Novelty Photographs - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Stamp Photograph

Image of Stamp Photograph

Portrait with ornate border and serrated edges, 1" x ¾". The border has 'Patented July 12 1885' printed on it. This patent refers to the Hyatt camera.

Very small images for mounting on cards, jewellery or in albums were popular from the 1880s. Generally produced a few years later, stamp photographs were very small prints having an elaborate border and serrated edges that resembled postage stamps. Cameras to produce these images were advertised for amateur use around 1900, accessories available included different borders and perforated printing paper. What one did with a postage stamp image is not clear, but not many have survived. Hyatt produced a postage stamp camera in the United States as early as 1887.

Stamp Photographs

Image of Stamp Photographs

A strip of three images and one other. Portraits with ornate border and serrated edges, 1" x ¾".

Stamp Photographs

Image of Stamp Photographs

A card with four stamp images of different people, possible date of 1895.

Button Photographs

Image of Button Photographs

  • ⅞" diameter tintype. Portrait of a man, crimped without mount.
  • 1" diameter image on paper under celluloid. Portrait of a woman, gilt mount.

These were popular in Britain during the Edwardian and First World War periods, often being produced at fairgrounds and seaside resorts. The images are either tintypes crimped to a frame often without a mount; a print on paper held loosely under celluloid or a print on paper bonded to a celluloid cover.


Image of No. 63, The Queen & Prince

No. 63, The Queen & Prince
. J.B. Dancer, Manchester. Initialed JBD.

Microphotographs are very small images of large objects mounted either on a microscope slide or as a Stanhope (images of very small objects photographed using a microscope are photomicrographs). John Benjamin Dancer pioneered the technique of producing microphotographs and produced many commercially available slides sold by microscope suppliers. At a meeting of the Manchester Photographic Society, Dancer claims to have produced his first slide in February 1852, most slides date from the later 1850s. Other photographers producing microphotographs were Alfred Rosling, and George Shadbolt, their initials are usually contained on the label attached to the slide. The wet collodion process, which was capable of rendering very fine detail, was used for early microphotographs.

References & Notes:
Photographic News 13/5/1859, pp. 116, 117. Gernsheim, History of Photography 2nd ed. p. 317. Cyclopedia, p. 357.

No. 28, The Creed
. J.B. Dancer, Manchester. Initialed JBD.

No. 28, The Creed
. J.B. Dancer, Manchester. Initialed JBD.

Madonna and Child
. Initialed JS (possibly John Stovin).

No. 106, Roslin Chapel

Image of No. 2, Hager & Ishmael, Baroccio

No. 2, Hager & Ishmael, Baroccio

No. 6, Triumph of David, Domenichino


Image of Stanhopes

  • Binoculars. One lens shows the Lord's Prayer, the other six views of Brighton.
  • Tape measure. 3 feet in length, wooden barrel. Souvenir de Wimereux, 3 views.
  • Propelling pencil. Metal. Memory of Woolacombe, six views. Printed under the image: 'McKee Dublin'. Made in France.
  • Writing Pen. Le Nouvel Opéra Paris. A letter opener, now missing, would have formed one end of this item.
  • Needle Case. Six views of Ulverstone.
  • Bone paper knife. Four views of Windermere, dated 1876.
  • Cross to be worn as a pendent. Six views of Boulogne.
  • Black wooden pig. The image is 'A Memory of Clacton'. Made in France.
  • Black wooden pig. The image is missing.
  • Manicure set. Bone with fold-out parts. Images of Hastings.

Stanhopes date from the 1860s though most are from the 1890s to the early twentieth century from which time their popularity decreased. They are miniature collodion images mounted behind and in contact with a magnifying lens. Charles Stanhope was the originator of the lens, the idea of using it in conjunction with a small photograph is usually credited to David Brewster. Stanhopes are usually mounted in small articles - pens, tape measures, needle cases and jewellery. Mostly these were made of bone, ivory, wood or metal and often sold as souvenirs. The images were often produced in France.

References & Notes:
Gernsheim, History of Photography 2nd ed. p. 318.

Enamel and Photo-ceramics

Image of Enamel

. Photograph on enamel. Oval portrait 2" x 1 ½".

Image of Enamel

. J. de Parada, Bordeaux. Photograph on enamel. Oval portrait 6 cm x 7 cm. Photographer's name with a date of 1872 on the reverse.

Portrait on China Plaque

Image of Opal glass

Opal glass
. Two plaques of opal glass, portraits. Dated 1885 and 1901.

Half-tone reproduction of a photograph on china
. Burns Monument, Ridgway's Series.

Photo-ceramics are burnt-in images on china, porcelain and similar materials; enamels are the equivalent on metal. The image is permanent being formed, when the dusting-on process is used, from vitrifiable powder rather than photographic silver.

