Dating Nineteenth Century Photographs

Robert Pols (2005) 112pp, A5

Robert Pols is an established writer, and is the author of several books on old photographs. This work and its companion, Dating Twentieth Century Photographs, replace his earlier work Dating Old Photographs (FFHS 1995). In this newer book Pols brings his considerable expertise in the subject to take his readers through the various factors and details that (usually in combination) will enable them to date a Victorian era photograph to within a few years.

Commencing with a resume of the photographic processes of the era, from the Daguerreotypes of the 1840’s to the celluloid roll film and Box Brownie cameras of 1900, Pols takes the reader through the changing styles of photographic prints, their mounts, casings and frames, to the various fashions in studio settings and portraiture. He then considers the photographers, their warrants and periods of activity, and finally moves on to the costume fashions of their subjects during the period–for men, women and children. He also includes two chapters giving guidance on copying and caring for old photographs.

Having taken the reader through the processes and photographic formats of the Victorian era photograph, the concluding chapter reinforces the text through 36 photographic figures and 11 very useful dating charts. Overall, a valuable guide and tool, and a must to those seeking an answer to that all too common question–when was that photo taken? The clues to look for are well described in this book!

Tony Roberts

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