Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nothing to go on...

This appears to be one of the oldest photos in the collection and has nothing to clue me into a name, date or location. 

This photo is called a Carte De Visite and was common from 1859 - 1870 They were commonly given as calling cards and left during a visit, the Carte De Visite was supplanted by the Cabinet card in about 1870. 

We have a few clues to help us at least roughly date this picture. We have the card itself, and we have the little girl. Cards prior to 1870 would not have the photographers name printed or watermarked onto the card itself, but would sometimes have a stamp or hand written signature on the back. 

So we have black card stock that appears to have rounded edges, but if you look closer the edges were square and have been trimmed, smashed and shaped purposely or with time. This alone should date the card to late early stage of its life 1860 - 1870. Then we look at the photographers mark or in this case lack of. 

I can not find any photographers mark, no stamp, imprint etc. However looking closely at the back of the card is some trace of lead or charcoal pencil marks, hopefully I will learn a way o reveal these. This again seems to confirm the age of this card. The newer the card the more ornate the photographers stock should be.   

Lastly lets look at the girl and the props she is posed with. She is standing and the picture shows her from foot to head, she is wearing a fair amount of decorative lace at sleeves and collar, there are no petticoats nor a true bustle. This again seems to hint at the time period between 1860-1870  

Please note that I dont have any formal training on how to do this properly, all I can do is read from various sources (Yes counting Wikipedia) and compare this picture to others that have been positively identified, In other words I might be completely wrong. As my understanding of the people and the periods these pictures contain I should get better at identifying and understanding them.  

Here is a minimally restored version


  1. Colleen Fitzpatrick, PHD wrote Forensic Genealogy, which I have used over the years to help identify old photos. Like you, I have had no professional training, but Colleen's book helped in identifying time periods, etc. Also, do any of the other photos have the same background, table, table scarf or photo album? If so, they would have probably been taken in the same studio or home.

    Anne in Oregon

  2. Thank you for the recommendation of the book, as for the other photos I have only scratched the surface and have not seen other photos in the same setting but will be keeping an eye open for the same props setting etc.