History[ edit ] A photograph of a wedding party probably from the late s to s. Note the black or dark-colored wedding dress, which was common during the early to midth century. The carte de visite was displaced by the larger cabinet card in the s. In the early s, both types of photographs were essentially the same in process and design. However, later into its popularity, other types of papers began to replace the albumen process. Despite the similarity, the cabinet card format was initially used for landscape views before it was adopted for portraiture.
Some cabinet card images from the s have the appearance of a black-and-white photograph in contrast to the distinctive sepia toning notable in the albumen print process. These photographs have a neutral image tone and were most likely produced on a matte collodion , gelatin or gelatin bromide paper. Sometimes images from this period can be identified by a greenish cast. Gelatin papers were introduced in the s and started gaining acceptance in the s and s as the gelatin bromide papers became popular.
Matte collodion was used in the same period. A true black-and-white image on a cabinet card is likely to have been produced in the s or after The last cabinet cards were produced in the s, even as late as Owing to the larger image size, the cabinet card steadily increased in popularity during the second half of the s and into the s, replacing the carte de visite as the most popular form of portraiture.
The cabinet card was large enough to be easily viewed from across the room when typically displayed on a cabinet, which is probably why they became known as such in the vernacular.
However, when the renowned Civil War photographer Mathew Brady first started offering them to his clientele towards the end of , he used the trademark "Imperial Carte-de-Visite. The reverse side of the card as seen above. Early in its introduction, the cabinet card ushered in the temporary disuse of the photographic album which had come into existence commercially with the carte de visite. Photographers began employing artists to retouch photographs by altering the negative before making the print to hide facial defects revealed by the new format.
Small stands and photograph frames for the table top replaced the heavy photograph album. Photo album manufacturers responded by producing albums with pages primarily for cabinet cards with a few pages in the back reserved for the old family carte de visite prints.
For nearly three decades after the s, the commercial portraiture industry was dominated by the carte de visite and cabinet card formats. In the decade before , the number and variety of card photograph styles expanded in response to declining sales. Manufactures of standardized card stock and print materials hoped to stimulate sales and retain public interest in card photographs.
However, as with all technological innovations, the public increasingly demanded outdoor and candid photographs with enlarged prints which they could frame or smaller unmounted snapshots they could collect in scrapbooks.
Owing in part to the immense popularity of the affordable Kodak Box Brownie camera, first introduced in , the public increasingly began taking their own photographs, and thus the popularity of the cabinet card declined. First used for horizontal views, then eventually adapted for portraits.
Although not uncommon in the s, the cabinet card did not displace the carte de visite completely until the s. As snapshot and personal photography became commonplace among the public, the popularity of the cabinet card and cabinet card specific albums waned.
Unmounted paper prints and the scrapbook albums started replacing them. A variety of other large card styles of various names and dimensions came about for professional portraits in the s and s. After , card photographs generally had a much larger area surrounding the print quite often with an embossed frame around the image on heavy, gray card stock.
The cabinet card still had a place in public consumption and continued to be produced until the early s and quite a bit longer in Europe. The last cabinet cards were produced in the s. The type of card stock or whether it had right-angled or rounded corners can often help to determine the date of the photograph to as close as five years. Large, ornate text for photographer name and address, especially in cursive style. Studio name often takes up the entire back of the card. Late s—90s Gold text on black card stock s on: