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Not on Your Tintype...

Posted by ESC on May 09, 2004

In Reply to: Not on Your Tintype... posted by Rob Moseley on May 09, 2004

: Hi all,

: That phrase keeps turning up like a bad penny..!

: My sister brought up that saying after I sent her a couple of scans of 1870s tintypes of grt grandparents, etc.

: She remembers hearing that in the mid 1940s in Massachusetts when a youngster. 'Not on your tintype' is used randomly quite often on the Internet as seen in Google initial search-returns, as well.

: It could be that the saying might be ascribed, as earlier mentioned, with the same degree of permanence as one's life (not on your life), because the tintype or ferrotype was a very durable piece of portrait work and highly treasured by individuals and families - the likeness being as 'real' as the person imaged.

: Rob

I think that's what we concluded in a previous discussion. That it was kind of like saying, "Not on your life."

From the archives:

I did find "not on your tintype," a phrase "in vogue around the nineteenth century," according to the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins." A tintype was "the 1890s equivalent of the Polaroid instant photo."

: The authors, William and Mary Morris, couldn't give a definitive answer on the exact meaning of "not on your tintype."

: So we seem to be stuck with guessing on the literal meaning of both phrases.

And then Bob said:
I would venture a guess (from the construction) that it relates to swearing an oath. One swears "on a stack of bibles" or "on my mother's grave" or "on" something else. Perhaps the preceeding statement(s) is/are so risky that you shouldn't agree ... not on your life.