Home » Antiquing » Why do I collect old photos?

Why do I collect old photos?

Well, first of all I must say a big THANK YOU to my #100 follower! I thought it would take longer than it did. I have some ideas for what my giveaway will be, but I don’t have it put together yet. Give me a few days and I will start my #100 Giveaway!

Okay on to my original reason for being here today…

The following comment was on one of my posts this week. It came from Retired Knitter at My Next 20 Years of Living who, by the way, has recently written some wonderful posts about being a caregiver/loving daughter for her mother. I enjoy everything she writes, but those were very touching and real. Here’s her comment:

What an interesting time. I would love to hear how you pick antique pictures to purchase. There are so many on the market. How do you pick one to buy? What is a reasonable price, how to do store/display your collection at home? Why are some pictures priced more than others? Do they have identifying information on the back? That sort of stuff. Guess you can tell, I am very interested in pictures, especially of family, but old pictures are really very interesting because they show a snap shot of some small minute in life and you can learn alot if you check them carefully. I bet you have a lot to share on that subject. 

So, I decided that I would talk about my collection of antique photos and just why I started collecting them.


I think that I mentioned, in passing, in an earlier post that when Jim accompanied me on my trip to LauraPalooza last year I gave him the whole return trip home…meaning he could choose whatever he wanted to do for the whole drive home. One thing that he chose was stopping at any antique store that we happened upon. Jim has collected antiques since he was a kid so it’s always been something he enjoys. For some reason though, it wasn’t something that we did together. I collected, but mostly books in the past and more recently I’ve been a peruser of ebay. So, antiquing together? That was a whole new thing. And we found that we really enjoyed it. I had recently decided to begin a collection of items that have been mentioned in the Little House books. This has since evolved into things that were used in (mostly) that time period. So when Jim and I stopped at our first antique store together, I had some ideas of what I would look for.

Antique photos weren’t on my “list”, but they did catch my eye.

I spotted a box full of photos displayed on a shelf at the very first store we stopped at and, on a whim, started looking through them. Then, I thought I might buy a few. Almost immediately I decided that I wanted to collect them. Why?

First of all and most importantly, they were someone’s family, someone’s great great grandmother or aunt (you get the idea) and here they are sitting in a store with a $2 or $3 price marked on them. No one knows who they are anymore, unless you come across one with a name written on the back. I wanted to take them and give them a home.

Second, they’re a good thing to collect. They don’t take up a whole lot of room.

Third. They’re usually fairly inexpensive. The most I’ve paid was about $8 and that was for a tintype. I’ve got a couple of those. Usually I pay between $1 and $4, but would be willing to pay a little more depending on the subject matter.

I have only been collecting since July of 2010 so I’m fairly new at this. I know that there are different types of photos depending on the era and, as I mentioned, I do have a couple of tintypes. I need to study up on this now!  Here is a good explanation of the different types of antique photos.

I knew that I had to narrow down what I was looking for or else things would get out of hand 🙂 quickly. So, I decided that I would just collect children or families. I loved babies in long white gowns. Now, I look at what else is in the photo. I love it when there’s an animal or two, maybe a pet. I’m looking for if the child in the photo is holding something. I love to look at what they’re wearing. I’ve even begun to be a little less picky and have picked up some that are more recent (as in ’40s and newer) if there’s something unique about them. I love it when they have a name/age/year written on the back, but it doesn’t happen very often. Quite often the photographer information is on it so at least I know where it comes from.

This is one of the first photos that I picked up.

I bought a display stand that I could set several photos in and you could just look through them. This sits on my fireplace mantle. Jim is supposed to make me something to display them with, but we haven’t really come up with a good idea yet. Plus, I have now gotten just enough so that they don’t all fit in the stand.

To be honest though, it all boils down to just picking up photos that I like…the ones that feel like they should belong to me!

My new goal is to find a Christmas photo. I’ve not seen one yet, but that’s what a collection is all about. If you found everything you were looking for right away, you would lose the fun of collecting! Besides, I can always find other interesting photos along the way.


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22 thoughts on “Why do I collect old photos?

  1. A wonderful collection. I myself like old photos and have quite a lot of my own family passed down from generation to generation. Old photos to me tell the story and history of the photo and I love history . Papa and I love antiquing and have done for years. Great post and photo. Have a wonderful day !

  2. A wonderful collection. I myself like old photos and have quite a lot of my own family passed down from generation to generation. Old photos to me tell the story and history of the photo and I love history . Papa and I love antiquing and have done for years. Great post and photo. Have a wonderful day !

  3. Thank you so much for doing this post. I have to say that I find the idea of collecting this very appealing. Not too big, not too expensive, a careful looking into the past and as you mentioned, they are someone's family and they deserve a home. But you are also correct that focusing your search makes sense.Right now I have about 15 years of my own family pictures in the basement and they need my attention. But I am considering this hobby. Keep posting your pictures. I really enjoy looking at them.

  4. Thank you so much for doing this post. I have to say that I find the idea of collecting this very appealing. Not too big, not too expensive, a careful looking into the past and as you mentioned, they are someone's family and they deserve a home. But you are also correct that focusing your search makes sense.Right now I have about 15 years of my own family pictures in the basement and they need my attention. But I am considering this hobby. Keep posting your pictures. I really enjoy looking at them.

  5. I have a SMALL collection of photographs I have picked up at antique shops. My favorite is an unidentified man in uniform. Such a handsome man and I've always wondered what happened to him that his photograph ended up at a Wisconsin antique store. I have been on a search to find his a wife & children as well. Thank you for the great posts!

  6. I have a SMALL collection of photographs I have picked up at antique shops. My favorite is an unidentified man in uniform. Such a handsome man and I've always wondered what happened to him that his photograph ended up at a Wisconsin antique store. I have been on a search to find his a wife & children as well. Thank you for the great posts!

  7. You have a wonderful collection. I once had a collection of 45 and 30 records until I got robbed one day. I'd saved records from the time I was about 10 years old.

  8. You have a wonderful collection. I once had a collection of 45 and 30 records until I got robbed one day. I'd saved records from the time I was about 10 years old.

  9. Congratulations on your one hundredth follower – well done!You always have interesting posts – that's what draws in the followers.Todays is no exception – what an interesting hobby…and as you say, half the fun is in the looking!Good luck finding a Christmas photo…I might rummage through my "old family photos" and see if I can find one for you! I remember pictures being in black and white and looking quite old!Cheers, JennyPEARSON REPORT

  10. Congratulations on your one hundredth follower – well done!You always have interesting posts – that's what draws in the followers.Todays is no exception – what an interesting hobby…and as you say, half the fun is in the looking!Good luck finding a Christmas photo…I might rummage through my "old family photos" and see if I can find one for you! I remember pictures being in black and white and looking quite old!Cheers, JennyPEARSON REPORT

  11. Fun collection….I'm going antique hunting this weekend so if I find something I'll send it along – this is a great type of collection.I need more sntiques like a hole in the head so shopping for you will be more fun.I've never seen a Christmas photo.Enjoy your weekend – congrats on breaking 100 – now you can add another follower with me:-)

  12. Fun collection….I'm going antique hunting this weekend so if I find something I'll send it along – this is a great type of collection.I need more sntiques like a hole in the head so shopping for you will be more fun.I've never seen a Christmas photo.Enjoy your weekend – congrats on breaking 100 – now you can add another follower with me:-)

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