Photo Sleuthing

Joe Nickell

in Real or Fake

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780813125343
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135229 | DOI:
Photo Sleuthing

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  • Social and Cultural History


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This chapter discusses how to identify and date old photos, identify people in photos, and distinguish originals from copies and fakes. Old photographs can be divided into three broad classes — photos on metal, glass-plate images, and paper prints. Dating has a bearing on authentication. The photographer's name and address may also be a useful clue to dating photos. Another is the style of the case or card mount, in the printing style of the other card, or in the portrait style. Questions of identity posed by old photos can be answered using historical investigation and facial-feature analysis. One indicator that a picture is in fact a copy is the obvious presence of the original within the margins of the copy. Another potential indicator comes from elements in a picture that may be anachronistic. The next indicator comes from the direct-positive nature of old photos.

Keywords: photographs; photos on metal; glass-plate images; paper prints; dating; card mount; printing style; historical investigation; facial-feature analysis; fakes

Chapter.  4205 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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