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Photograph Technique Puzzle

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  • 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!
    Attached Files

  • #2
    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.


    • #3
      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.



      • #4
        Re: Photograph Technique Puzzle

        Would they be cabinet prints Janet ?


        • #5
          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.