Course Overview and Information


1906 gelatin-silver cabinet card of Maxim Gorky and his wife by Maxim Mishkin
1906 gelatin-silver cabinet card of Maxim Gorky and his wife by Maxim Mishkin

This site is an online introductory art history course in identifying, dating and authenticating photographs, and is designed and conducted by Center for Artifact Studies. The course covers all types and from all eras, from 1880s daguerreotypes to 1990s fashion photos, cabinet cards to Polaroids.  It gives a basic introductory survey of photograph identification for the art history student, collector, dealer or photography enthusiast.

The website is ordered as 15 assignments (#1-#14– they were posted on the main page in chronological order, so #1 is at the very bottom of the main page), with readings from the standard textbook Judging the Authenticity of Photographs (5th Edition) by David Cycleback.  The book can be purchased in paperback version at amazon  It can also be download for free in pdf version here.  In addition to the book readings, each assignment/post will include further notes, links, photos, videos, quiz and homework questions.   The homework questions are included in each assignment post.

This is an online/distance course and you can take it at your own pace.  If you wish to receive credit for doing and passing the course, send your answers to assignment homework questions, final test question to along with a $35 grading fee via paypal to that address.  If the answers are judge good enough you will receive email confirmation that you have finished and passed the course.

The list of homework questions and final quiz questions can be downloaded homework (pdf format).

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email at cycleback

Thank you and best wishes,

David : Center for Artifact Studies


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Index of Assignments

Assignment #1 : Introductory Reading

Assignment #2: Albumen Prints

Assignment #3: Gelatin Silver Prints

Assignment #4: Daguerreotypes, tintypes, ambrotypes and other ‘hard’ early photos

Assignment #5: Stamps and Tags

Assignment #6: Color Photographs

Assignment #7: Real Photo Postcards

Assignment #8: Antique Mounted and Card Photographs

Assignment #9: News Photos and Press Photos

Assignment #10: More News Photos

Assignment #11: Provenance

Assignment #12: Other Antique Paper Photo Processes

Assignment #13: Modern Photomechanical and Digital Processes

Assignment #14: Making Final Identification Judgments

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