Monday, June 10, 2013

The Rise of Black-and-White and Color Photography
Karen Utter Jennings

After the turn of the twentieth century, the art of photography grew steadily. George Eastman founded the new age of photography with black-and-white snapshots. Brownie box cameras were easy to use and cheap to buy. It was the beginning of a new way for people to try their hand at taking photographs. In 1900, a quarter of a million Kodak Brownie cameras sold for one dollar each.

With the simple cameras in the hands of more people, photography studios and
travelling photographers had competition. Autochrome photographs were taken from 1904 to the late 1930s and these are identified by their shades of gray and sepia tones. They may appear to be faded and hard to identify backgrounds and details. Use care when handling these old photos.

During the early years color photography remained a commercial undertaking for trained photographers only. Color paper prints were produced from 1941 to the present. The Kodak Company introduced Kodachrome 16mm movie film in 1935 and negative film became available from Kodak in 1941. Eventually, Polaroids were popular due to the ability to snap a photo and wait while it developed inside the camera.

From 1948 to about 1965, many early cameras were used with roll film. The different types of film produced different sizes of photos. Many of those types of film were discontinued in the last few years.

As the years passed and we entered the twenty-first century, photography continues to be a popular and special hobby as well as a profitable business. Digital photography is one of the most-loved ways to take family photographs.

Today’s cameras are high-tech devices offering multiple advanced features that guarantee amateurs a perfect photograph. Photographers can do it all: preview the shots as you go and discard the bad ones, shoot an endless number of pictures then save and store them on small SD cards, then upload to computers and print your prized possessions.  

The old black-and-white and color photographs are the basis of family photograph collections. Since these prints often fade in time, the best way to preserve them before they do fade is to scan all your photographs to media storage and then keep the originals in a cool, dark and low-humidity environment.

Storage of photos includes websites where you can upload all your photographs and retrieve copies of them whenever you need to do so. There are multiple online websites to help you create photo books, also.

Many times family researchers digitize their photographs and put them on media such as CDs and flash drives and camera cards to share with family members. This is the new era
In many family photograph collections, there are torn, faded, cracked and worn pictures. Besides taking your photos to a specialist who can restore them to their original likeness, there are scores of computer software you can purchase to help you do it yourself. Adobe Photoshop Elements is one of them. There are other programs you can purchase as downloads or buy the program and place it on your computer yourself. Do your research; talk with people who own such software before you make your decision. They can be pricey.

The old black-and-white and color photographs are the bulk of my own family photograph collection. They are dear to my heart. In many of them I can identify everyone in the photograph, and date the time and place it was taken.

I caution you about using the date stamped at the bottom or the side of the photograph. It does not always mean that is when the photograph was taken; it only dates when the film was developed. Many people waited, sometimes for years, before they took their film rolls in to be developed.

Go through your own photograph collection and begin sorting, labeling, and organizing them. You will be happy you did!

The History of Real Photo Postcards

The History of Real Photo Postcards
Karen Utter Jennings

Postcards have been around since 1861 and there are several different types. Vintage postcards are highly collected by fans. Those who study and collect postcards, known as deltiologists, are serious about their collections. Libraries, historical and genealogical societies, and other organizations as well as private individuals collect them. Postcards can be purchased from online dealers as well as flea markets and antique stores and from private collections.
For our purposes, we will talk about real photograph postcards or RPs. Around 1900, photography had grown into a popular hobby for many people and the latest craze was sending a postcard with a photograph printed on the back. These are called real photograph postcards; the word “real” was used to explain that the postcard started as a photographic negative. They were reproduced by developing them onto photographic paper the size and weight of postcards with a postcard backing. 

In the beginning, postal service regulations required there be no writing on the address side of the postcards. In 1907, the regulations changed so that the postcards had a dividing line where the address could be written on the right side and a message wrote on the left side. This is called the divided back era.

From about 1915 to 1930, to save ink, most postcards were printed with a white border, also called “White Border Postcards.” After 1930, the new printing processes used colored ink and a high rag substance that gave a linen-like finish to the photographs. This process, called the Linen Era lasted until about 1944.

After 1944, known as the Photochrome Era, real photographic postcards declined and gave way to the postcards that we know today as the tourist-type cards we send while on vacation.

If you own real photo postcards with no way to date them, here is a brief guide to follow. This information does not include everything there is to know about identifying and dating them.  
First, check the price of the stamp in the stamp box on the card. Postal rates steadily rose over the years. The stamp price for mailing cards between 1898 and 1917 was one cent. It rose to two cents from 1917 to 1958. From 1958 to 1962, it cost three cents and from 1963 to 1967 postage rose to four cents. During 1968 to May 1971, the cost rose to a nickel.

If your photo postcard has no stamp attached, check the border around the stamp box on the postcard. If the postcards were produced on Kodak paper, known as “AZO,” they had special borders during special years. From 1904 to 1918, some borders had four triangles pointing up. From 1907 to 1909, the stamp box border had diamonds in the corners. During 1918 to 1930, some borders had two triangles pointing up and two pointing down. During 1922 through 1926, borders might have empty corners. Finally, in 1926 through the 1940s, the stamp box borders had squares in the corners.

Please note that there were other papers used to produce real photo postcards, but I reporting about using the most popular, AZO. has a large photograph collection on their website. They offer real photograph postcards of people, hometowns, cities, homes, historical places, and businesses. There are over 200,000 in the collection as of this writing.

If you are interested in learning more about real photograph postcards, there is tons of information on the internet about societies and associations dealing with postcards of all subjects. Dealers are constantly on the hunt for collectibles.

To write this column, I used several interesting internet websites as well as the book,
“Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs,” by Maureen A. Taylor. (Cincinnati, OH: F&W Publications, 2005).

Book Basket Review: Stealing the Preacher

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer has a unique plot and characters that will "steal" readers' hearts from the first few pages....

When a preacher is kidnapped from a train that is taking him to his new congregation, he soon realizes that God's plans are not his plans. Neither was falling in love with the outlaw's daughter.  But there's trouble brewing and the past catches up to many of the characters. Can the parson help or hinder his new congregation and the friends he has made? Does the parson want to give his heart to beautiful Joanna, but more importantly, will she accept his love since her father is the kidnapper and an outlaw? 

Writing with her well-known wit and humor, Karen Witemeyer has another smash hit with this historical inspirational romance. ~Karen Utter Jennings