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April 21, 2007

Dating Ancestor Photographs Before 1900

If you are lucky enough to have an ancestor photograph or family photograph album, you can date it according to the type of photograph.

Daguerreotypes (ca 1839)
Photography in USA began circa 1839 but not many are found before 1854.

Ambrotypes (circa 1854)
The ambrotype was a glass negative backed with black material so it appeared as a positive image

Tintypes (ca 1855)
The Ferrotype process (tintypes) was introduced in the United States in 1855. It substituted an iron plate for glass and is one of a kind. No copies could be made from a tintype.

Carte de Visite or CDVs (ca 1859)
CDV stands for carte de visite. CDVs replaced ambrotypes, producing a card 2.5 by 4" CDVs arrived in the United States around 1859, on the eve of the Civil War (1861- 1865). On June 30, 1864 a tax on photographs, ambrotypes, daguerreotypes and other "sun-pictures" went into effect. Tax Revenue Stamps had to be placed on the backs of photographs from that date (1864) until August 1, 1866. This helps date CDVs taken in this time period.

Cabinet Cards (circa 1870)
CDV´s were replaced in the 1870s by Cabinet Cards which were on a larger 4 by 6" card.

Lost Faces - Ancestor Photos
I am pleased to now offer individual quality photographic reproductions for sale! You can purchase a photographic reproduction of any ancestor photo from my Civil War era photo albums. I have rescued over 3000 one-of-a-kind identified family photos taken 1850 to 1900. See

Article by Lorine McGinnis Schulze. Permission is granted to reproduce this article in its entirety including this footer. All URLs must remain intact

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