Dating Old Photographs

Second Edition

Robert Pols

 

Published by The Federation of Family History Societies (Publications) Ltd

First published 1992

Reprinted 1993 Second edition 1995

Reprinted 1998

ISBN 1-86006-013-7

 




Contents

 

Introduction

4

  The Beginnings of Photography

5

  The Effects of Light

 

  Prehistory

 

  The Earliest Photograph

 

  The Daguerrotype

 

  The Calotype

 

  Hypo

 

  The Wet Collodion Process

 

  Egg Whites and After

 

  The Rise of the Professional Photographers

 

  Dry Plates

 

  The Arrival of the Snaphot

 

Identifying Early Photographs

16

  Daguerrotypes and Calotypes

 

  Ambrotypes

 

  Cartes de Visite

 

  Cabinet Prints

 

  Printing Processes

 

  Tintypes

 

  Novelties

 

  Roll Film Pictures

 

  Stereos

 

  Postcards

 

Dating Early Photographs

29

  Types of Photograph

 

  Evidence other than the Image

 

  Names and Addresses of Photographers

 

  The Image Studio Backgrounds and Props

 

  The Image Composition and Technique

 

  The Image Exterior Background

 

  The Image - Costume

 

Other Photographic Items

49

  Cameras

 

  Stereoscopes

 

  Frames

 

  Albums

 

  Negatives

 

Copying Photographs

54

  The Standard Method

 

  Cheating

 

Looking after Old Photographs

57

  Handling and Using

 

  Light

 

  Temperature and Humidity

 

  Storage

 

  Prevention and Cure

 

Photographs and Dating Charts

61

  (Examples)

 

  (Dating Charts)

 

Bibliography

89

 



Introduction

 

"The fact is, our governor's a friend of the people, and don't mind losing a little money. He's determined that everybody shall have a portrait, from the highest to the lowest. Indeed, next Sunday he do talk of taking them for threepence-ha'penny, and if that ain't philandery, what is?"

Thus, Mayhew records, a Victorian street-photographer's assistant explained his employer's policy. The fact that this explanation was being used to justify a price rise from sixpence to eightpence (if that ain't logic, what is?) may perhaps be overlooked. What matters is the ubiquity of the photographer and the increasing cheapness of the photograph in Victorian England. At the beginning of Victoria's reign the invention of photography was announced; by the end of her reign the day of the snapshot had dawned.

Photography was and is a staggering invention. It brought our ancestors face to face with themselves, and it brings us face to face with them. Not surprisingly, therefore, photographs, whether a full set of albums or a battered handful of pictures, form an important and treasured part of many a family archive. They provide a window through which we gain a glimpse of our own past. But the view through the window is not always clear, and the aim of this small book is, in effect, to dust its glass. More precisely, the intention is to help with understanding the photos which have been handed down, with identifying them, and with dating them. As we come to be more familiar with early photographs we may, incidentally, come to interpret their subjects more aptly. We distinguish between the Sunday best of the formal portrait and the everyday reality of the snapshot, and we recognise that Victorian sternness may owe as much to the conditions of the photographer's studio as to an unrelievedly solemn habit of mind.

In its attempt to polish the window between ourselves and the past, this book looks briefly at the early history of photography, then moves on to consider the identification of the photographs we have inherited and the possibilities of dating them. Later sections deal briefly with related photographic items and with copying and caring for early photographs. The bibliography is selective, but points to possibilities for those who wish to pursue the subject further.

 


Angebot/Order



                     E-mail: arrendator@GAK.studienstelleog.de web-site:http://GAK.studienstelleog.de
                     Klaus-Dieter Kreplin, zum Nordhang 5, D-58313 Herdecke 2005