Thursday, May 31, 2007

When was this picture taken?

One of the treasures found in my Aunt Geraldine's photos and papers was this set of photographs encased in a fairly thick case - about 3/8 inch thick on each side.

The photos appear to be on a metallic medium, and are covered with a thin glass (resulting in the blurring of the picture above on my scanner). The whitish marks on the scan above are from fingerprints on the glass, not in the pictures.

The outside of the casing shows a relief of a mother kissing a small child with a large dog (?) watching. This is on both halves of the casing. There is no other identifying feature on the casing - inside or outside.

I am not sure who these people are, but I'm guessing that it was handed down to Gerry from her mother. Depending on the year the photos were taken, I have several candidates for who they are, assuming they are from Gerry's and my father's ancestry.

Can anyone give me an estimate of the year these photos were taken, based on the photo type, the case type, the clothing, the poses, the hair styles, etc.?

UPDATE 1 June, 1:15 PM: In comments, Dana and Jimmy have suggested that these are Civil War era photographs. Joy provided these very helpful links for photo dating:

" and have a lot of links to information about dating historical photographs."

Thank you all! I will report further when I have a better idea for the time frame.


Anonymous said...

My $.02, for what it's worth as I am no expert, is that it is Civil War-era. Look at the hairstyles and the woman's dress in particular. They're right out of Gone with the Wind.

JMK said...

I have a similar portrait and decorative metal casing, which was taken just before the subject signed up for the civil war. This ties up with the comment by Dana.

Anonymous said...

and have a lot of links to information about dating historical photographs.

Joy Rich

Anonymous said...

The first URL got cut off in my post. It's
/100pages/photodating.htm .


Randy Seaver said...

Thanks to Dana, Jimmy and Joy for their comments.

Anonymous said...

The photos are almost certainly tintypes, which first appeared in the late 1850s, Since they were cheap and not fragile, they became wildly popular when the civil war started: many soldiers going off to war sent photos of themselves home. Cases such as yours were first developed for the expensive and fragile daguerrotypes and ambrotypes in the 1840s, though it is not uncommon to find tintypes in cases. There are several books of illustrated examples to guide in identifying and dating the various types of cases. Try your public library.
By the late 1860s, "cabinet cards" or "cartes de visite" on thick paper stock started replacing tintypes, and by the 1870s, few tintypes were being produced. Your photo was probably taken between 1857 and 1869, with the clothing and hairstyles suggesting the earlier part of that range.

The Photo Detective said...

Hi Randy! The woman's dress and the man's attire suggests it was taken in the 1850s. The image itself doesn't look reflective so it's either an ambrotype or tintype. This narrows the time frame to after 1856 to c. 1860

Your scanner read the glass rather than the image. One of my Epson scanner's does that and the other doesn't.

Caught your posting due to the Practical Archivist.