difficult images: chronological

Difficult Images: Chronological

Figure 1.--This hand painted image unfortunately is not very clear. I'm not sure how accuate the added color is. HBC believes the child is probably a boy in a kilted suit and dates the image at about 1880-85.

A knowledge of stylistic trends is uswful in helping to date images. Some styles appeared in specific years. Others have less specific origins. Knowing just when styles disappeared is more difficult as often styles lingered, but were just less common. Styles tended to last longer and changes less abrupt in the 19th Century than in the late 20th Century when modern mass media can create new popular fashions in very short time frames. Sometimes there are useful clues in the photographs from props or background such as automobiles or houses. Dating the photograph correctly is very important for HBC as it is impossible to determine trends without being able to date the images.

Figure 1

Figure 1 looks to be in a kilted suit. It is clearly a late 19th century portrait. The kilt suit was commonly worn from about 1870-1900. The quality of the photograph suggests to HBC that it was probanly not an 1890s image. The modest size of the collar and bow also suggests that the photograph was taken before 1885 when collars began to significabtly increase in style. Yet it is large enough that it probably was not a 1870s image--especially the early 1870s.

Figure 2

A HBC reader from Texas asked us to date figure 2. It was the readers frandmother and family. HBC would say that because of the small collars and plain suits that the portrait was probably taken about 1875. It looks American to me, but we still have relatively few 19th century European images so that is just a guess at this stage. Long stockings were particularly common in the United States. I don't note any other clues. Undoubtedly an export on women's and girls' dresses could help more here as the dresses are quite destinct.

Figure 3

A HBC reader writes, "I was hoping that you might be willing to answer a question for me. I am doing family research and recently located this picture which is supposed to be of my grandfather. He was born in 1893. The boy in the picture appears to be a teenager, so this would put the date of the picture around 1906 to 1911. Could you tell me if you believe that the clothing style coincides with this time period? It does look similar to some of the pictures you have on your site, but I thought you might verify it for me."

Christopher Wagner

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Created: July 2, 2000
Last updated: November 30, 2002