When no postmark is available, the type of materials used can often aid in narrowing down the years it may have been produced in.
NOTE: There were many other photo papers manufactured in addition to those listed on this page, and even these could be made in different finishes from matte to glossy.
At least 450 different real photo postcard backs can be found but as of this time there is a lack of accurate information regarding all their dates of use, or they were used in very limited quantities.
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As time passes this silver tends to migrate to the surface of the print creating tell-tale metallic patches.
Observing this shiny crust, no mater what the color, is a quick and sure way of telling if you are looking at a real photo.
Though most of us today are familiar with the concept of photo grain, this is mostly because we have experienced very large prints made from small 35mm negatives.
But even here the effect is more of a softening of detail than a observable texture.
The tonalities of photos are completely continuous to the eye producing true greys, for they are created by the reaction of individual photosensitive molecules to light rather than the transfer of ink from a plate.