Photographic style: the
combination of the photographic print and the manner in which it is
section covers the major early styles relating to the paper photograph. The avid collector historian will
come across unusual examples not listed here.
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in various forms, were even more popular over one hundred years ago
than they are today. The above
picture shows a 19th century album designed for holding both cabinet
cards (right page) and cartes de visite (left page). The pages have pouches in which the
photographs are held, and oval holes to allow for viewing. The photographs can be inserted and
removed with ease. A similarly
designed album held tintypes.
The covers are often leather with ornate designs.
By the turn of the century family
studio photos and snapshots were often pasted or fastened to the pages.
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1863-1920. Popular use: 1870-1893
cabinet card is a positive photographic print measuring about 4" X
4-1/2" pasted to a
cardboard mount measuring about 4-1/2" X 6-1/2"
The cabinet card is essentially a
larger version of the carte de visite.
It received its name as it was popular to display the mounted
photographs in a cabinet. For
most of the 19th century, cabinet cards had albumen prints. These prints were later replaced by
the gelatin-silver prints. Most
examples past 1895 are gelatin-silver prints. Cabinet cards often have the
photography studio’s name and design on the front and/or back.
the Cabinet Card
Along with the subject in the photograph, the cabinet
style is helpful in giving an approximate date. The following is the general style
trends. Exceptions to these trends
will be found.
with albumen prints, usually, though not always, date before about
1895. Gelatin-silver printing
out prints were used from about 1895-1905. After 1905, the gelatin-silver
developing out print was usually used.
The earliest cabinet card mounts
were lightweight and light in color.
Often there was a thin red line around the edge. After 1880, various colors were used,
and the area below the image usually contained the photographer's
imprint. Cards with gold beveled
edges date to about 1885 to just after 1890. Maroon-faced cards were produced
during the 1880s, and cards from the 1890s often had scalloped or
notched edges which were imprinted with elaborate pattern on the back.
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This term applies to any
of several commercially formatted photographs pasted to cardboard
mounts. The most popular forms
were the cabinet card and the carte de visite, listed individually in
this chapter. The following
lists the most commonly found sizes/names made from the 19th
century until about 1906. These
sizes and names were commercial standards. Some of the more obscure examples,
including ones not listed here, were made up simply as a marketing
ploys (‘New for 1890—the boudoir card!’).
Cigarette card (such as Old Judge, Gypsy Queen) - 2-3/4 x2-3/4 in.; 7
x7cm (Some variations in size)
Stereovoiew card (aka stereograph, stereoscopic photo) - 3-1/2 x 7in.
to 5 x 7in.; 8.5/12.8 x 17.8 cm; 1850's-1920's. These are the ones with
identical pictures side by side.They had a 3-D effect when viewed
through a special viewer
de visite - 4 x 2-1/2in.; 10.2 x 6.3 cm; 1859-1900's
card - 4-1/4 x 5-1/4in.; 10.8 x 13.3 cm; 1880's (photograph is
circular).These were the first Kodak 'snapshots'
Boudoir - 5-1/2 x 8-1/2in.; 14 x 21.06 cm; 1890's-
card - 6-1/2 x 2.85in.; 16.5 x 7.3 cm
Cabinet card - 6-1/2 x 4-1/2in.; 16.5 x 11.4 cm; 1866-1900
Imperial (aka imperial cabinet card)- 7 x 10in.; 17.8 x 25.4 cm;
Promenade card - 7-1/2 x 4in.; 19 x 10.2 cm
* Paris card -
9-3/4 x 6-3/4in.; 24.8 x 17.1 cm
card - 13 x 7-1/2in.; 33 x 19 cm
1906, mounted photographs were still made and in a variety of sizes,
but there was no longer the standardization of sizes or names.
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1855-1905: Popular Use:
carte de visite (plural: cartes de visite) is a paper print measuring
about 2-1/2" by 3-1/2" pasted to a cardboard mount measuring
about 2-1/2" by 4."
Most cartes used albumen prints, though other processes were
used. By the 1890s, most cartes
had gelatin silver prints.
Cartes de visite (often nicknamed cartes
or CDVs) were introduced into popular production by the Frenchman
Disdere had devised a rotating camera which could produce eight
individual pictures on one negative.
After printing on albumen paper, the images were cut apart and
glued to print-sized mounts.
Carte de Visite is French for
'visiting print,' as this was a popular use of these small picture
prints. A man might pass out his
cartes to the friends, relatives and business associates he
visited. In the United
States, cartes became popular
at the beginning of the Civil War.
They were used for many purposes, including as identification
prints for soldiers and as family pictures. Cartes of popular subjects, such as
romantic locations or famous persons, were made commercially and could
be bought at local stores. Queen
Victoria and Abraham Lincoln were popular subjects. Collecting Cartes and putting them
into specially made albums was a popular hobby, and many of these
albums exist today.
The carte de visite also refers to a
sleeve used to hold tintypes (see Solid-type Photography). This tintype carte closely resembles
the cartes discussed here.
the Carte de Visite
with the subject, a dating tool is the style of the carte, as this
changed over time. The following
describes the general trends.
Exceptions to these trends will be found.
Albumen prints were regularly used until about 1895. Pre-Civil War cartes usually had the
albumen print pasted to a thin, plain white or cream colored mount with
square corners. For most of the
1860s, the style was similar except that there was
usually one or two gold or red lines imprinted around the border. After 1863 some cards were imprinted
with a representation of an oval picture frame into which the picture
in 1870 a thicker mount was used, and, after 1871, corners were
rounded. In 1873 many different
colored mounts were introduced.
