How to Date Old Photos

How to Date Old Photos

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.

Ambrotypes & Tintypes

Date antique photographs by the presence of a tax stamps. Learn more about tax stamps and when they were used to narrow the time frame of that photo. In your family history research, have you found old unidentified antique photographs in your collection?

Tintypes are another commonly-found type of photograph—although they were not created on tin. The tintype production method is similar to that.

Although not exactly like pictures we encounter today, tintype photographs set the stage for photography in our era. Tintypes began in when an Ohio chemistry professor Hamilton Smith patented the tintype image. Before tintypes existed, the two main types of photographic images, the daguerreotype and the ambrotype, were created by treating glass with light sensitive collodin. The process to create these images was expensive and difficult.

When tintypes became available commercially, photographers were easily swayed by the durability, inexpensiveness, and easier emulsion process of the tintype which led to the downfall of images on glass. Tintype images are taken on iron plates which are treated with an enamel to prevent rusting. Earlier tintypes are noted to be treated with a black enamel while later ones were treated with a brown enamel.

Repeating tintype gem portraits

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.

Cased Images & Tintypes KwikGuide: A Guide to Identifying and Dating Photographic Cases: Victorian Design Sources, (A Schiffer Book for.

Selections from the collection can be viewed on the Libraries’ Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials Curator is required to view originals. The history of photography has remained enduringly entwined over its nearly two-century existence with technological breakthroughs and advancements. With the introduction of the French-born daguerreotype process to America in , the nineteenth century was a period of fruitful experimentation marked by the introduction of a multitude of processes, each flourishing and reigning for a brief to extended period of time before being dethroned for the next surpassing development.

Nevertheless, the popularity of the daguerreotype began to wane in with the introduction of the wet plate collodion negative process that allowed for image production on paper, glass, and iron for relatively less cost. By , only a trickle of photographic studios continued to specialize in the process, and by the late s the daguerreotype had become an outmoded and soon to be forgotten photographic technique. The nature of the daguerreotype method created a one-of-a-kind image.

To create a daguerreotype, a thin copper plate coated with silver and polished to a mirror-like reflectivity was sensitized with iodine and then placed in a camera where it was exposed to light. To develop the image, the plate was held over highly-toxic mercury vapor fumes until the image appeared and then fixed with salt hyposulfite of soda. Modern daguerreotypes are made in much the same way as they were in the 19th century.

They are now considered an art form as each daguerreotype is unique and multiple copies are not able to be reproduced. The ambrotype process was patented in and enjoyed great popularity for a few short years, and again during the Civil War. It produced pictures on glass instead of metal plates.

Dating and Identifying Your Old Family Photographs

A tintype , also known as a melainotype or ferrotype , is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion. Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the s and s, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century and it has been revived as a novelty and fine art form in the 21st. Tintype portraits were at first usually made in a formal photographic studio, like daguerreotypes and other early types of photographs, but later they were most commonly made by photographers working in booths or the open air at fairs and carnivals , as well as by itinerant sidewalk photographers.

Because the lacquered iron support there is no actual tin used was resilient and did not need drying, a tintype could be developed and fixed and handed to the customer only a few minutes after the picture had been taken.

19th Century Photo Types: A Breakdown to Help You Date Old Family Pictures plate holding the positive image to distinguish a tintype from an ambrotype.

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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. Read more Read less. Kindle Cloud Reader Read instantly in your browser.

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How to Date Old Ancestor Photographs with Early Photo Types

We all have old family photos. These may be loose or in albums or they may be in the form of postcards or even fragile black and grey glass negatives. So what about dating? Photography started in but at that time was really in the hands of a few scientists, professionals or wealthy amateurs.

sixth-plate tintype ; 9 x cm. Date: Photo, Print, Drawing. [.

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?

Antique Tintype Photographs

They are stamped “Neff’s Melainotype Pat 19 Feb 56” along one edge. Sizes range from one-sixth plate to full plate see appendix El. Many are found in gilt frames or in the leather or plastic thermomolded cases of the earlier ambro-types. Civil War Period: – Tintypes of this time are primarily on–sixth Plate and one-fourth plate and are often datable by the Potter’s Patent paper holders, adoned with patriotic stars and emblems, that were introduced during the period.

After the paper holders are embossed rather than printed.

Dated and Canceled Revenue Stamp found on reverse of Civil War era tintype photograph. The photographer would mark or date it, this.

This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. Q: While cleaning out an old farmhouse in the Lucknow, Ont. It’s only about 10 by six centimetres four by 2. I was told by an elderly relative that the man seated on the right is Sir Richard Burton, the English explorer who was stationed in India early in his career. A: The ultimate question is determining value here is whether this is really Sir Richard Francis Burton. In addition to being an English explorer, Sir Richard Burton was also a soldier, author and linguist.

It’s said he could actually speak 35 languages and that he translated into English the entire Arabian Nights , a collection of Arabian folk tales. Tintypes, which are actually made of iron not tin, were invented in the United States in and sometimes hand-coloured like this one. Historical tintypes are very tricky items to appraise so I contacted Edward Garcia, a British expert on military photographs.

He doesn’t think this is Sir Burton, for a number of reasons.

How to Date Antique Photographs Using Tax Stamps

Tintypes, Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes c cycleback , all rights reserved. Tintype : Early image on a thin iron plate resembling tin. By far the most common of the three for sports subjects.

Shop for-and learn about-Antique Tintype Photographs. Tintype is the Martha Topping Photo Album dating help Prt 3: Metal Photos/Tintypes? themuse2 years​.

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How to Identify an Old Tintype Photo

It’s best to search for ancestors by entering one term in the search box below such as surname, a city or town, a county, a state, a country or a keyword such as England, Civil War, CDV, Minnesota, Pennsylvania etc. Pearce’s Algonquin Bon Ton Tent. Collection of author. A wonderful early advertising piece for the traveling photographer tent of W.

Many times, tintypes are found unmounted. Preservation and Storage. As is often the case with photographs dating from the first four decades or.

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Family Tree

The term “case photograph” describes three types of 19th-century photographs that were generally kept in cases which were both decorative and protective. They are the daguerreotype , named after its inventor L. Daguerre; the ambrotype; and the tintype or ferrotype. Daguerreotypes were introduced in in Paris, France, constituting for some photo-historians the beginning of photography.

Date: Initiated April Contributors: Amy Brost, Luisa Casella The Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog is created and maintained by the Invented: The tintype (also referred to as Ferrotype or Melainotype) was.

These direct image formats are unique, developed directly onto support material with no separate negative. Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes are often enclosed in a hinged case behind glass; tintypes were sometimes placed in thin folding cases. Consider the use of facsimiles instead. The duration of an exhibit should be determined in advance, and no item should be placed on display permanently.

Most items should not be displayed for longer than 3 to 4 months, assuming other conditions such as light levels, temperature, and relative humidity are within acceptable ranges. Facsimiles or items of low artifactual value may be exhibited for longer periods of time. Between display periods it should be returned to an appropriate environment where it may “rest” in dark storage. Light levels should be kept as low as possible.

Making a Tintype



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