The Red Album
The Red Album is almost certainly the oldest of the collections passed down through the descendants of the Cottons. It is a tiny book, a miniature archive of 23 tintypes that could be held in the palm of the hand. Two thirds of the portraits have been identified. Most are images of the children of Ben Cotton and his brother Charles. Based on the approximate ages of Ben's three girls (Sarah Elizabeth, Isadora, and Euretta) and Charles' two (Mary Emma and Sarah Jane) it seems likely that the photographs were taken between 1858 and 1865.
The order of the images within the album is probably undisturbed. The small squares of tin had to be afixed within the oval cardboard frame. Usually with adhesive tape. The first image in the collection was of Anna Amelia Baker... sister-in-law to Charles. The last image is a common memorial tintype of Abe Lincoln, reproduced in the thousands after his assassination.
To browse through all the images in the Red Album click here.