How to Date Your Old Photos

One of the most available, most misunderstood and certainly the most misidentified of all antiques are photographs. It would be difficult to find an antique dealer who has not at one time or another bought and sold 19th century photographs, yet, the average dealer would be hard pressed to correctly identify or date the different types of photographic images they routinely encounter. This exploded view of the anatomy of a photographic case shows the various levels of the image side of the case. All images courtesy Dr. Anthony J. I bought my first 19th century photograph in on a farm in Pennsylvania, out of a barn that housed ducks and doubled as an antique shop.

Antique Tintype Photographs

The tintype is one of the ubiquitous forms of photography which has for the most part recorded the existence of the common person. A process first introduced in the mids, it is still in occasional use today. These collodion and later gelatin-based images on thin, blackened, iron sheets were customarily sent through the mail to sweethearts and family. Though popularly called “tintypes” they were never made on tin. This paper reviews the fascinating history of tintypes, and describes how to identify them.

The author also dispels some persistent myths about this “humble” process and describes its circumstance in western Canada.

Enter fashion. It’s pretty easy to date photographs from the late 20th century, if you spend a moment studying what people are wearing, or how.

The Mirror of Race website provides basic information about each of the images displayed in its on-line exhibition. This information is fairly standard in any art-historical scholarship, but those new to this topic may want some further explanation of the terms. MAKER: Each images had its maker, of course, but it is worth keeping several things in mind about this. First of all, the early forms of photographic process the daguerreotype, the ambrotype, the tintype and the albumen print, to name the most common ones were very difficult to learn and perform, expensive in terms of their equipment and apparatus, and sometimes very dangerous for example, developing a daguerreotype requires heating up mercury until it gives off fumes, and the wet-plate processes include chemicals that can — and often did — explode if improperly handled.

For the most part, in these early years, only people who intended to make photography their trade learned how to do it. This is why most of the early photographs are portraits: the main business of commercial photography was in portraiture. Early photographers often did not sign their work. Sometimes, they indicated their identity by stamping their names on the mat of the photograph, or on an advertising card on the back of the image, or by a label or some similar device.

The rest are anonymous. Even when an inscription on a mat or a label can identify an individual maker, this does not necessarily mean that this person actually made the image. The production of early photographs was complex and labor-intensive, and many photographers — especially the more successful ones, such as Matthew Brady — employed large numbers of people to help them with their work. This process included receiving and preparing the client for the portrait, preparing the photographic plate for exposure, setting up the camera and the client for the shot, exposing the plate in the camera, developing the plate, and finishing it for the client which could involve applying color to it by hand, placing it in a brass mat and a case made of wood and paper or sometimes an early version of plastic called thermoplastic.

Most early photographs were made in a studio. This is because the early photographic processes were difficult and cumbersome: they required a great deal of sensitive equipment to prepare and develop, and lighting conditions had to be optimal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Post a Comment. Being able to easily identify the approximate date of an old photograph is a skill I take for granted, since I do it all the time. Yesterday, after a friend posted something on Facebook, I realized that it is not a common skill.

DATING PHOTOGRAPHS FROM PHOTOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES and STUDIO thermoplastic cases c – s Tintypes The fashion for “close-up” portraits of the head and shoulders only, possible with the improved lenses of the​.

When photographs are passed down through generations of families, sometimes the stories of the people in the images become fragmented or lost. If you find yourself with a collection of photographs that lack contextual information, there are a number of clues you can look out for. The most effective way to date photographs is to combine historical analysis with knowledge of different photography techniques and materials through time.

Here at The National Archives, we have teams who specialise in both areas and in this blog, Visual Collections Researcher Katherine Howells and Conservator of photographs and paper Ioannis Vasallos share their tips. You can also look out for handwritten notes on the back of the photograph such as names, events or locations.

Look also at sleeves — is there a puff at the shoulder? And hairstyles — consider the parting, fringe and accessories. There are plenty of online resources on the history of fashion which can assist you in identifying the different elements. The presence of an individual in uniform can make the process of dating the photograph easier.

riley maclean photography

Being able to determine the approximate date and time of photographs may confirm existing research or lead you to discover new ancestors in your family tree. Betty has selected a handful of beautiful photos submitted by our community members and has provided her insights below to help color in the story of their ancestors. I would date this picture about because of the huge circumference of the hat. One thing to note, when fashions reach their most extreme they usually change dramatically to the exact opposite.

In , triangular shaped hoops had replaced the bird-cage shaped hoop skirts of the Civil War Era.

A tintype, also known as a melainotype or ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct Photographic processes dating from the 19th century · Alternative photographic processes. Hidden categories: Articles needing additional.

