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Tips on How to Determine the Age of a Photograph

written by: johnsinit•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/8/2010

There have probably been times when you've been sorting through your old pictures and have come across an unrecognizable photo or two, which you have no idea when they were taken. This article will provide you with some tips on how to determine the age of a photograph.

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    Old Photographs Are Everywhere!

    Coming across old photographs is not uncommon, especially when you visit an antique store or a bargain street store, and this encounter usually elicits an air of enigma, often making you wonder how the people of old lived their respective lives and what were the experiences held by people of the past. A lot of people take special interest in gathering old pictures, including those they are not familiar with or have no knowledge of. It becomes important to them to learn how to determine the age of a photograph.

    People do take special interest in retrieving and analyzing these old photographs as their curiosity is aroused by the mystery of the people in the old photos, where and how they lived, based on their posturing and the kind of clothes they wore. There are several tips you can follow when learning how to determine the age of a photograph, and this becomes pretty useful and interesting in your sorting and rummaging activities, as well as when you intend on archiving your old photos.

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    The Age of a Photograph CAN be Determined!

    There are indications both explicit and implicit which help you in finding out the age of a photograph. Upon close scrutiny, you can study the attire and the positioning of the subjects, and even the background and decorations used, in order to find out the approximate date of the photograph.

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    Check The Photo Closely

    First of all, examine the photograph for any markings, whether in front or at the back of the photograph. Usually, collectors do indicate the date of the photograph in order to document and record the specific picture. It can be a simple year marking, or it may be the complete date, with descriptions or identifications of the persons in the photograph, and may even include the specific occasion of the same.

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    Look at The Haircuts...

    The next step is to check on the hairstyles of the people in the photograph. Similar to fashion trends that have their times, hairstyles also have their respective generations. Be it the haircut of a man or the hair arrangement of a woman, both gives a vivid indication on how to determine the age of a photograph. For instance, hairstyles using permanent treatment could indicate the photograph was taken in the 1980s, while curled and wavy hairstyles could lead you to conclude that the picture was taken in the 70s. Typical 70s Haircut 

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    ... and Clothing

    Another good indication of the age of the photograph would be the clothing fashion manifested. This would probably be the best and easiest gauge in finding out the date of the photograph, because the clothing fashion trend really took significant changes and revisions over the passage of time. Realizing the different fashion styles in clothing from the more prominent dress cuts and styles down to the smallest button, sleeve, or collar, you can have a working knowledge on how to determine the age of a photograph. Cyprus Family - circa 1940 

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    More Advanced Methods

    There are also peripheral methods on how to determine the age of a photograph, such as wearing ultraviolet glasses to check the glossiness of the photograph, as pictures before the 1950s do not manifest glossy effects on them. There is also the use of single paper evident in modern prints, while the old ones making use of double paper to include borders in the photographs. Old Photo