Can you date this picture: answer...

Thank you for your responses - the picture was taken in January 2024 by Donald Lush. As many of you noted, the large version clearly shows a Monsoon sign, a mobile phone and a 3-wheeled buggy, although, as Von pointed out “…at a glance it could be a 1940’s foggy market place”.

This is what Donald said:

“I like to mess about with old USSR cameras and I develop my own black and white film. I’ve tried to adapt my developing techniques to get this low contrast, 1930’s look. It was one of those moments when everything was saying “take this, it will look like an old photo”"


Finally, for those of you who enjoyed dating the picture, here are three more for you to figure out. Post your answers below:

12 comments to Can you date this picture: answer…

  • jufjo

    19th century… or last year :)

  • Chris

    You’re right, Jo - and which is which…?

  • Paul Barnfather


    First glance, left-to-right says “new”, “old”, “old”. Not sure at all about the last one…

  • Grahame Miller

    No 1 is fake, but a fairly creditable attempt at 1850s (particularly in the smooth hairstyle). But the gradations between the high-definition face and more blurred hands would have been beyond a mid-19th-century camera. The off-shoulder neckline would have been acceptable for evening wear but not in a day dress, and neither would in any case sport the fussy all-over pattern shown here. The lady also appears to be uncorseted (tsk, tsk) - and is she wearing lipstick?
    No 2 is harder, but I suspect also fake (attempt at 1860s?). The surface looks artificially distressed, the facial expression has a fleeting snapshot quality incompatible with the long exposures of the time, something about the hair and whiskers just isn’t quite right - and is that an earring in the right ear?
    If no 3 is fake, it’s the best of the three. The overall look of the photograph is convincing and the cut of the dress is immaculate early-to-mid 1860s, although the tipped-back bonnet suggests a few years earlier (bonnets in studio portraits are a bit unusual) - and I wonder about the smirk.

    Go on, tell me…

  • Chris

    Thanks Paul. Lets see what others have to say…

  • Chris

    This is a great response, Grahame. And I will tell you - only not yet…

  • Melissa Donaghue

    Thanks to Grahame Miller for writing everything I had to say about these, for me! The focus on “girl 2’s” face is what gives this one away; way too sharp.

  • Anne Hill Fernie

    Woman one just has that glossy, corn-fed look about her and her eyebrows are plucked! The posture of the bloke & the strange angle of the camera just doesn’t ring true for the 2nd one (although I might be wrong. The third one is quite tricky and looks pretty authentic to me…….

  • Steffi

    there is something authentic about the pose of the woman far left, the way she holds herself- especially the hands, the placement of some books and her gloomy slightly absent look.
    The man is difficult to say; it could be just a cropped version of the original or done by a photographer who liked to try sth different. His coloured in cheeks are cute … a lot of the discolouring could have happened when digitising and trying to recover the photo but looks photoshoped. I think he is a fake.
    I’d say the girl is a fake too. I feel her picture being taken is too casual an affair. And the contrast too dense. But unlike Grahame, I believe she wears a corset.

  • Chris

    Thanks for your great responses. Here are the answers:

    1. Genuine

    “Unidentified woman, half length portrait, seated with arm on table.”
    Sixth-plate daguerreotype by James Presley Ball. Cincinnati circa 1850s. In the collection of the Library of Congress.

    2. Genuine

    This is Benjamin Dyer - M.Dyer’s grandfather’s great-grandfather:

    “Benjamin was from Durham, Androscogin, Maine. He was born in 1819 and went on the California Gold Rush sometime around 1850. He wore two gold earrings - the family story is that he found gold, but one day woke up and his partner was gone along with the gold.”

    3. Fake

    This is “DJ” photographed by Robert Szabo on 12th November 2024.

  • Paul Barnfather

    Wow, seems we were all fooled by #1.
    Everything about it looks modern: the face, the hair, the cut and pattern of the dress, the sharp focus. What an incredible photo!

    Interesting that #3 is fake. There is something odd it, I just can’t put my finger on it…

  • Grahame Miller

    Great stuff!!! I laughed out loud at being proved wrong, not once but three times. Any more such puzzles in the pipeline? I love ‘em.

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