Fwd: Interesting Article on Photos - Jane Benson
Subject: Fwd: Interesting Article on Photos
From: Jane Benson
Date: June 30, 1999

DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Column
>                  APRIL 17, 1998 
>                               DECIPHERING AGE OF OLD PHOTOS 
>                  From: Maux
>                  DearMYRTLE,
>                  Do you know, or have any idea how we can find out what
> dates tintypes were popular? I have
>                  one that has a name on it but we have a person by that
> name in two different generations.
>                  Thought if we knew when tintypes were in use it might
> us determine which is in the
>                  picture. Thank you. 
>                  DearMAUX,
>                  There have been many responses to the book review on
> Tuesday. Now Harold has got me
>                  going on this photo-genealogy! He has several books on
> subject and helped me write
>                  today's article. Guess I'll have to fix him a special
> dinner tonight! Anyway, here is a brief
>                  summary of the basic types of photographs created and
> time periods they were used: 
>                  DAGUERREOTYPE- Began use in late 1830 gained popularity
> 1843 and continued in
>                  popularity through 1861, and declined in use until
> generally they stopped being produced in
>                  1868. - Involved mirror-silver followed by on-glass
>                  CALOTYPE - Popular 1845-1855. Involved exposing
> light-sensitized paper in the large
>                  camera box, then washing with developer, water rinse,
> followed by hyposulfite to fix the
>                  image. After drying, this paper negative was placed on
> another sheet of light-sensitized
>                  paper, so a positive image was produced. It also was
> washed with developer, rinsed and
>                  fixed. 
>                  AMBROTYPE - Began use in 1850 gaining steady popularity
> through 1958, followed by a
>                  slow decline is usage which eventually dropped off by
> about 1875. These are distinguished
>                  by their heavy leather or wood frames with the black
> placed behind the
>                  collodion-based coated/exposed glass image. The images
> kept in a case to protect the
>                  pieces from being separated. Typically an ambrotype
> includes a decorative front plate, an
>                  oval cut mat, the image on glass, the black paper, and a
> wooden backing, which holds all
>                  parts together. Ambrotypes are not as bright as
> daguerotypes. 
>                  TINTYPE - (also known as malainotypes and ferrotypes)
> image is created after the
>                  manner of ambrotype glass plates, except that the
> collodion emulsion coats thin metal.
>                  Therefore, tintypes were lighter weight and less costly
> produce. 
>                  Tintypes began to be produced about 1854, hitting a peak
> time period of use in 1860, with a
>                  long slow decline though 1898. Therefore, if you have
> family tintypes, you will need to
>                  consider other clues in the photo when attempting to
> determine the age of the photograph.
>                  Clothing and women's hair styles will provide your
> greatest clues. 
>                  CARTE-DE-VISITE - Most popular 1860-1865 followed by a
> long, slow decline in usage
>                  ending about 1898. This process involved multiple
> exposures on a single plate,
>                  typically 6 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches. This was the first form
> of mass-production of photos. After
>                  developing, the thin albumen paper multi-print was cut
> into individual images, which were
>                  mounted on the cards with flour paste. 
>                  CABINET CARD - 1865-1920. Typically four times larger
> the Carte de Visites. Because
>                  of this increase in size, a skilled photographer could
> "touch up" the photo to eliminate
>                  blemishes. Cabinet card photos were typically presented
> elaborate padded photograph
>                  albumns with compartments to hold one or four cainet
> per page. They were also
>                  displayed on mantles. Dating these photos involves
> at card colors, borders and
>                  corners. These differences are quite pronounced. 
>                  The photo is mounted on a variety of card stocks for
> backings as follows:
>                  light weight white card stock 1866-1880
>                  different colors for front and back of card 1880-1890
>                  front: buff-colored, matte, back: light yellow, glossy
> 1882-1888
>                  The border of the card stock around the mounted photo
> changed dramatically:
>                  red or golden single or double lines 1866-1880
>                  wide golden 1884-1885
>                  golden beveled edge 1885-1892
>                  single line border with rounded corners 1889-1896
>                  metalic green or golden colored pressed border 1890-1892
>                  pressed outer border no color 1896 
>                  The corners bear distinctive markings:
>                  square, straight-edged on lightweight card stock
>                  square, scalloped sides on heavyweight card stock
>                  WET-PLATE PRINT - Began usage about 1853, very popular
> during the Civil War then
>                  slowly declining in popularity after 1885 until 1901.
> exposure to treated glass plates as
>                  large as 18X22 inches. Typically one thinks of the great
> Mathew Brady Civil War
>                  photo-documentaries. Also popular were outdoor exposures
> of some of the great points of
>                  interest in the western wilderness, including the views
> beside the railroad lines, the Grand
>                  Canyon and Yosemite. Studio portraits made by this
> were less stilted, since the
>                  exposure time was greatly reduced by the wet-plate
> process. Prints were made and
>                  mounted on heavyweight card stock. 
>                  STEROGRAPH - This involved using the small
> type photos mounted in
>                  tandem on a card backing. Because the photos are almost
> identical, when viewed through
>                  the optic lenses of the holder, the images blend to give
> 3-dimensional look. Harold and I
>                  have one of these and about 25 sets of photos. My
> grandchildren love looking at these
>                  marvelous photos. Good bribery material! 
>                  Here are some good books on the subject: 
>                  Gernshiem, Helmut & Alison, The History of Photography,
> 1685-1914. New York,
>                  McGraw-Hill, 1969. 
>                  Gilbert, George, Photography: The Early Years - a
> Historical Guide for Collectors. New York,
>                  Harper & Row, 1980. 
>                  Shaw, Renata V., A Century of Photographs 1846-1946 -
> Selected from the Collections of
>                  the Library of Congress. Washington, Library of
> 1980. 
>                  Have fun climbing your family tree! 
>                  Myrt   :) 

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