Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
#102158 - 04/30/03 05:28 PM not on your tintype  
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 13,858
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel
wwh  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 13,858
A hundred years ago, many portraits were taken on tintype, also called ferrotype.
ferrotype
n.
5FERRO3 + 3TYPE6
1 a positive photograph taken directly on a thin plate of black-enameled iron coated with a sensitized emulsion; tintype
2 the process of making such photographs
vt.
3typed#, 3typ#ing to give a glossy finish to (a photographic print) by squeezing into contact with a highly polished surface, usually chromium-plated steel, stainless steel, or plastic

The exposure time had to be rather long, minutes, not fractions of a second. Interestingly, the result
was a positive image. Sad thing was that they slowly turned all black. I had one of my grandmother,
which when about eighty years old was almost all black.

There was an emphatic way of saying "No!" --- Not on your tintype!" I have been unable to
fiture out how it came to be used. Word-Detective's parents in their phrase dictionary said
they were unable to find its origin. Let's have some speculation on it.


#102159 - 05/01/03 11:51 AM Re: not on your tintype  
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,692
dxb Offline
Pooh-Bah
dxb  Offline
Pooh-Bah

Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,692
UK
Well, I'm familiar with tintypes and have a couple that have come down the family, but this is a new expression to me. I Googled it and found it quite common but seemingly only on US sites, I found three related usages, also on US sites:

“Mull that over on your tintype, then, as we go forward.”

“What did the gladiator say? Blow it out your tintype. Finbad the Failer lives!”

“…or ninny on your tintype, as people of Coppola's father's generation used to say…”

I don’t read much into these as I think they are examples of people not understanding the reference and consequently misusing the expression.

Two possibilities for the origin come to mind.

One is that tintypes were originally rare, expensive and much prized (although eventually very common) and the thought was “Not on your life…not even on your tintype!” I think this is quite unlikely to be the origin, but offer it for what it’s worth – not a lot.

The other is that tintypes were seen as true impressions of reality (the camera never lies – ha, ha) so that “Not on your tintype!” implied something that was *unreal. I think this is quite a feasible explanation.



#102160 - 05/01/03 12:17 PM Re: not on your tintype  
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 7,210
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Buffalo Shrdlu  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 7,210
Vermont
One is that tintypes were originally rare, expensive and much prized (although eventually very common) and the thought was ?Not on your life?not even on your tintype!? I think this is quite unlikely to be the origin, but offer it for what it?s worth ? not a lot.


actually, dixbey, this was my thought as well. similar to "not on your life!".<-- I think I must be blind...

I have never heard the "not on your tintype" expression, however...



formerly known as etaoin...
#102161 - 05/02/03 04:04 AM Re: not on your tintype  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,065
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Bingley  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,065
Jakarta
In reply to:

Well, I'm familiar with tintypes and have a couple that have come down the family, but this is a new expression to me. I Googled it and found it quite common but seemingly only on US sites


While 'not on your nelly' seems to be almost confined to uk sites plus a few nz and au sites.

Bingley



Bingley
#102162 - 05/06/03 09:00 PM Re: not on your tintype  
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 725
Coffeebean Offline
old hand
Coffeebean  Offline
old hand

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 725
Oregon, USA
I've heard "not on your tintype" before, and agree with etaoin and others that it seems to be the same as "not on your life."

If someone is interested in locating the libretto for Meredith Willson's The Music Man, in the last act (I believe) you will find Charlie the Anvil salesman saying to Marion "not on your mother's tintype."



#204171 - 01/10/12 07:15 PM Re: not on your tintype [Re: wwh]  
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 1
How Offline
stranger
How  Offline
stranger

Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 1
U.S.A.
The meaning should be obvious. Like saying "not on your life," it referrers to the possibility of a promise made by 'you' : "not even if you promised to give your life."

The idea that a tintype was as valuable as a persons life is rather absurd, even back in the day. People gave and traded tintypes like we might give business cards, so "even if you promised to give your tintype" it's a bit silly, like saying "even if you promised to give your business card." It is a type of American humor that could originally come from an actual spoonerism. But the content of the phrase is that it a rebuff to the person giving the offer, suggesting the offer is bogus or an insult. The offer isn't worth the paper it's printed on, isn't worth a tintype.

The phrase itself has merit as a tintype would be a ready and humorous synonym for worthlessness, but it may have it's origin in comedy.

This type of humor was very popular in low comedy, like vaudeville and burlesque, being the catch phrase of a comedian. These acts would travel to every major city, so the entire nation might be entertained by the same comedian, but the acts were rarely recorded or even written down, so without a direct record, review, journal entry, etc. it can be impossible to trace a phrase like this.

Regardless, these types of phases can be catchy and survive generations if they are clever enough, even though the original comedy is long forgotten. Often a catchy phrase like this would become a cliche or stock line for a certain 'type', in this case an angry man. This phrase may have been the catch phrase of a comedian in a long forgotten burlesque act.

P.S. there is a misconception that tintypes were "rare" or "prized" they were the cheapest form of photography, the Instamatic of the day, used by the lower classes. Albumen, Ambrotypes and Dagarotypes were much more expensive and preferred (Lincoln gave thousands of tintypes away on campaign buttons). As such tintypes were a code word at the time for worthlessness, much like business cards today which are practically forced upon people -something of value only to the giver not the receiver.

Tintypes were popular in the U.S. because it was cheap to establish a studio to make tintypes and for itinerant photographers to pack up a mule team and travel newly developing communities. Tintypes never caught on in Europe in the same way, which explains why the phrase is exclusive to the U.S.


Moderated by  Jackie 

Forum Statistics
Forums16
Topics13,878
Posts223,764
Members9,009
Most Online3,341
Dec 9th, 2011
Newest Members
Akintola, VegasCaptain, Mallo, drad_dog, Kimi
9009 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
0 registered members (), 53 guests, and 3 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters(30 Days)
Top Posters(All Time)
wwh 13,858
Faldage 13,803
Jackie 11,613
tsuwm 10,538
LukeJavan8 8,935
AnnaStrophic 6,511
Wordwind 6,296
of troy 5,400
Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 1994-2017 Wordsmith

Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.0
Page Time: 0.013s Queries: 14 (0.003s) Memory: 2.6862 MB (Peak: 2.7916 MB) Zlib disabled. Server Time: 2017-07-21 04:52:45 UTC