Frequently Asked Questions

Old Photos



Are there any books about dating old photographs?

Here are two both written by Robert Pols.  Both have illustrations and notes about collecting.  The prices I paid are a) 8.95,  b) 4.95

a)  Looking at Old Photographs
-  Published by the Federation of Family History Societies 1998   
   ISBN 1 85306 586 2

b)  Dating Old Photographs
-  Published by the Federation of Family History Societies 1992   
   ISBN 1 86006 013 7

Ron Cosens, who has a personal collection of over 100,000 old photographs, is passing on some of his knowledge through a series of articles for Photographica World, a magazine published by PCCGB (The Photogrpahic Collectors' Club of Great Britain).  The first of these articles is to appear in the 2003/2 edition, no.104.



Are there any web sites listing early photographers in other cities?

I don't know of other web sites, but two sets of small booklets have been published, one set covering several towns and cities in Britain, the other set covering Scotland.  Please click the link below for further details.

RPS PhotoHistorical Supplements and
SGS Lists of Scottish Photographers

Alternatively, if you have just one or two queries, you could email me and ask if I have the appropriate booklets in my collection.  If I do have them, I'll look up the information, and let you know what I find.



Who can tell me about James Valentine photos?

James Valentine's business was established in the mid-19th century in Dundee.  a large number of landscape photographs were produced, some of Scotland, some further afield.  In later years, the company went on to be one of Britain's major producers of post cards.

When James Valentine ceased trading, their records and a large collection of their photographs were passed on to St Andrews University Library.  This library has produced a useful little booklet, enabling the date of a negative to be discovered, given the 'JV' number printed on a photograph.

For further details see the St Andrews University Library  web site, which has a link to a page for asking Questions about their collection.



Where can I buy old pictures of Edinburgh?

There are a few shops in Edinburgh that sell 19th century engravings, normally hand-coloured and mounted behind card.  One of these shops that you could try is Scottish Pictures, 64 West Bow, Edinburgh.



I have old photos with numbers on them.  Have any records survived that will help me discover who is in the photographs?

I have not yet found any photographers who kept records that would enable numbers to be matched with the names of the sitters.

Numbers were frequently added to the backs of  cartes de visite , cabinet prints, or postcards so that the purchaser could request further copies at a later date. 

However, the would not need to keep a record of names in order to make extra copies.  It would be sufficient for him to file his negatives in numerical order.

The negatives used for these photos in the late 19th century were glass, so they were heavy and bulky.  They were probably thrown out when the photogrpaher ran out of room to store them, or thought that further orders for reprints would be unlikely.




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