When you begin to collect photographic images, you start to note the changes in fashion through the years. Women's fashions provide all sorts of clues for dating old photographs. Men's fashions, not so much. I thought perhaps there might be a clue in the style of our subject's facial hair, but alas, men could wear a variety of moustache and hair styles throughout the later part of the 19th century. In this example, the hints come mostly from the photograph itself.
Cabinet card photographs, such as this one, were most popular from the 1870s and on through to the late 1890s. Scalloped edges became a popular feature of cabinet cards around 1890. The addition of ornamental features such as the scroll and flowers you see on this photograph also developed in the 1890s. Beyond that, I'm not able to guess the date of this photo with any accuracy.
Silvester Babcock, or someone wanting to identify it, graciously inscribed this decorative cabinet card for us. It was taken at the J. Jennings studio in Scandia, Kansas. Unfortunately, the fact that Mr. Babcock had a photograph taken in Scandia, KS doesn't mean that he lived in or near the place. It just means that he was there long enough to sit for a photograph. A search of the census shows numerous Silvester/Sylvester Babcocks in Kansas and nearby states. We might get lucky and find a Babcock researcher with a photograph to compare this with, but I'm afraid this is one of my "long-shot" photographs.