Dating cabinet card phtographs
If you would like to learn more about the process, or even try it yourself, see the book Primitive Photography: A Guide to Making Cameras, Lenses, and Calotypes by Alan Greene.
AMBROTYPE The Ambrotype is essentially a glass negative with a black background that makes the image appear positive. Invented about 1854, the form lost popularity in the early 1860's when tintypes and CDV's replaced them. There are some wonderful ambrotype portraits still in existence, yet the process is much neglected by authors.
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The thin photographs, usually albumin prints, were generally mounted on cardboard measuring approximately 4¼ by 6½ inches.
Due to the progress in photographical technique it became the preferred portrait photograph format from the 1880s on and replaced the Carte de Visite.
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However, the wizard will usually date your photograph to within a period of 9 years, and often more closely than that.