Dating A Cabinet Card Photo

scan024-1I have a photo of an adorable child to share with you today.  I say child since it is difficult to determine if this is a little girl or a little boy.  At this time period they were dressed identically.  The only way of telling, by tradition, is that a girl or woman’s hair would be parted in the middle.  My guess would be this is a little boy, but that is only a supposition!

scan026-1I wanted to show you the entire cabinet card because it contains clues that will help us date this photo.  The first thing we will look at is the plain edge of the card, nothing fancy.  Next is the thin, single line border, this was begun in 1884 and went through 1900.  Another clue is the cursive font used for the photographers name.  In earlier cards the font was simple with no decoration around the name.  Again, in 1884, the more elaborate fonts were used.  The natural color of the card was begun in 1870 when cabinet cards were first introduced; but this was used up until 1900.

scan025-1Now lets look at the back of the card.  Originally there was nothing on the back of cabinet cards.  In 1872 a design would cover half the back, and by 1886 they used a full design.  So I think we can safely say this photo was taken about 1886-1887.  If you get into the 1890’s the use of wicker chairs was very prominent.

If you would like more information about dating photos you can check out a great book I found on Amazon – 19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide.  It’s very helpful!

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