The first step in dating 19th century photographs is identifying which technology was used to create the picture.
This is straightforward detective work for most images, but very early photographs can be misleading.
These were illustrations on government-printed postal cards and on privately printed souvenir cards. Congress on May 19, 1898 granted private printers permission to print and sell cards that bore the inscription Private Mailing Card. Still, no message was permitted on the address side. postal regulations on December 24, 1901 stipulated that the words Post Card should be printed at the top of the address side of privately printed cards.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.Numerous types of photographs appeared and then went out of favor throughout th 1800s.So, the first step in narrowing the possible date for your old photograph is to be able to identify 19th century photographs to determine what type you have.Much of the contents of these guidelines were excerpted with permission from the Beginners Guide to the Hobby of Postcard Collecting, The Capital of Texas Postcard Club.Thanks also to Chuck Harbert; and to Nina Webber, whose donated postcards are used for the examples on this page.Real Photo Postcards are photographs that are reproduced by actually developing them onto photographic paper the size and weight of Postcards, with a Postcard back.There are many Postcards that reproduce photos by various printing methods that are NOT "real photos"..same methods used when reproducing photos in magazines and newspapers.If there is no stamp box, or a generic stamp box, go to Postcards Backs.There is some confusion on what Real Photo Postcards (RPPC) are, and how to differentiate from a printed postcard.