Dating old photographs uk

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By Editor, 12 December - Thursday, 12 December We received a Christmas card from the Llewellyn-Bowen family this week, Laurence, his wife and two daughters dressed up in a s jazz style. It made me think of our feature on postcards in our Christmas issue written by photo dating expert Jayne Shrimpton that included a Christmas postcard from her collection.

This card, sent from the Sudan in , features a photograph of a soldier inserted into a festive mount.

We associate postcards now with holiday scenes, but in the first half of the 20th century they were also commonly used as mounts for personal photographs. We find some of the most common queries from readers are to do with photo dating.

Type of Photograph

Boxes of old photographs can sometimes come down the family with no indication of who the sitters are. With a date, you can narrow the field of possible suspects and even, sometimes put a name to a face as it stares back at you from the past:. Understanding the history to cartes de visite CDV and cabinet cards will also help you narrow down a timeframe. There are plenty of websites that can guide you. Just as with format, sizes for prints changed over time. Again, look online to find guides on sizes of photographic prints.

From the office: 10 tips for dating old photographs | Who Do You Think You Are Magazine

Many CDVs include the name of the photography studio. Although usually long gone, you may be able to find them listed in directories. There are also websites that collect details of photographers. For the 19th century, sleeves can be quite a good starting point.

How to spot a cabinet card (1866–c.1914)

Again, look online for different sleeve shapes through the ages and try to find ones that match those in the photograph. For the 20th century, dress length can be quite revealing.


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Always judge by the younger women in the photograph if possible. Older women are much more likely to be conservative and still be wearing a favourite dress from ten years ago! This can be difficult as there were whole decades of the 19th century when women had a centre parting but when a new fashion comes in with hairstyle it is quicker for people to update than clothing.

How to identify a Daguerreotype (1840s–1850s)

The carte de visite gained popularity quickly during the Civil War as soldiers and family exchanged photographs. Cabinet cards and carte des visites CDV are often confused. Like the CDV, the cabinet card was also an albumen print on thin paper and mounted on thicker paper. The primary difference is the size.

The cabinet card reached its peak popularity in the s but was used into the early s. Have you ever remembered when a photograph was taken of you based on your hairstyle or on the clothes you wore? Narrowing the date range a photograph was taken will narrow down the potential candidates the people can be. The photograph below the cabinet card from above dates to the early s.

This photograph of Mary Elizabeth Scott below was taken in the early — mids. Notice the center part with the bangs. Her hair is pulled into a bun in the back. The bodice of her dress along with the narrow sleeve is also indicative of this time period. She wears a typical hairstyle of the day with a middle part and the hair styled over the ears. Her full skirt and the fuller sleeves were common in the fashions of Civil War women.

Where do you find examples of hairstyles and fashions from different time periods? What type of photograph is it? Research the hair and clothing fashions you find.

How to spot a daguerreotype (1840s–1850s)

With this information, you will be able to estimate the date your photograph was taken and begin to narrow down who could possibly be in the photograph. Lisa believes researching your genealogy does not have to be overwhelming.


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All you need is a solid plan, a genealogy toolbox, and the knowledge to use those tools. Passionate about genealogy research and helping others find resources and tools to confidently research their genealogy, Lisa can be found at LisaLisson. This is a great article. I only wish I had images as old as Daguerrotypes in my family collection. They must have been handed down to the wrong descendents not me if there were any at all.

How To Date Photographs

Hi please help me know the year in which this photo of our grandmother has been taken. It has been taken somewhere in Ghana, west Africa. Thank you so much. This is such a great article on dating old photos. I have one more suggestion — I have been successful in dating some of my cabinet cards by cross referencing the photographer in the city directory of the time period, noting what years that photographer appeared at the particular address printed on the card. Thought you might like to see the earliest in my collection, a carte de visite taken in , my great-great grandmother, Katherine Sheets Faust, age 17 luckily for me on this one, her name and age had been written on the back.

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