Identifying Albumen vs Silver Gelatin Prints

Discussion in 'Ephemera and Photographs' started by Jerry Coker, May 18, 2024.

  1. Jerry Coker

    Jerry Coker Active Member

    Hello, I'm struggling identifying albumen vs silver gelatin prints, plus other post 19th century prints. Thanks to the folks here I feel pretty comfortable with identifying Dags, Ambros, CDV's & Tintypes. I guess I need to now find a resource similar to phototree, a website that helps me identify photos made from around the 1890's to 1940's. Most Google searches just tell me about the photo making processes, not how to identify the photo in hand, like by feel/touch, size, and visually. If anyone has some suggestions, feel free to enlighten me. Below are a few photos from a recent family album purchase. I'm pretty sure most of these photos are albumen. They measure 3.5x3.25", they have a shiny gloss, they are very thin, they appear similar to the photos pasted on CDV & cabinet cards, but they are not on card stock, but are inside a photo album, the album has a copyright of 1896, and a few photos appear to be from a President McKinley rally/event, I believe in or near Los Angeles, and McKinley was President from 1897-1901. I'm pretty sure the family in most of these photos lived in or near LA at the time. But there are also a few photos that are the same size (3.5x3.25"), are not glossy, there content appears to be from around same time period, and when you tilt the photo it has a silver sheen in some areas when looked at from an angle. So I think they are silver gelatin? The photo of the people in the car shows the silver like sheen. The photo of the railroad track is glossy. The last 2 photos are glossy, and appear to be from a McKinley event. Thank you.

    IMG_3559 25 percent.jpg IMG_3551 25 percent.jpg IMG_3553 25 percent.jpg IMG_3554 25 percent.jpg
    IMG_3535 25 percent.jpg IMG_3540 25 percent.jpg
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  2. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

  3. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    One of the most diagnostic features of albumen prints is the very thin paper they are on. The process of making the photographic paper involved floating the paper on a bath of egg whites, so it had to be very thin and light. Because of this, the prints are almost always mounted on a heavier card stock for support. They tend to be yellow to reddish in color, due partly to the way the albumen ages. They also often have a fine crackle texture on the surface.

    Here is an article that includes more information about their structure and identification -
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  4. evelyb30

    evelyb30 Well-Known Member

    Silver gelatin prints tend to have that silvery sheen, viewed at an angle.
  5. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    The Graphics Atlas goes into a great deal of detail about identification of all sorts of prints (they even include magnification). The site has been around for quite a while now, but the features have not changed. I used to use it often.

    List of types of prints here:

    Home page of the site here:

    You can also use the Compare tab to select two types of prints to compare.
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  6. bosko69

    bosko69 Well-Known Member

    Fig T-Graphic Atlas' a killer site.I also got a bunch of assoc vid links (u-tube) that were good.
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  7. Roaring20s

    Roaring20s Well-Known Member

    I pulled this from the internet and edited it a bit.

    On May 8, 1901, the McKinleys became the first President and First Lady to visit California. Their train arrived at Redlands, CA, where the President spoke and shook hands. The journey proceeded on to Ontario, California and Alhambra. Later that day, the Presidential couple arrived at Los Angeles, with their train entering at Chinatown. The McKinleys remained in Los Angeles for two days, then proceeded on the train northward. They made stops at Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo, where the President made speeches and shook hands with those in attendance. The train then made an unscheduled stop at a small railroad station called Surf, which was outside Santa Cruz. McKinley delivered a speech at Monterrey. The McKinleys arrived in San Francisco on May 12, 1901. On May 18, 1901, William McKinley went to Oakland to launch the battleship Ohio. The President was able to re-schedule some of the appearances he had missed due to Ida’s illness. These rescheduled events took place between May 19 and May 24, 1901. This included speeches and appearances in and around the San Francisco area. On Friday May 25, 1901, the President, Mrs. McKinley, and their staff began the train trip returning them to Washington, DC.
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  8. Roaring20s

    Roaring20s Well-Known Member

    Last edited: May 19, 2024
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  9. Jerry Coker

    Jerry Coker Active Member

    Thanks for all the replies, and links, particularly the Graphics Arts website link, just what I was looking for! Seems like most of my Google searches these days render pages of their advertisers products, which is great when I want to buy or sell something, but not a lot of use when wanting an historical reference. Anyway, I too saw the Chauvin business/building on the parade route. I'm too pretty sure part of the family lived on Arapahoe St. in LA. So the parade and other things seem to suggest that some family lived in LA. There are also some photos of mountains, desert, some in Tahoe, Yosemite, hunting/fishing, and oil wells being built/maintained. Southern CA was a different place around 1900, for sure! BTW, I never knew that the albumen photos found on CDV's/cabinets/stereoviews were also sometimes used in family albums. They are so thin!
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