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Indispensible Resource to Identify People in Early Photos The Cased Images and Tintypes KwikGuide is a detailed and clear source of identification tips and photo dating information for daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes.

This is an indispensable reference tool for genealogists, family historians, and photocollectors who are conducting research on vintage 19th century photographs. Read more Read less.

Woman in Bridal Dress

I studied photography in college, back in the just barely-pre-digital age, and began my love of alternative process photography there. I taught myself to make tintypes in on a bit of a whim, and have been perfecting the craft ever since, melding centuries-old techniques with modern lighting equipment and less harmful chemical processes. Sign up for my newsletter.

portraits with dates ranging from the s to the s, which is considered the peak of discuss the paint on the tintypes and to supervise the process of taking The alteration of clothing ranges from enhancement

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Indispensible Resource to Identify People in Early Photos The Cased Images and Tintypes KwikGuide is a detailed and clear source of identification tips and photo dating information for daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. This is an indispensable reference tool for genealogists, family historians, and photocollectors who are conducting research on vintage 19th century photographs.

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Photo Detective: All About Tintypes

Tintypes, Ambrotypes and Daguerreotypes are some of the very earliest photographs, dating back to the midth century. And there are still a surprising number of them around. Many of them have survived very well. But undoubtedly they will need restoration to some degree – often a lot.

A tintype is a photograph created on a thin sheet of metal. Tintypes were “Her clothing clues tell me something about her. It’s probably the I have a family history dating back to the ‘s in England and France. I also have.

This Website was paid for by – Auer Endowment -. Subscribe to RSS. Go Back. The tintype was a variation of the ambrotype, but instead of a glass plate, a thin sheet of iron ferro was used. This inexpensive sheet of iron proved to be less fragile than either the ambrotype or daguerreotype. And, just so you know, I have no idea who any of the people are in the images. The most we can hope for is to establish approximate dates for our tintypes. Before we begin our examination of our tintypes, remember that we have the patent date of as a starting point.

The height of their popularity was between and , but tintypes continued to be used long after the s. When tintypes were first produced, they were encased in frames just like an ambroytype or daguerreotype. Later on these frames became paper.

Historical Fashion Expert Helps Time Date Your Old Family Photos

Here are several sites that can help you put your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents on the right branches of your family tree. Here are some places where you can pick up a few style cues to help you ID your own vintage family photographs! Wikipedia The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia provides a nicely detailed collection of articles about the many eras of clothing fashion. Here are direct links to the sections dedicated to the time since photography was possible: s s s s s s s s s s — — s.

Flickr collections by era These contributed photographs are grouped by decade, and the multitude of images will provide you with a helpful frame of reference to compare your vintage photos. Topics include evening attire, fashion accessories and even bathing costumes and undergarments.

Enjoy! Tintype c Gift of Stephen Porterfield the dates certain photo techniques were used can help date extant objects.

Print Reply. Read times. Attached is a tintype of one of my many Irish ancestors who immigrated from various counties in Ireland to Manhattan and Brooklyn in the s, 50s, 60s. Can anyone date this tintype, judging by his hair, clothing, photo style, or anything else? It would help me in identifying which of my ancestors he is.

This has been a puzzle to me for years. Dating tintypes of men is quite difficult as there’s no cardstock info.

Tin-type Chronology

Tintype photo of two Victorian women posing under an “arched column” – great photo prop. Some creasing and general wear. Image is good.

With almost a hundred years of tintypes in family collections, dating them can be sleeve or revenue stamp, so we must rely on clothing clues to date them.

After an absence of several years, fake tintypes are being seen again in increasing numbers. Previously found primarily in flea markets and malls, the new generation of fakes has spread to the Internet. Subjects of the fakes are similar to before: Civil War soldiers, native Americans, and 19th century historical figures. One new category to the latest batch reported Maine Antique Digest June is blacks with a black mammy with white children being the most frequently seen.

Authentic tintypes date from the late s. First, a sheet of iron would be covered with black lacquer. Then it would be coated with emulsion and exposed in the camera. Earlier daguerreotypes and ambrotypes were on copper and glass plates and had to be protected in cases. Iron plates of the tintype produced a much more durable image and could be kept in paper folders. This lowered their cost and made them affordable to more people.

Tintype Photos

Do you have old family photographs in your possession that you know nothing about? Are you wondering who the individual are and where they fit on your family tree? Determining the identity of your unknown photographs can be daunting, but it is possible. Determine where the photograph was obtained? How did you come to have the photograph s in your family collection? Which side of the family is it from?

When handling tintypes it is a good idea to wear cotton or latex gloves If you have information, such as names and dates, to record about the.

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How to wear vintage clothes: Dating Vintage