Digging through a file of (very) old family photos, I found a couple of photos like this:

enter image description here

The thing is about 10cm (4 inches) height, and it looks like a film glued to a fairly thick cardboard.

This is pretty ancient, from the notes by my grandma on the back it could be her own grandma (so the thing would be done around 1880).

Is this a photo (Daguerreotype, other?) or something else?

So yes, it looks like a drawing, but it could be a photo of a drawing. And this picture of her husband is definitely a photo (there is the photographer's logo and address on the back).

enter image description here

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Looks more like a drawing or sketch than a photo. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Aug 13, 2020 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @xiota see augmented question... \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Aug 13, 2020 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


A Daguerreotype would be an image viewable by differential reflection on a silvered copper plate; it would surely not resemble film pasted on cardboard.

The upper image is most likely a print. If actually made in 1880, it might have been from a collodion negative, or a dry plate, or a Kodak paper negative (from the first consumer camera) or just possibly then-new celluloid film. Most silver image prints of the day were albumen process, and tended to a very warm tone, but gelatin was just getting started (originated in the early 1870s) for printing, as well as plates and film, so it might well be a gelatin print -- and as suggested quite possibly a photograph of a professionally drawn portrait (from the days when that was actually cheaper than a photograph, or before 1840 when there were no photographs yet).


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