Ask Maureen: Postcard Help

Bridget wrote with following question:
I have a photo of my grandfather when he was between the ages of 5 and 11 in Dublin, Ireland. It is a postcard type, however, I was more curious about his clothing. How do I narrow down the time frame using his clothing? Apparently I have been doing this all wrong and I hit road block after road block.

Dear Bridget,
Before focusing on your grandfather’s clothing, turn over your postcard and look at the stamp box. Photographic postcards were first introduced in 1900. That little stamp box is full of clues. The design changes over time and can help you date the image. There is a handy little reference tool on the Playle’s Online Auction website. You can compare the design on the back of your postcard to the one’s in this database.

As for your doing it wrong, dating clothing is full of little details. Dating those outfits worn by kids is even harder. There are very few changes in boy’s clothing between the ages of 5 and 11. Boys wore full length trousers beginning around age 12 but before that age, it’s usually short pants.

Instead of focusing on the clothes think about how old your grandfather looks in the picture. 5 year old’s can still look very toddler-like with round faces, while by age 11 they look older.

Good luck with your image and keep trying!

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