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Tintypes This inexpensive photo process was similar to the Ambrotype, but instead of using a glass plate, the tintype image was processed on a thin sheet of blackened iron – not tin.

The name might come from the fact that tin shears were used to cut the iron plate.

The elder man is wearing a collarless shirt — too bad, because it's easier to date men's collars and neckties.

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In any kind of portrait it is often the subject's clothing that engages us most: fashion history is a fascinating topic and recognising the modes of different eras is an invaluable tool when trying to date unlabelled photographs.

Consulting experts such as Maureen Taylor, whose website includes a blog and provides teleseminars, are also a good resource.

In my photo, both men are wearing loose-fitting jackets with wide lapels.

Two young men stare out at me from a small old photograph. A variety of websites offer tips and tools, and they have the great advantage of being able to provide visual aids.

On the back, in my grandmother's handwriting, is written "Grandpa King's brothers." At least I've got some information to work with, but I'm eager to learn more: When was the picture taken? Which two of my great-grandfather's brothers are these? Type of photograph To learn more about my mystery photo, I checked examples of photos in the collections of Andrew J. Both websites detail the history of photography, including samples of various types of photography, such as daguerreotype, cabinet card and tintype.

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