The first application was to transfer a collodion image coated with, for example, gold chloride or platinum chloride to the article which was then fired in a kiln where the silver of the image was replaced by the other metal. A patent was taken out for a collodion transfer process in 1854.1

The second method, which proved more popular, was to utilise a dusting-on process. A bichromate film was exposed under a negative in the ordinary way, the film remained tacky to varying degrees dependent on the exposure received, the film was then dusted with vitrifiable powder which adhered to the tacky portions of the image. The film was then mounted on the article and fired. Images in natural colour could be produced by mounting three films from three-colour separation negatives. Photo-ceramics were produced commercially by specialist firms from negatives supplied by the photographer. The first dusting-on process to be patented in Britain was in 1860, they were common from that time into the 1900s.2

An alternative to burning-in the image was to simply transfer a photographic image, collodion, carbon or gelatin silver bromide, to china or porcelain and to coat it in a varnish.3 Later half-tone images were printed on china plates and other articles.

References & Notes:
BJA 1900, p. 236, advertisement, p. 984. Eder, p. 566. Gernsheim, History of Photography 2nd ed. p. 342. Cyclopedia, p. 97, provides working instructions for a dusting-on process.

[1] BP 2020/1854.

[2] BP 149/1860. This patent was in the name of F.J. Joubert with the note that it is partly a communication from Henry Garnier so it may relate to Garnier and Salmon's work of a couple of years earlier.

[3] Talbot's patent 12906/1849 mentions this.


Image of Opaline

Photograph of a house, gilt bevelled edges, green velvet frame.

Opalines are paper photographs stuck to glass, usually mounted in a velvet frame.

References & Notes:
BJA 1890, p. 756, advertisement. Cyclopedia, p. 381.

Frith's Medallions

Francis Frith

Image of Frith's Medallions

Two medallion views, No. 26195 Carisbrooke Castle, No. 26142 Ventnor.

These are paper photographs mounted in contact with glass in a gilt oval frame. 5 ½" x 4".

Portrait on Tin

Image of Portrait on Tin

  • Hand-tinted, 3 ¼" x 2 ⅜". In case.
  • Hand-tinted, 3 ¼" x 2 ⅜". In case with inscription - USA Studios.

These are photographs mounted on thin metal rather than being tintypes.

Kiosk Photograph

Kiosk Photograph showing the persons weight
. A 'while you wait' photograph that shows the persons weight above the image. The weight is recorded on a dial. Dated 1932. 1 ½" x 3 ½".

Kiosk Photograph
. Four, ⅞" x 1" images.


c. 1930

Image of Photomaton

Photomaton image mounted in a postcard. Image size approximately 48 mm x 35 mm.

Photomaton images are a type of kiosk photograph, one means of presentation was to mount the image in a postcard with a suitable caption.


polyfoto Ltd.


Image of Partly used sheet of polyfotos

Partly used sheet of polyfotos

Image of Complete sheet of polyfotos

Complete sheet of polyfotos

polyfoto Print
. 1 ⅛" square print in 2 ½" x 3 ½" mount. This is an image cut from a polyfoto sheet and mounted.

Image of polyfoto Print

polyfoto Print
. 6" x 4 ½" in 11 ⅛" x 8 ⅛" folder.

Polyfotos were introduced in Britain around 1933, 48 images were individually taken on a glass plate in a special camera that allowed the plate to be moved between exposures. A print was sent to the customer who would then pick out which of the images were to be enlarged.

References & Notes:
BJA 1935, p. 617.

Street Photographs

Movie Photo
. A group of people walking in the street. 2 ½" x 2 ¼". The rear of the print is stamped Movie Photo.

Image of Filmographs

. A commercially produced 'street photograph' of two men walking along a street. The print shows two images, 2 ½" x 2", taken in quick succession with a motorised camera. The rear of the print is stamped Filmographs. The 'sprocket holes' have been added at the printing stage.

It was quite common, especially at holiday resorts, for a photographer to take an unposed photograph of someone and then provide the victim with details of the shop where the print could be obtained.

Image of Sun Films

Sun Films
. A 'street photograph' of two women walking along a street, dated on reverse 1936.

Lacey's Happy Snaps
. Alum Chine, Bournemouth. 'Street photographs' of a man and women walking by the coast. Two cards each having two images, image size 2 ½" x 2 ⅛".

Sunny Snaps
. London 1936. 'Street photographs' of a man walking in the street, postcard size with printed reverse.

Holiday Snaps
. Man and women walking by the coast. Postcard format.

Address: 10b Charlotte Place, Margate.

Sticky Back

Sticky Backs



Portrait of a woman 3 ½" x 2 ½" mount.

Stick Backs were studio-produced photographs, typically portraits, with a gummed backing, the photographs were often purchased by the sitter un-mounted.

