Dating old english photographs
In this series, Jayne Shrimpton, internationally recognised dress historian, portrait specialist, photo detective and regular contributor to Family Tree, Your Family History and Family History Monthly magazines, dates and analyses different types of photographs and helps you to add context to your old family pictures.Having learned in the previous blog how photograph compositions and studio settings changed over the years, we now look closely at what our forebears are wearing in old photographs.Fortunately, most family photographs were made using just a few photographic techniques—for example daguerreotypes, collodion positives and ferrotypes.As well as the process, you can also tell a lot from a photograph’s size or ‘format’.A highly polished silver surface on a copper plate was sensitised to light by exposing it to iodine fumes. Daguerreotypes were sold in Britain throughout the 1840s and into the early 1850s.After exposing the plate in a camera it was developed with mercury vapour. Access to the studios of photographers working with the daguerreotype process around 1850 would have been limited to the middle and upper classes.
John Adams Whipple (1822–1891), working with George Phillips Bond (1825–1865), the director of the Harvard College Observatory, endeavoured to create lunar daguerreotypes of a quality never seen before.Richard Beard opened England’s first public photographic studio in March 1841 in London’s Regent Street, after buying the rights to be sole patentee of the daguerreotype process in England. Johnson’, 1843, Richard Beard, Science Museum Group collection A daguerreotype from 1843 which is thought to be the first photograph showing a photographer at work. Plates They were made on highly polished silver plates.Depending on the angle at which you view them, they can look like a negative, a positive or a mirror.This is a good question but photographic evidence suggests that in many cases even humbler working ancestors followed the latest styles.By the time photography reached a mass market in the 1860s, the concept of fashion was already well-established and was widely understood across the social spectrum.