Re: Question about “17th century” photographs #photographs

Ava (Sherlock) Cohn

Your question is a bit complicated since we cannot see the actual "portrait photographs" you are referring to. Though photography was invented in 1826, portraits of individuals were not commonly taken until 1839. So the earliest possible photographic images of people were of those born in the mid to late 1700s. Of course, painted images have existed for a long time before that. When photography was in its early stages, often daguerrotypes were taken of those previously painted images. As the years went on these daguerreotypes were re-photographed and developed onto paper prints. My inclination would be to approach your situation first with trust that the person who had these "portrait photographs" could be correct. Only by examining them,  determining on what media the images exist and what the dates of the original images are based on clothing and other clues, can you determine if these are photographs of painted images and the person who posted them is correct or misguided. I have a presentation that I recorded for last year's IAJGS Conference that explains the early photographic images. The presentation is free. Contact me if you'd like a copy.

Ava (Sherlock) Cohn
North Barrington, IL

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