Dating Photographs

© Vera Zimmerman 2000      Updated 2014


                Photographic Process/Printing Process                  Subject
                Daguerreotypist/Plate Maker/Photographer            Clothing and Hairstyle
                Case/Mat/Album Style                                             Weapons and Props
                Tax Stamps and Postage Stamps                           Houses and Cars

I.    Cased Images - 1839-1867
      A.   Daguerreotype (Da GARE o type) 1839-1865  Peak Years: 1852-1858

      B.   Ambrotype (AM bro type) 1854-1865  Peak Years: 1857-1859

      C.   Tintype (Melainotype or ferrotype) 1856-1867*   Peak Years: 1860-1863
             *Last cased tintypes, produced in various other forms through 1940s

II.   Photography on Paper - 1841-present
       A.   Calotype (CAL o type) 1841-1862  Peak Years: 1852-1857
              Positive image on salted paper from salted paper negative 

       B.   Wet Plate/Albumen Prints 1850-1910  Peak Years: 1860-1890
              Positive print on paper coated with egg whites from collodion on glass negative

              1.   Carte de visite (cart dih vis EET) 1854-1905  Peak Years: 1859-1866
                    Albumen print mounted on 2 1/2” x 4” calling card sized mount
                    a. Tax Stamps - August 1864 - August 1866

              2.   Cabinet Cards 1863-1920s  Peak Years: 1870-1900
                    Albumen print on heavy white card mount 4 ¼” x 6 ½”

              3.   Stereographs 1851-1925  Peak Years: 1858-1905

              4.   Crayon Portraits 1860-early 1900s  Peak Years: 1890-1910

       C.   Dry Plate/Gelatin Prints 1871 - present  Peak Years:1880-2000
              1880 - Gelatin-based paper called Bromide or Silver-Bromide paper
              1884 - Gelatin-based roll film introduced by Eastman Kodak
              1888 - Kodak camera brought photography to the masses.

       D.   Cellulose Nitrate film 1913-1950
              Flammable, unstable, deteriorates easily

       E.   Safety Film - 1947 - present
             Cellulose triacetate, polyester introduced 1960


Bryk, Nancy Villa.  American Dress Pattern Catalogs, 1873-1909
          Dover Publications, NY 1988 LCC 88-10873. ISBN 0-486-25654-5
Dalrymple, Priscilla Harris.  American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs
          Dover Publications, NY, 1991 LCC 90-22012. ISBN 0-486-26533-1
Gagel, Diane Van Skiver.  Windows on the Past: Identifying, Dating, and Preserving
          Photographs, Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, MD 2000. ISBN 0-7884-1620-0
Gorsline, Douglas.  What People Wore: A Visual History of Dress
          Bonanza Books, Viking Press, NY 1952. LCC 52-12392
Mace, O. Henry.  Collectors Guide to Early Photographs
          Krause Publications, Iola, WI 1990. LCC 89-51557. ISBN 0-87069-547-9
Peacock, John.  Costume 1066-1990’s . LCC 94-60271
          Thames and Hudson, NY 1986m 1994, 1996 ISBN 0-500-27791-5
Reilly, James M.  Care and Identification of 19th Century Photographic Prints
          Kodak Pub. No. G-2S, Rochester, NY 1986 LCC 85-081727. ISBN 0-8785-365-4
Severa, Joan.  Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion 1840-1900
          The Kent State University Press.  LCC 95-1155. Kent, Ohio & London 1995.
          ISBN 0-87338-512-8
Taylor, Maureen.  Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs,
          Betterway Books, Cincinnati, OH 2000 LCC 99-051778. ISBN 1-55870-527-9


Antique Photo Guide, <>
Ancestors Found, <>
Daguerreian Society, <>
George Eastman House, <>
Florida State Archives, <>
New Orleans Public Library, Louisiana Photo Collection, <>
LSU Libraries, Special Collections, Andrew D. Lytle, Baton Rouge Photographer,    <>
Library of Congress American Memory, <>
Military, <>
Laminated information sheets available from <>
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