Based on its size and composition, I confirmed that my picture was a tintype, a photographic technique that came into use in the mid-1850s and lasted until the turn of the century. But it does help me rule out a pairing of Michael and Timothy.
Knowing the type of photo can still leave a large time period, but if you know the subject of the photo, your genealogical research should be able to help you narrow that. I now turn to fashion to see if what these men are wearing can help me narrow the date range of the photo.
The jackets seem to indicate a photo taken in the 1870s, but I'm still not certain. I knew from my earlier research that all three of my great-grandfather's brothers eventually wound up farming in Kansas, after stops in Washington, D. Louis than a small town in Kansas that wasn't organized until 1871.
In the early 1870s, Michael would have been in his twenties and Peter in his teens and both were living in St. Timothy would have been too young to be either brother.
Enter a photo type into its search engine and you will see many examples that may turn out to be similar to the photograph you are researching. Both the men in my photo are young, but one appears to be older than the other, and he has arm slung around his younger brother's shoulders. The elder is wearing a watch chain and a pinky ring. Michael was seven years older than Peter, who was seven years older than Timothy.
You may not think to look on the Internet for help in dating old photographs, but actually it's the best place to go.
See also: Safely store, display your old family photographs.
There were several photo techniques used in the mid- and late-1800s, some of the most common include: Daguerreotypes This first successful photo process is attributed to Louis Daguerre.
The image is on a silver clad copper sheet which was then sealed inside a wooden case or a frame under glass to protect it.