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Introduction : In this article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak shows how you can date old, undated family photos by first figuring out what type of photograph they are, and uses old newspapers and other sources to illustrate different types of photos. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. Do you have a box of old, undated family photos somewhere up in the attic-or maybe buried in the back of some closet? Have you wondered how you were ever going to figure out who these family members might be, since the old photographs lack inscriptions or dates? Genealogy is a lot like detective work, gathering clues to make the pieces of your family puzzle fit together. Old, undated family photographs are pieces of evidence, clues that-if you examine closely enough-might yield some answers.

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One easy way to approximate when a postcard was mailed if the cancellation date is unreadable is to know the changes in rates for mailing postcards. The following table comes from Historical statistics of the United States: colonial times toand Statistical abstract.

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When World War I ended at the end ofthe rate was lowered to its pre-War level of one cent. Allmer states p. Commission Rate Board over-estimated revenue needs in and was forced to reduce postage rate in Two major postcard publishers, Curt Teich and Detroit Publishing Company, used numbering schemes that can be helpful in dating a card. In the beginning, Teich apparently made no attempt to define when a card was printed.

Research has revealed some consistencies however, such as these:. The company used code numbers and letters to indicate the date the card was published. The codes appear either on the scenic side or in the postage box. The number and letter before the dash in the code stand for the date.

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The number indicates the last figure in the date and the letter indicates the decade. The letters and figures after the dash pertain to the printing process used and the number of issues that year.

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Code number 3A-H is therefore translated to be printed in the year The "H" refers to the printing method called Art Colortone. For more information, visit the Curt Teich Postcard Archives web site. The Detroit Publishing Company b egan numbering its cards with Number 1.

Dating by mount type and style provides a rough indicator for identifying images. The caveat is that many photographers, particularly in more remote areas, failed to keep up to photographic fashion and used old mounts until their stocks were exhausted. Postcard producers printed cards that followed the current trends of postcards. Dates can be approximated by the material and design of a postcard. Our Postcard History page provides information about these general trends. For example, a card printed on linen was most likely produced between and 31 rows  If you can identify the paper manufacturer, you can approximate the age of the old postcard. If the postcard has a stamp box, click on one of stamp box links below. If there is no stamp box, or a generic stamp box, go to Postcards Backs.

Some of these same cards were later reproduced in the series. Detroit postcards are easy to manage by the number, regardless of subject.

Inherent content of the picture may be helpful in dating assuming that the postcard used a recent view.

Old Photo Identification by Nicky Smith

What style of clothes are the people wearing? Look at the modes of transportation. Horse-drawn vehicles? What model of vehicles? On a card that was not mailed, the first place to look is the stamp box.

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Stamp boxes are the small rectangular boxes printed on the upper right hand side, where the stamp is to be affixed. By comparing identical mailed and unmailed cards, researchers have developed a pattern to determine when a particular style of card was produced. On real photo post cards, codes in the stamp boxes can also be helpful in dating the card.

Sep 05,   Movie star postcards have been collected by the public since the silent era. New York Giants real photo postcard with the blank panel for writing at the bottom. Only the address could be written on the back. Dating Real Photo Postcards In the United States real photo postcards originated in Oct 14,   Introduction: In this article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak shows how you can date old, undated family photos by first figuring out what type of photograph they are, and uses old newspapers and other sources to illustrate different types of archotelzeeland.com is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. Do you have a box of old, undated family photos . Since I'm no fashionista, I turned to websites such as Family Chronicle, which also has published two books on dating photos, for help in matching styles with a particular archotelzeeland.comting experts such as Maureen Taylor, whose website includes a blog and provides teleseminars, are also a good resource. In my photo, both men are wearing loose-fitting jackets with wide lapels.

Stamp boxes on printed or lithographed cards also offer dating clues. Often there is a reference in the box to the amount of postage required.

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Of course, if the card is used and has a stamp, that too gives a clue, both by its value, and the style of stamp itself. For U.

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When World War I ended at the end ofthe rate was lowered to its prewar level of one cent. The postal rate was raised briefly from 1 cent to 2 cents in and in ; the conclusive raise to 2 cents was in Commission Rate Board overestimated revenue needs in and was forced to reduce the postage rate in Post Card Eras.

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Pioneer Era Most of the earliest American picture post cards that exist today are those that were sold at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, starting on May 1, These were illustrations on government-printed postal cards and on privately printed souvenir cards. The government postal cards included a printed 1-cent stamp; the privately printed souvenir cards required a 2-cent adhesive postage stamp to be affixed.

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Messages were not permitted on the address side of the cards; after attempting various forms of explaining that regulation, the U. Private Mailing Card Era An Act of U. The required postage was a 1-cent adhesive stamp. At this time, a dozen or more American printers began to focus on post card production. Still, no message was permitted on the address side.

Real Photo Post Cards to Post cards that are actual photographic replications were first produced around They provide a quality black and white photographic record of history in the making and they can usually be enlarged somewhat without losing image quality.

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They may or may not have a white border, or a divided back, or other features of post cards, depending on the paper the photographer used. Many of the real photo post cards being done at the current time are reproductions of earlier historic photos.

Dating old postcard photos

The easiest way to distinguish a real photo postcard is to look at it under a magnifying glass; it will show smooth transitions from one tone to another. Photo post card paper is currently only available from foreign sources.

First, let us look at the clues that will help you to date an old photo. 1. Clothing and Accessories. When we look at our old family photos one of the first things that is brought to our attention is the clothing. Like today, fashions in the past did change. What our ancestors wore and what accessories that appear in the photograph can also help us. Pioneer Era Although the world's first picture postcards date from the s to the mids, most of the earliest American picture postcards extant today are those that were sold at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, starting on May 1. Post Card History and Dating Methods Although the world's first picture post cards date from the s to the mids, post cards, as we know them, came into being in the United States about Prior to that time, there were trade cards and postal cards, which usually carried advertising or printed messages.

Undivided Back Era If you can identify the paper manufacturer, you can approximate the age of the old postcard. If the postcard has a stamp box, click on one of stamp box links below.

If there is no stamp box, or a generic stamp box, go to Postcards Backs. All entries on one page may be slow to load.



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