- Dating Old Photographs
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- How to Date Your Old Photos
- From the office: 10 tips for dating old photographs | Who Do You Think You Are Magazine
The young men all look to be in their 30s but probably range from 20 upwards. Clothes can help identify the period in which a picture might have been taken — but not always. The stern preacher on the left is clearly dressed in the frock coat and clerical collar of the late 19th century — but he is still wearing the coat, below, 20 or more years later.
Dating Old Photographs
This was not the case in the mid s when, even though cameras were used for family snapshots, every picture had to count on a exposure roll of film. In the century before most people did not even have the luxury of a camera and relied on special trips to the photographer for family portraits. These might be a once-in-a-lifetime visit for some families and there are plenty who could not even afford that once.
Sleeves became tighter by and frilled bodices came into fashion. Most cartes were head and shoulders only, the backs were very elaborate and artistic, coloured backs and gold print common. Plain backs with the photographer's name on the lower front, some like this occur from about Many cabinet card seem to date from the s and s. Those enormously wide brimmed hats date from June onward and were often worn with a short slit in the skirt.
In the s hair was cut short for some and the hemline rose for the first time ever. Some cabinet and CDV photos were produced for the first decade of the century as there was still a demand, but the later cabinet card looked a little different, simple logo and studio on the bottom front and often with embossed patterns or channels and saw-cut edges or pinking and rarely any writing on the back.
Did he live in a city or a small town? What work did he do? Both the men in my photo are young, but one appears to be older than the other, and he has arm slung around his younger brother's shoulders. Both are holding cigars. The elder is wearing a watch chain and a pinky ring. Sadly, the age difference doesn't help me much. Michael was seven years older than Peter, who was seven years older than Timothy. But it does help me rule out a pairing of Michael and Timothy. 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 valuable information.
Other things to look for on women are the presence and size of a bustle and the fullness of the skirt.
For men, look at vests, neckties, the fit of a jacket loose or fitted and how it is buttoned. By examining the style of fashion worn by the subjects in an old photograph, it is possible to deduce the approximate date it was taken. Since I'm no fashionista , I turned to websites such as Family Chronicle , which also has published two books on dating photos, for help in matching styles with a particular era.
Consulting experts such as Maureen Taylor , whose website includes a blog and provides teleseminars, are also a good resource. In my photo, both men are wearing loose-fitting jackets with wide lapels. The elder man is wearing a collarless shirt — too bad, because it's easier to date men's collars and neckties.
How to Date Your Old Photos
The younger man is not wearing a necktie, but his shirt has a pointed, flat collar. The jackets seem to indicate a photo taken in the s, but I'm still not certain. This is the time to turn to common sense. I knew from my earlier research that all three of my great-grandfather's brothers eventually wound up farming in Kansas, after stops in Washington, D.
From the office: 10 tips for dating old photographs | Who Do You Think You Are Magazine
The tintype was taken in front of a painted background — hardly unusual for tintypes, but more likely found in St. Louis than a small town in Kansas that wasn't organized until In the early s, Michael would have been in his twenties and Peter in his teens and both were living in St. Timothy would have been too young to be either brother. Therefore the photo is more than likely Michael and Peter, perhaps taken before Peter left for Kansas to live with relatives, leaving Michael behind.