How to Date an Old Photograph

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tintype photo of two Victorian women posing under an “arched column” – great photo prop. Some creasing and general wear. Image is good. Tintype photo of a baby with a hidden mother awkwardly posed to the side under a striped blanket. This is quirky, fun and odd.

I soon learned to identify daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes It is important to consider a photograph case when dating an image, though it is a it is and use this information along with the clothing to determine the age.

AARP Rewards is here to make your next steps easy, rewarding and fun! Learn more. Two young men stare out at me from a small old photograph. On the back, in my grandmother’s handwriting, is written “Grandpa King’s brothers. At least I’ve got some information to work with, but I’m eager to learn more: When was the picture taken? Which two of my great-grandfather’s brothers are these?

riley maclean photography

A tintype is technically a negative of an image exposed directly onto an enamel coated plate of metal traditionally very thin “Japanned” steel; in modern use, usually enamel coated aluminum. Each tintype is one-of-a-kind and can only be duplicated by scanning or taking a photo of the tintype itself. It can be thought of as a very elaborate, oldee-timey Polaroid.

Tintype portrait of a woman in a wedding dress has over tintype photographs dating from the beginnings of the process in to the present. pipe liners and other tintypes of people wearing work clothes and posing with tools.

With a long, dark winter ahead, now is the perfect time play photo detective. Just dust off your shoebox, get out your magnifying glass and follow these clues to start solving your mysteries. Solve the Mystery! How do you do that? Use Ancestry , our free family history resource. Be sure to take a look at our Genealogy guide as well as our books on dating old family photos for more information. If you’re completely stumped, try posting your photo to a photo-sharing site like Ancient Faces.

Do you have any other tips? Lingering mysteries or success stories? Please share them in the comments below. Skip to main content. Search Sign-in. Local History The mystery lady in my family photos. Do you have a shoebox full of mysteries in your closet?

Developing skills for identifying vintage 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.

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​.

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. There were even special tintype albums created for inserting the photograph. The couple in this photograph are wearing clothing which can be dated between and She is wearing a dress with an obvious hoop skirt, her sleeves are narrow at the shoulders and fuller as it reaches her wrist.

Be an Old Family Photo Detective

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.

Clues in the clothes: using observable details to determine rough dates for photographs. 3/5/ 0 Comments. Picture Tintypes donated by Ed & Marsha.

Introduction : In this article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak shows how you can date old, undated family photos by first figuring out what type of photograph they are, and uses old newspapers and other sources to illustrate different types of photos. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. Do you have a box of old, undated family photos somewhere up in the attic—or maybe buried in the back of some closet?

Have you wondered how you were ever going to figure out who these family members might be, since the old photographs lack inscriptions or dates? Genealogy is a lot like detective work, gathering clues to make the pieces of your family puzzle fit together. Old, undated family photographs are pieces of evidence, clues that—if you examine closely enough—might yield some answers.

By knowing a little of the history of photography, you might be able to solve the mystery of those old photos by first recognizing what type of photograph they are—which in turn will help you narrow down the date range for when the photo was created. This blog article will help you do that. Evening Star Washington, D. It was created with a camera obscura, a device used by artists to project images on a wall or screen.

After a long eight-hour exposure time, the image became affixed. Perhaps your family pictures are identified—but in all likelihood many are not, so narrowing time periods for the creation of each photo is important in trying to date them. Some of my earlier GenealogyBank Blog posts provided other tips for dating undated photographs, including one showing how historical newspapers can assist greatly with photo dating by comparing the clothing of people in your undated photos to clothing styles shown in old newspaper advertisements.

See a list with links to these photography-related blog posts at the end of this article.

Photo Detective: All About Tintypes

Example of a tintype presented in a case. When were they introduced? They were patented by Hamilton L. Smith of Gambier, Ohio in and quickly became a popular photographic format.

I now turn to fashion to see if what these men are wearing can help me narrow the date range of the photo. Close examination of sleeves and collars can provide.

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.

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