Sticky Backs, which date to the Edwardian period, were produced using specialised, semi-automatic, camera and printing equipment. It seems that around six individually posed negatives were produced side-by-side on a single plate. These were then printed onto gummed paper. The negative and print contain a 'sitting' number to match the print to the sitter. The company name is also often included. Several studios existed having some variation of the Sticky Backs name, some of these were chains others were separate companies. It is not clear if this was a franchise operation or if the equipment was available from a single source. In some respects Stick Backs resembled the later kiosk photograph.

References & Notes:
Camera House Journal 1905, Vol. 2 No. 16, shows some of the mounts available from W. Butcher & Sons.

Sticky Back

Image of Sticky Back

Portrait of a woman 1 ¼" x 1 ½" un-trimmed showing the photograph numbering and the address of the photographer.

Address: 167 Montague St. Worthing.

Sticky Back

Portrait of a woman 1 ¼" x 1 ½" in 'Royal Miniature' mount.

Address: 48 Biggin Street, Dover and Atlanta Road, Ilfracombe.

Stickyback Album

Album, 3 ½" x 2 ½", containing 24 sticky back images, 1" x 1 ½".

Stamp Photo Album

Album, 3 ½" x 3 ½", containing 4, 1" x 1 ½" images per page.
These resemble Sticky Backs in style and format.

Photo Album

Album, 3 ½" x 2 ½", containing 2, 1" x 1 ½" images per page.

Cigarette Cards

Image of A Kodak at the Zoo

A Kodak at the Zoo
. Carreras Ltd., London.
  • Fifty cigarette cards 1 7/16" x 2 11/16" half-tone reproductions of zoo animals. The reverse of the cards carry details of the subject, photographic hints and a promotion offer to send a Hawkeye camera on receipt of 200 Black Cat coupons. Photographs by J. E. Saunders F.Z.S.
  • Second Series, details as above.
  • 'A Kodak at the Zoo', Booklet by J. E. Saunders published by Kodak Ltd. London. 64 pp. Includes hints on how to photograph animals with advertisements.

Address: Carreras Ltd. City Rd., London.

Image of Britain from the Air

Britain from the Air
. A series of 48 cigarette cards. Bromide prints 3" x 2". Published by Senior Service.

Bridges of Britain
. A series of 48 cigarette cards. Bromide prints 3" x 2". Published by Senior Service.

Beautiful Scotland
. A series of 48 cigarette cards. Bromide prints 3" x 2". Published by Senior Service.

Image of Cousis' Cigarettes

Cousis' Cigarettes
. Seventy-three cards 2" x 1 ⅛", silver prints. Famous people. Published by Cousis' Cigarettes.

Miniature print

A miniature print of King Edward VIII, probably for mounting in a locket 17/32" x 12/32". 1936.

Souvenir Cards

Jewel Photos

Image of Souvenir Cards

  • Bruges. Series A. Ten bromide prints 6 x 9 cm cream paper in cardboard cover.
  • Bruges. Series B. Ten bromide prints 6 x 9 cm cream paper in cardboard cover.
  • Ghent. Series A. Ten bromide prints 6 x 9 cm white paper in cardboard cover.

Panoramic Postcards

Photochrom Co. Ltd.



Image of Panoramic Postcards

  • Windsor St. George's Chapel 33199. Panoramic card 7 15/16" x 2 15/16". Half-tone reproduction on thick card 9 9/16" x 3 15/16".
  • Windsor Castle from North West 33204. Panoramic card 7 15/16" x 2 15/16". Half-tone reproduction on thick card 9 9/16" x 3 15/16".
  • Callander 9491. Panoramic card 7 ⅞" x 2 15/16". Half-tone reproduction on thick card 9 ¾" x 4".
  • Callander Hydropathic 9500. Panoramic card 7 ⅞" x 2 15/16". Half-tone reproduction on thick card 9 ¾" x 4".
The reverse of the card allows for address details but no additional writing.

Pictorial Letter Card

Eight stencil-coloured photographs of Jersey arranged as a book with a cover containing address details. Post mark of 1908.


Image of Paperweight

Half-tone reproduction on a mirror of S.S. Amra, 3 ½" x 2 ½". c. 1940s.

The image is within a thick glass block The Amra of the British India Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. was built in the late 1930s, she is shown with a black hull, in 1955 BISN ships were changed to white hulls.

Matchless Isle of Wight

Matchless Isle of Wight. Ten bromide prints in the form of a book of matches.

"Wafer" Photographs

Several images c. 18 mm x 22 mm with adhesive backs, contained in packet.





Calotype & Salt Prints

Cartes de Visite

Cabinet & Studio Mounts

Carte de Visite Album

Stereo Cards and Diapositives


'Hold to Light' Photographs


Colour Processes


Illustrated Books

Novelty Photographs


Lantern Slides

Film Strips

Wet-plate Negatives

Dry-plate Negatives