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History, Conservation, and Repair The history of photographic prints, and how best to care for and repair them.

Photograph Technique Puzzle

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Old 01-14-2008, 06:30 PM
booklady booklady is offline
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Smile Photograph Technique Puzzle


I'm attaching a family photograph that I'm struggling with as far as identifying the technique. So, I'm looking for some expert advice.

I'm dating it to around late 1800s to around 1900 based on my great-grandmother's age in the photograph. These pictures when touched smudge as if chalk or charcoal.

We're having a family debate over what type of technique has been used. I think at a glance they look more like a drawing than an actual photograph, but my Mom insists they are a deteriorating photograph.

Any help you could give would be appreciated and put an end to our "family feud."

As a side note, we see this type of photograph/drawing in Cracker Barrel restaurants a lot!
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File Type: jpg Family Photo5.JPG (96.5 KB, 85 views)
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:40 PM
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Stephen A Stephen A is offline
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Re: Photograph Technique Puzzle

Looks like water color and charcoal to me, but I suppose it could be a old photo that was touched up at one point in history.
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:16 PM
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Janet Petty Janet Petty is offline
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Re: Photograph Technique Puzzle

Since I have many, many photographs that look almost exactly the same and in the same condition as these, I'm pretty sure that they are printed on a type of cardboard (don't know what it is really called). Anyway, the photo is printed on very stiff, thick paper. Mine have yellowed and aged in very much the same manner. All of the ones I have were done in the late 1880s and 1890s.

Yes, they look like some sort of hand drawing; but bear in mind that the quality of glass in a lens back then produced softer photos.

Just a guess. I do hope I'm right.

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Old 01-17-2008, 06:28 AM
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Alison Alison is offline
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Re: Photograph Technique Puzzle

Would they be cabinet prints Janet ?
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Old 01-17-2008, 06:50 AM
bills bills is offline
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Re: Photograph Technique Puzzle

While I am not stating this as a for sure...
It was popular in early portraiture to do heavy "retouching" with soft pencils on the negative or negative plate. I have seen this before and your photo looks very similar.

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