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We need your support as a member to keep the better sites in the popular section, so give us your opinion.Family history and collecting old photographs are two very popular pastimes these days and old photographs can pose many questions such as ‘Who is it? Not many family photographs exist from that era unless they are beautiful images on a polished silver plate (that looks like a mirror).

This was a much cheaper process and allowed copies to be taken from a negative.

Suddenly photography was available to the masses as well as the gentry and family albums became a must for most Victorian families.

Carte de visite and cabinet portraits were also enlarged, over-painted in oils or crayon and framed. By the very late 1890s and especially by the 1900s, the topographical postcard was becoming very popular.

From about 1904, many photographers responded by producing studio portraits in the postcard format – even having the words Postcard on the back so that they could be sent through the mail to family and friends.

The tintype (also known as the ferrotype in the USA) was produced on a thin metal plate and was usually of a rather muddy appearance.

Tintypes were cheap and were still used by UK street and beach photographers in the 1940s and 1950s – long after the Second World War.

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There we have it, a brief overview of the early years of photography covering the photographs that you are most likely to see.

There are others such as the early calotype and the revolutionary 1904 colour images called Autochromes but these are rather unusual.

Whatever you have in your family collection, the key thing is to look after those precious images in your care – for now and for future generations.

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