By 1875 beveled edges trimmed with guilt were sometimes
used. By 1880, the card stock
was think and sturdy, and rich dark colors were common. The back of these cards contained the
photographer's logo, incorporated into an elaborate printed
design. In 1890, cards were
again made thicker and often had scalloped or fancy edges. Starting in the 1890s the
gelatin-silver prints replaced the albumen print.
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A composite print is a
photographic image made up of more than one image. There are different ways of doing
this. One way involves printing
two or more negatives, one after the other, on a sheet of paper. Another way is to cut out numerous
small pictures, paste them on a print or background, then photograph
the resulting montage.
This style of image could be applied
to many processes and styles, ranging from the postcard to the cabinet
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1870-1920. Popular use: 1895-1915
imperial cabinet card is a photographic print measuring about 7 inches
by 10 inches pasted to a larger mount.
It is a larger version of the cabinet card. Imperial cabinets
with albumen prints are rare, as it was difficult to make large albumen
prints. With the gelatin-silver
developing out processes is was easier make enlargements. Most imperial cabinet cards were
produced after the turn of the century.
The imperial cabinet card is different from the imperial
photograph, which describes Mathew Brady’s extremely large prints. It is also different than an imperial
carte de visite, which describes the smaller carte where the photograph
takes up an especially large amount of the space.
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panorama is a very large photograph or connected group of photographs
that show a long sweeping view.
Panoramas have been around since 1840, and over the years have
used nearly all the photographic processes.
earliest panoramas were made with a number of Daguerreotypes line up
side to side. Sometimes more than
ten Daguerreotypes were used, with each Daguerreotype showing a
different part of the overall view.
Starting in the 1860's, albumen panoramas were made in a similar
fashion, with several prints being lined up side by side. Near the end of the century, a
specially designed rotating camera was used, allowing a single long
photograph to be made. The
gelatin-silver processes were most often used here.
Panoramas, especially of historically
or artistically significant views, often are expensive. They are often the object of
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The tobacco card, or
tobacco insert, is a small photographic card inserted into packs of
cigarettes or other tobacco product.
The card consists of an albumen card, measuring about
1-1/2" by 2-1/2", pasted to a cardboard mount of equal size.
American tobacco companies promoted
their product by inserting small cards into the tobacco packs (actually
slide boxes). The cards depicted
many subjects, from actors to presidents to flowers to sports
stars. They also issued similar
size cards with colorful lithographed (non-photographic) designs. All are identified by company or
tobacco brand advertising. These
companies also issued cabinet cards as promotions, which are also
identified by advertising.
In the early 20th century, similar
size cards were issued by tobacco and candy companies, though all of
these cards used lithography instead of photographs.
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Duration: 1901 –
photo postcard is a postcard with an actual photographic image printed
on the back. Most prints are
gelatin-silver prints, though the cyanotype and other processes were
occasionally used. Real photo
postcards originated in 1901 and are still made today.
design of American postcards was regulated by U.S.
law. Below is a general
description of the vintage design of both real photo and non photo
Card Era (1901-1907) The use of the word "POST PRINT" was
granted by the government to private printers on December 24, 1901.
Earlier prints were called 'Private Mailing Prints.' Only the address was allowed to be
written on the back of the print.
A space was put on the front for messages. It was during this
time that the first real photo postcards were made.
Back Era (1907-1914)
Postcards with a divided back were permitted March 1, 1907. The
address to be written on the right side and the left side was for
writing messages. The images were 'full bleed,' meaning that they went
all the way to the edge of the print.
Many millions of prints were published in this era.
White Border Era
(1915-1930). Many postcards had white borders in this era. In general, the quality was inferior.
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stereograph was a form of entertainment long before television, radio
or motion pictures. It is
comprised of two mounted photographs that were taken by a special
camera. Each photograph was
taken at from lightly different angle, which gives a 3-dimensional
effect when viewed in a specially made viewer, called a stereoscope.
stereograph was invented in the early 1850's and existed until about
1930. It used many photographic
processes. The earliest examples
used Daguerreotypes. Starting
about 1860 albumen prints were used, replaced by gelatin-silver prints
by the turn of the century. Some
of the last examples used photolithography.
Stereographs were printed
commercially, and are plentiful in today’s market. A Victorian family would own a box
full of stereographs, each stereograph depicting various entertaining
subjects. Subjects included
famous and exotic places and interesting subjects.
Ambrotype, tintype and Calotype images usually date before 1860. Most stereoviews that have the image
imprinted directly on the mount, date after 1875. Most tissue stereographs, mounted in
cardboard frames date from 1865-1875, though some date earlier. A tissue stereoview has an albumen
print, where the back of the print has been painted. This gives the image color when
viewed when light is shined through.
A tissue was attached to the back to help diffuse the light, and
the print and tissue were sandwiched between a cardboard frame.
Albumen stereoviews were produced from
the 1860s to around 1900. They
are dated by the change in mount.
The earliest mounts were lightweight, flat and with square
corners. They were usually
white, pale gray, cream or white.
Starting in the later 1860s a heavier mount with rounded corners
was used. The color was pale
yellow, changing to bright yellow or orange in the 1870s. From the late 1870s on, mounts were
warped to help facilitate the 3-D effect.
Starting in the 1890s many stereoviews had lithographed
images. In the 1890s the
photographs were usually gelatin-silver photographs. The mounts were usually heavy and
colored dark grey or black. The
mounts were still warped.
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vignette is a portrait whose central image dissolves into the
surrounding background. The
shape is usually oval. This
design was used for both paper and solid-type images.