Frozen Icemen

Antique tintype occupational portrait of icemen plying their trade in period tramp art frame, c. 1880s. The photograph is a sixth-plate tintype and was taken in a studio. How strange it is to imagine the icemen before the camera, positioned theatrically in front of this timeworn backdrop, the block of ice dripping onto the floorboards. His merchandise melting at his side, the iceman instructs the photographer to hurry with his eyes as the moment — also melting away — freezes solid as ice on a sepia-toned tin plate.

The piece is professionally framed and floated in an antique wooden tramp art frame in old black and gold paint, c. 1900. Objects made in the “Tramp Art” tradition were often made of reused wood from cigar boxes, which were cut and layered to create these ziggurat-like sculptural forms.

The image is a rare and striking occupational portrait and one of the most evocative photographs I’ve come across.




2.5 inches wide

3.25 inches tall


9 inches wide

10 inches tall


The tintype is in good condition. The frame has an antique patina with a few small chips with surface scratches.



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