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Unfortunately many old family photographs are not annotated with the sitter’s name. Will dating my old photograph help me to decide who the subject is?Because of this, these are the questions we get asked again and again. Yes, an accurate date does help to pinpoint who the subject/s of the photograph might be.1860s If you look at the image of the standing person in the photo (or lady sitting on a chair) and you can see both head and feet with a carpet some old furniture and studio props such as a curtain, the man may have a jacket buttoned only at the top and the woman has a down to the ground wide dress and her ears cannot be seen for the hair covering it and the back of the card has a simple print for the photographers name and the cardboard feels a bit thin - it is from the first half of the 1860s. Men wore lounge suits with matching waistcoats by the middle of the decade. 1870s If the portrait is a half or three-quarter (no feet) the ladies hair is less severe, with perhaps a curl, and perhaps much jewellery and perhaps sitting down in a more casual way, clothes trimmed with lace or tassles.Ladies wore tight fitting jackets, high white collars or ruffs a brooch at the neck, lots of buttons in rows, tight fitting sleeves, odd little hats, hair plain or curls usually pulled back.The back of the card is quite filled with print, with medals, famous customers, branches, and could be artistic.Picture inquiries are handled individually and confidentially by email or occasionally in person, if a complete photograph album or fragile pictures are involved.Clients can choose from different services ranging from basic photo dating to advanced picture analysis expressed in a 1-2 page report.

She is the only professional photograph expert who has relevant academic post-graduate qualifications and fashion history training.

Welcome to the fifth in our series of blogs about how to understand and interpret your old family photos.

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.

In any kind of portrait it is often the subject's clothing that engages us most: fashion history is a fascinating topic and recognising the modes of different eras is an invaluable tool when trying to date unlabelled photographs.

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