The question is, is it an original?
Genealogy and preserving photos is not a new skill. The chances are somewhere in the family collection of old photos there are some that look a little smoother and shinier than the other, they still look old but just not as wrinkled.
Take a look at these carefully, can you see the scratches and creases, fold marks and tears but is the photo perfectly smooth? If so it is more likely to be a copy of an original. Unfortunately, if this copy was made a while back when scanning technology was not so good, it may have been scanned with a first generation scanner and printed in a high street lab when photo labs were numerous, around the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s. The chances are the tonal range within the reprint has changed dramatically from the original.
If you can turn the photo over, on the back may be printed “Fuji” or “Agfa” or “Kodak” in a faded font but clear as day, the paper itself is kind of plastic and not really papery at all. Very old photos were printed on paper made from pulp, made up of many layers of fibres, plastic papers just don’t have these and should be easy to spot.
In scanning the tones would have been averaged by the scanner and then when reprinting, the machines would have averaged again and much of the mid tones would have been lost. When it comes to making a restoration of this for the third time around, bringing out the details and enhancing the photo and making the restoration, is going to be somewhat disappointing, than if it were direct from the original. The mid tones are what helps create shape and form to objects, the subtle shadows on someones face, without these, the photo will be just black and white and be very contrasty with little detail.
Lessons to learn here are, make sure that if you do end up making copies of old photos, make sure you still keep the original, no matter what state it is in! If you have to make a copy try to get it done professionally to ensure the maximum tonal range available, to allow for the best detail and best future photo restoration.