|An Outline Describing the Types of Photographic Images Found Within this Website, Including Styles, Sizes, Dating, etc.
While the scope of this site deals primarily with photographic images taken during the second half of the 19th Century it is felt that a basic course in the general methods and terminology used in the production of the before said images. It is not
intended that a complete and detailed account of photographic history be presented here but simply enough information to provide the viewer a working knowledge with many of the terms used within this site.
Tintype of Ferrotype: Popular between about 1860 and 1890 these images are actually negative images developed on thin sheet iron plates, a thin black Japan varnish undercoating allows the image to be viewed as positive. Since the image
is in reality a negative the image always appears reversed. Tintypes were far more popular in the United States than in Britain (where they were known as Ferrotypes) making British military subjects of this type somewhat rare. They come in a variety of
sizes with the largest being a "full plate" measuring 6 1/2 inches by 8 1/2 inches (approximately 16.5 x 21.5 cm) on down incrementally to the 1/16 plate measuring 1 3/8 inches by 1 5/8 inches (approximately 3.5 x 4.2 cm) with so-called Gemtypes being
Carte de Visite: French for 'visiting card" this popular type of image was invented by Andre-Adolphe-Eugene Disdere in 1855 and remained in use until the very early 1900's was still seen in central and eastern Europe up and until the World
War one-era. The Cartes generally measures about 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches (approximately 6.5 x 10.5 cm). The earliest Cartes tend to have very thin and plain mounts with the only ornamentation being the photographer's cartouche on the reverse.
Late Cartes can have colored mounts, gold edging and ornate gold stamping on the front of the mount.
Cabinet Photographs: These larger brother to the Carte de Visite were produced from the mid 1860's until about 1920 but most commonly from the 1870's until about 1900. They seem to have persisted in Eastern Europe much longer than
elsewhere. Like the Carte de Visite the thinner and plainer the Cabinet Photograph's mount the earlier it's year of production with the more ornate mounts being of late the 1880's or 1890's. Cabinet Photographs generally measure 4 1/2 inches by 6 1/2
inches (approximately 11 x 16.5 cm).
Mounted Photographs: A generic catchall term that will be used to describe the plethora of Cabinet or Carte style photographs that due to their size do not quite fit into either category. These can include mini Cartes sometimes called the
Trilby that measure 2 inches by 2 1/2 inches (approximately 5 x 6.5 cm) up to the huge Imperial Cabinet Cards that measure up to 10 inches (25.5 cm). Also included is any photograph various sizes and thicknesses of paper or card stock backing
Stereographs: Generally these cards measure 7 inches by 3 1/2 inches (approx. 18cm x 9cm) and consist of a stiff card mount with two side by side photographic images taken with a unique twin lensed camera. The resulting images when viewed
through a special viewer produces and three dimensional effect. Popular from the middle of the 19th Century until the 1920's.
Real Photo Postcards: Dating from around 1900 and after, these are exactly as their name describes - postcards with a real photograph from a negative on the obverse with the usual post card reverse. They also tend to be the same size as
modern postcards 2 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches (9cm x 14cm).
Unmounted Photographs: A general term for any paper based photographic image of any size or time period not mounted on a card backing or other substrate.
Glass Plate Images: The earliest popular photographic images of the 19th Century, Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes are not represented in this collection at this time and therefore will not be described. There are several glass plate negatives
in the Soldiers of the Queen collection and positive reproduction of those negatives will be included in the gallery directly related to their content.
A certain measure of protection must be given to antique photographic images if they are to be preserved for future generations. The biggest enemy of vintage photographs is light. Images should never be stored or displayed in direct light be it sun
light or that from bright artificial sources. Under no circumstances should photographs be allowed to be exposed to fluorescent light. Fluorescent bulbs give off vast amounts of ultraviolet light which quickly causes permanent damage to any
photographic images. The best form of protection is to store photographs in protective archival plastic sleeves which in turn should be stored in acid free binders or boxes. I add an additional layer of protection by storing said binders in acid free slip
cases which keep out the light as well as dust.
When handling antique images always hold the image or card by its edges and never touch the image emulsion itself with your finger since finger prints can be next to impossible to remove with out further damaging the image itself. If possible use
white cotton archivists gloves when you decide to handle to images.
Personally I never display original images on the wall. If there is an image which I would like to display I will scan it into my computer then preform any editing in Adobe Photoshop. I will then print out a copy using a high resolution ink jet printer.
The most current ink jet printers using light fast inks are capable of producing images of outstanding sharpness and clarity which will not begin to fade for an excess of 75 years. An added benefit of this process is the ability of correcting any defects
without actually altering the historic original should this be desired.
The books listed below offer excellent in depth information on the identification, preservation and care of antique photographic images of all types.
Jack & Sue
Publication No. F-40
O. Henry Mace
|An Once of
Craig A. Tuttle
I have decided after much thought not to include information regarding the specific process used in the production of each individual photograph. While knowing which technical method was used to produce a given image can be helpful in dating it, the
identification of that process - Albumen, Gelatin-Silver, Salt, Carbon, Woodburry etc. - almost aways requires the close examination of the actual photograph and often under high magnification. In addition many types of processes produced prints that
are almost impossible to tell apart such as Carbon prints and Woodbury prints. This problem is exacerbated by the inability to convey these differences on a computer monitor. I could describe them but the viewer would not be able to tell the difference.
For these reasons I have decided not to delve into this aspect photographic history. Several of the above listed books illustrate and describe these various photographic processes in far greater detail and all are highly recommended.