Cartes de Visite - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Cartes de Visite

There are several versions of the introduction of the carte de visite, but all agree that they became popular in the late 1850s. They retained their popularity until the late 1860s when it started to decline but they were still produced in the 1900s. Cartes de visite consist of a print stuck to a card mount of about 4 ⅛" x 2 ½" in size. The prints were mostly albumen and, later, emulsion based printing-out-paper. Other processes, including carbon and Woodburytype, were also used.

Cartes de visite considerably reduced the cost of having a portrait taken and made it within reach of most people, as a result there was a dramatic increase in the number of studio photographers. They also started a collecting craze - only possible with a standardised format. Cartes were collected of the extended family, and of royalty and the famous.

Many cartes were kept in albums, special forceps were sold to remove the cartes through slots in the page. Optical viewers and other viewing devices were produced.

Early cartes were usually on plain mounts either white, cream or similar, with square corners. The photographer's name, if on the front of the card, was in small lettering, the reverse had a restrained look to it. Later mounts were in different colours - yellow, green, pink and black were popular, the mounts were thicker than previous and had rounded corners, the mounts often had gold edges and sometimes a border around the print. The photographer's name became more prominent and the reverse of the card carried an elaborate design. A tissue guard was often attached to the mount.

Most cartes are of single portraits, groups were less common as were topographical and architectural subjects. Cartes, often in a series, depicting comic scenes were produced. Early cartes usually show a full length figure, later, head and shoulders and three-quarter length poses were more common, the use of oval vignettes were also typical of later cartes. As a variant to a flat print some later cartes had their central part raised either by placing the card in a press or placing padding between the print and the mount. Cartes with several small raised portions, a small portrait on each, were also made.1

Most cameras used for carte de visite photographs were fitted with multiple lenses or had a repeating back allowing several images to be captured on a single plate. This reduced the processing costs as only a single plate had to be sensitised and developed, and a single contact print from the plate yielded several images. There was also less wastage, with a wet collodion plate 'thumb' room, where the plate was held whilst being sensitised, and the area lost due to the silver corner pieces in the dark slide, would be considerable for a single small image.2

References & Notes:

Howarth-Loomes, Victorian Photography. A Collectors Guide, p. 81. Gernsheim, History of Photography, p. 293.

[1] The credit for a card having four small portraits, called a Diamond Cameo, is usually given to F.R. Window.

[2] Some cameras made by Dallmeyer for single images exist. Stereo cameras were often sold with an extra back to take two cartes.


European

Image of

Adolphe Disdéri
. Man sitting holding a cane. Albumen print on plain white mount, red printing on reverse.

Address: 8 Boulevard des Italiens, Paris. 70,71,72 Brook St., Hanover Sq., London. Hereford Lodge Brompton Rd., London. c. 1866 - 1870.

Image of

Adolphe Disdéri
. Portrait of a woman. Albumen print with raised centre. White mount with gold surround to image, red printing on reverse.

Address: 8 Boulevard des Italiens, Paris.

Adolphe Disdéri
. Portrait of a boy. Albumen print. White mount with gold surround to image, red printing on reverse.

Address: 8 Boulevard des Italiens, Paris.

Image of

Adolphe Disdéri
. Portrait of a woman. Albumen print. Mauve printing on white mount.

Address: 6 Boulevard des Italiens, Paris.

Adolphe Disdéri
. Full-length portrait of a man. Albumen print. White mount.

Address: 8 Boulevard des Italiens, Paris.

Nadar
, Paris. Albumen print of a woman. White mount with thick red border, red printing. 'Photographie du Grand Hôtel' is printed above the Nadar name.

Address: 35 Boulevart des Capucines, Paris.

Nadar
, Paris. Albumen print of a woman, head-and-shoulders. White mount with border to image, red printing.

Address: 35 Boulevart des Capucines, Paris.

Image of

Nadar
, Paris. Albumen print of a man, head-and-shoulders. White mount with border to image, red printing. 'Photographie du Grand Hôtel' is printed above the Nadar name.

Address: 35 Boulevart des Capucines, Paris.

Image of

Nadar
, Paris. Albumen print, portrait of a woman. Yellow mount with red border, red printing.

Address: 51 Rue d'Anjou, Saint Honoré.

The Saint Honoré studio is described in The Photographic Studios of Europe.

Image of

Fred. Boissonnas
, Genève. Print on plain cream mount. Dated Aug. 1881.

Address: 4 Quai de la Poste, Genève.

M.H. Fontès
. Photograph of a wedding couple. Glossy print on cream mount. Dated 1884.

Address: 60 Avenue de Clichy, Paris.

