A Guide to Old Photographs


Sr Member
Hi All,

Thought this may be of some use to someone

A guide to old photos
Old photos are a real treasure. but it's soemtimes difficult to know WHAT era a certain type of photograph was in so heres a very quick run down.

The kind of photographic process used can give you a clue as to the timeframe during which the picture was taken.

Daguerrotypes (1839–1860) - approximately 6.5" x 8.5" in size.
Daguerrotypes are made of silver-plated copper with a polished surface. They are very fragile, so are usually covered with glass and are in small cases padded with satin or velvet.

Tintypes or Ferrotypes (1856–early 1900s) - most common size was about 2 ½ " x 3 ½".
Tintypes were popular during the US Civil War. They’re made of a thin sheet of iron coated with black varnish. They were very durable so that soldiers could carry photos, and send them back home without fear of ruining them.

Cartes de Visite - (Early 1860s –1900) - (Visiting Cards) - Mounted on card size d 2.5" x 4".
Images printed on treated paper from glass plates using wet collodion process then mounted onto thick card, .

Cabinet Cards (1866–1920s) - Varying between about 5.5" x 4" and 6.5" x 4" in size
Most photos taken in the late 1800s are ‘cabinet cards’. These photos were printed on thin paper that was then mounted onto thick card. These normally have the name of the photographer or studio on the front of the card. (think Billy the Kid Photo.)

Portrait Postcards (1900–1920s) - approx 6"x4" in size varying slightly depending on finish
Portraits printed with postcard backs became popular at the turn of the century. Styles of postcard changed a lot, but after 1907 they’re largely similar to a modern-day postcard layout.

The Black and White Snapshot (1900–1960s) - 6"x6" in size
In 1900, Kodak launched the Brownie camera. Affordable and easy to use, cameras were not just for professionals anymore.

Colour Transparencies or Slides (1940s–1970s) - Viewable frame size 26.5mm x 26.5mm
The ability to develop colour film became widely available in the 1940s and 1950s. Slides became popular, and colour photos have been the norm ever since.

hope this helps someone....
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