What to Know About Family Photographs

When a family member passes on, it's not uncommon for relatives to undercover a dusty shoebox full of family photographs. The first step is identifying photos and understanding the unique evolution of photography, which can help date family pictures.

  • Daguerreotypes - This is one of the oldest types of photographs. Distinguished by its distinctive thin copper, mirror-like silver coating and sealed glass, these types of photographs were often placed in wood cases with paper or leather covering. These types of photographs were popular from 1839 to 1860. These types of photographs were extremely difficult to produce, which limited them in size 2.5 to 3.25 inches. They were rarely larger than 6.5 to 8.5 inches.
  • Salt Prints - These are often identified by a super smooth, but dull surface. They lack detail and range in hue from purple-black to brick red. Most of these types of prints suffer from extreme damage and fading. These were most popular from 1839 to 1860.
  • Albumen Prints - An improvement over the aforementioned salt prints, these pictures are distinguished by a purple-brown color. It is believed that more than 80-percent of photographs that survive from the 1800s are printed on albumen paper. Paper fibers are visible, as is lateral cracking. These photographs yellow over time, losing highlights and clarity.
  • Ambrotypes - This method used a wet plate negative and photographs were mounted in cases. These were popular from 1851 to 1880.
  • Tintypes - This expensive form of photography used iron instead of glass backing. The most common size was between 2.5 and 3.5 inches, and this form of photography was popular between 1854 and into the 1930s.
  • Crayon Portraits - These often appeared as a sketch, which resulted from weak photographic images. These were popular in the 1860s into the 1900s.
  • Carbon Prints - High quality, these prints were often overlooked because they were extremely time-consuming to produce.
  • Platinum Prints - These are distinguished by a steel-gray color and were popular from 1880 to 1930.
  • Cyanotypes - Known as "blueprints," these photographs eventually replaced albumen paper.

When preserving photographs, people have to be concerned about environmental deterioration. This is the easiest element to control, as ideal humidity levels are 50-percent with a +/-5-percent variation. Temperatures should remain close to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, with a fluctuation of +/- 2 degrees.

Victorian Frame Company specializes in offering a wide variety of antique-style picture frames that are perfect for showcasing antique photo reproductions or original prints. They offer an assortment of shapes, including cathedral, hexagon, oblong, octagon, oval, rectangle and round. Victorian Frame Company also offers home decor, including oval wall mirrors, vintage mirrors and custom mirrors.

7th Jan 2014

Recent Posts