Dating old photos by clothes radiometric dating volcanic ash
1870s If the portrait is a half or three-quarter (no feet) the ladies hair is less severe, with perhaps a curl, and perhaps much jewellery and perhaps sitting down in a more casual way, clothes trimmed with lace or tassles.The ladies look like they are wearing heavy furnishing rather than dresses.Most cartes were head and shoulders only, the backs were very elaborate and artistic, coloured backs and gold print common.Plain backs with the photographer's name on the lower front, some like this occur from about 1889.Norfolk jackets were popular as were more casual clothes.
Boxes of old photographs can sometimes come down the family with no indication of who the sitters are.
Understanding the history to cartes de visite (CDV) and cabinet cards will also help you narrow down a timeframe. Although usually long gone, you may be able to find them listed in directories. For the 19th century, sleeves can be quite a good starting point.
There are also websites that collect details of photographers. Again, look online for different sleeve shapes through the ages and try to find ones that match those in the photograph. For the 20th century, dress length can be quite revealing.
I’ll start off the list with something I learned while following the advice of a Flickr friend.
We received a Christmas card from the Llewellyn-Bowen family this week, Laurence, his wife and two daughters dressed up in a 1920s jazz style.
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Again, there’s lots of advice online (I particularly like the idea of using dental floss behind the photo and a gentle sawing action).