Go to My Main Victorian Photograph Site

Date an Old UK Photograph

Which decade?

1860s CDV
1860s
1870s CDV
1870s
1880s CDV
1880s
1890s CDV
1890s
1900s Cabinet card
1900s
1910s Postcard
1910s
1920s Postcard
1920s
1860s CDV 1870s CDV 1880s CDV - two pages! 1890s CDV 1900s Cabinet edge design 1900 onward, design not datable 1921, design not datable

1860s*** 1870s - Page 1*** 1870s - Page 2***1880s - Page 1*** 1880s - Page 2*** 1890s*** 1900s

You can now make an attempt to date the photograph from the design on the back - click on the image of the back to see 12 or more card designs from each decade

Read the description below then go to my list of ladies by year

A short description of fashion and photographic changes after 1860


1860s CDV   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. If you can see her ears it is the later 1860s. Such cards usually have square corners.
1870s CDV   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. Men wore lounge suits with matching waistcoats by the middle of the decade. The ladies look like they are wearing heavy furnishing rather than dresses. The cardboard is thicker and stronger (less flexible than a playing card) and the printing on the back is typeset with fonts but usually one large word, and perhaps a border, and the rest small and coloured inks may be used and a logo may appear. The card may have rounded corners - (mid to late 1870s). These date from the 1870s. (Some still show full length and a carpet in the early 1870s)
1880s CDV   1880s
The ladies dress may be severe and close fitting or it has a bustle (1881-1886 ish), skirts had pleated edges, boys wore sailor suits and velvet suits, Men did not wear frock coats and wore a morning-coat suit or a lounge suit, top hat, bowler or straw hat. Norfolk jackets were popular as were more casual clothes. 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. Studio furniture and chairs look as if from a fine country house.
1890s CDV   1890s
Women wore tailor-made suits and plain with little ornamentation (brooch at the neck), hair in a bun with no fringes. Sleeves became wider until by 1895 the 'leg of mutton' shape with sort of upstanding 'wings' on the shoulders. Collars were high and with a ruffle or lace under the stiff outer. Sleeves became tighter by 1897 and frilled bodices came into fashion. Most cartes were head and shoulders only, the backs were very elaborate and artistic, coloured backs and gold print common. Plain backs with the photographer's name on the lower front, some like this occur from about 1889. Many cabinet card seem to date from the 1880s and 1890s
1900s Cabinet card   1900 and after
Wide sleeved blouses were still worn for a few years, but for many this was the era of the blouse and simple skirt and straw boater hat, and wide hats for special occasions. Those enormously wide brimmed hats date from June 1911 onward and were often worn with a short slit in the skirt. In the 1920s hair was cut short (for some) and the hemline rose for the first time ever. in 1898 Postcards replaced cabinet cards and CDVs as the main type of cheap studio portrait and peaking during the First World War. Some cabinet and CDV photos were produced for the first decade of the century as there was still a demand, but the later cabinet card looked a little different, simple logo and studio on the bottom front and often with embossed patterns or channels and saw-cut edges or pinking and rarely any writing on the back.


More Information


Homepage




Roger F.Vaughan 2004