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The image, case, or brass holder can be damaged easily.

Once you have determined that your image is a 'dag', several clues can help establish a date range.

Most clues are evident by just looking at the image. This is not recommended for the amateur or skittish.

This material was called thermoplastic, as the mixture was heated and then formed in dies.

The cases themselves were called 'union cases', not in reference to the 'Union' side of the civil war, but the union of different materials that were used in the composite.

So it is important you understand the different pieces.

The daguerreotype was typically placed under a mat, which was covered with a piece of glass .

A few simple observations can help narrow the timeframe of an image.

Mats give us some wonderful clues as to a daguerreotype's (and ambrotype's) original date.

This complete package was then placed into a wooden or thermoplastic case for protection and presentation.

An exploded and assembled view of a ca 1850 daguerreotype.

Clothes, hair styles, and personal appearance changed significantly throughout the life of the daguerreotype.