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How do you tell if a photo is original?
Old 01-30-2004, 10:37 AM   #1
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Default How do you tell if a photo is original?

Hi guys,

This might be an old question that has been asked a hundred times but I could not find it by searching the forum. Is there really any way to determine if a photograph is original and WWII period printed. Obviously I mean the picture itself and not the subject matter.

1) It has been suggested to me that the pictures should all have a certain marking on the back (ie: Agfa-Brovira). However, out of my photo albums I have found many photos that have other markings or are not marked at all. Some of these albums are from guaranteed original groupings.

2) I have also been told to look at the finish itself. It should not be very glossy, perhaps more porrus, and should not retain fingerprints. Yet again I have photos in albums that fit this description as well as some that are glossy.

3) Lastly I've been told to check the pliability of the photo. Does it bend easily or does it begin to rinkle or crack with bending.

I appreciate all the suggestions that fellow forum members have given me in this area but I still don't know if these tests really finalize the answer of originality or not.

Lastly - what does originality really mean? Since many soldiers were serving out of the country, isn't it possible that many brought home rolls of film to be developed later? Perhaps this would explain why many albums have different types, textures, and qualities of photos of the same person in an album. And how would a particular makers mark determine the answer, did certain marks stop being used exactly as the war ended?

Thanks in advance for you thoughts.

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Original photos or not?
Old 01-30-2004, 10:56 AM   #2
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Default Original photos or not?

Hi John,

Basically you described it in a nutshell...many different markings or no markings at all on some photos and different types of finishes. Have you ever tried a blacklight....old paper doesn't light up like a christmas tree...although that again is no guarantee because some of the unscrupulous types have use old paper in the developing process. I believe the same processes were used up into the 50's. Additionally, Soldiers had photos developed in many other countries where they were stationed and many ex-soldiers didn't develop photos until their return after the war. Bill
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Old 01-30-2004, 11:47 AM   #3
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Hi john,
original photo paper comes unmarked as well as marked.It is nice to see pre war and wartime maker marks,but this is simply a bonus.
Examples of pre war and wartime papers are,
Gevaert ridax(belgian).and also just "ridax"
Agfa lupex(german)can be just seen as agfa,but agfa on its own is also postwar,
Agfa brovira(german)manufactured post war but known as afga brovira speed.
velox(unknown by me at this stage)

There are others but im going off memory .ill recheck my files.but unmarked paper is as original as marked.

As for photos being glossy,photos came in 4 finishes.Gloss,semi gloss,satin and flat.Some of the glosses are high gloss and it depends on the qaulity of paper.but certainly some originals had a very high level of gloss.
As for photos retaining finger prints,this has been a problem of photos since the very first one was taken.How much a photo retains a finger mark is dependent on many factors.How sweaty the hand is,the acidity level in the sweat and also the type of paper,High gloss photos show finger prints much more readily than flat finish photos.
Nothing to do with originality.
wether a photo wrinkl or cracks is dependant on storage.paper dries out and phots stored in dry environments will most certainly show adverse effects.
again nothing that instantly indicates originality.

A great percentage of third reich photos were developed post war.The developing techniques were the same up to the mid 50,s.Original paper was available through normal developing outlets upto the mid 50,s(untill stocks ran out.
A lot of soldiers couldnt get their photosdeveloped during the war>Due to location,cost and access to development shops during the war.
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Old 01-30-2004, 09:03 PM   #4
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Hi Keifer,

Would photo paper marked with one of the maker marks be considered a privately developed photo, as opposed to a Hoffmann or Verlag print?


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Old 01-31-2004, 12:36 AM   #5
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Makers of photographic paper provided paper to studio photographic companies/photographers as well as paper for the everyday person.
A makers name on the rear doesent indicate automatically a private photo.
For some reason the papers used in studio portraits/prints were normally unmarked with no paper makers name.In alot of cases studio portraits/prints had the studio or photographers embossed logo in one of the photos corners.
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