M.H. Fontès
. Extremely glossy print on yellow mount raised centre and red border.

Address: 60 Avenue de Clichy, Paris.

Image of

M.H. Fontès
. Photograph of a woman. Extremely glossy print on yellow mount with raised centre.

Address: 60 Avenue de Clichy, Paris.

Verneuil
, Paris. Extremely glossy print.

Address: 34 Rue Dauphine, Paris. (1869 - 1870).

References & Notes:
McCauley, Industrial Madness.

Bonnier
. Photograph of a man in uniform. Glossy print on grey mount with tissue guard. The studio specialised in military subjects.

Address: 29 Rue du Vieux, Versailles.

P.J. Schreiner
, Bad Neuenahr. Mauve/black image of a man with a child. Dated 1898.

British

Antoine Claudet
, London. Full-length portrait.

Address: 107 Regent St. Quadrant.

Camille Silvy
, London. Full-length portrait. The subject is identified as Frank Johnston.

Address: 38 Porchester Terrace, Bayswater.

Camille Silvy
, London. Princess Augusta Wilhelmina Louisa, Duchess of Cambridge. Full-length portrait. Silvy favoured elaborate backgrounds such as the one shown in this example.

Address: 38 Porchester Terrace, Bayswater.

References & Notes:
The National Portrait Gallery dates the image to 9 October 1860.

Jabez Hughes
, Ryde, Isle of Wight. Vignette portrait of a woman. Dated 1874.

The Ryde studio is described in The Photographic Studios of Europe.

Jabez Hughes
, Ryde, Isle of Wight. Three-quarter length portrait of a woman.

Jabez Hughes
, Ryde, Isle of Wight. Three-quarter length portrait of a woman.

Jabez Hughes
, Ryde, Isle of Wight. Vignette portrait of a woman sitting at a table.

Image of

Jabez Hughes
, Ryde, Isle of Wight. Vignette portrait of a man. Glossy print.

Image of

Mayall
, London. Full-length image of a man leaning against a chair. Cream mount.

Address: 224 Regent St.

Image of

Mayall
, London. Photograph of a woman standing with a book, cream mount. Dated 1864.

Address: 224 Regent St., London and 90 Kings Rd., Brighton.

Image of

Mayall
, London. Portrait of a man, raised centre, cream mount.

Address: 91 Kings Rd., Brighton and 224 Regent St., London.

The Brighton studio is described in The Photographic Studios of Europe.

The reverse of the card has 'All Mr Mayall's productions are published by Marion & Co'.

H.P. Robinson
, Tunbridge Wells. Portrait of a woman.

Robinson & Cherrill
, Tunbridge Wells. Portrait of a woman leaning against a chair.

H.P. Robinson and N.K. Cherrill.

Image of

Robinson & Cherrill
, Tunbridge Wells. Portrait of a woman.

H.P. Robinson and N.K. Cherrill.

Sarony & Co
. Vignette portrait of a man.

Address: 66 New St., Birmingham.

Image of

Sarony & Co
. Portrait of a man.

Address: Scarborough.

The studio is described in The Photographic Studios of Europe.

Image of

Sarony & Co
. Autotype (carbon) print, portrait of a man. Scarborough studio.

Arthur J. Melhuish
, London. Vignette portrait of a woman.

Address: 12 York Place, Portman Sq.

Image of

Friese Greene
, Bath. Portrait of a woman.

Address: 7 Corridor, Bath.

Image of

Friese Greene
, Bath. Three-quarter length portrait of a woman.

Address: 7 Corridor, Bath. 34 Gay St., Bath. Queen's Rd., Clifton. Union St., Plymouth.

Image of

J.R. Sawyer
. Portrait of a man, seated holding a cane.

Address: 46 London St., Norwich. 18 Brook St., Ipswich.

Image of

Sawyer & Bird
. Portrait of a man. The reverse of the card has 'Autotype and Photo Mechanical Printers. Works Ealing Dean'.

Address: Yarmouth studio, also at Norwich.

Samuel Fry
, Kingston-on-Thames. Portrait of a man holding a cane.

Address: 9 Surbiton Park Terrace. Kingston-on-Thames.

Cundall, Downes & Co.
, Bedford. Vignette portrait of a woman. Thin card mount.

Image of

Morgan & Kidd
. Portrait of a child. The back of the card has Morgan & Kidd. Photographers & Miniature Painters to the Royal Family, Royal Naval College, Royal Observatory, The Indian Government &c.

Address: Helio House Studio, Circus, Greenwich.

Elliott & Fry
, London. Portrait of a man.

Address: 55 Baker St.

The studio is described in The Photographic Studios of Europe.

Image of

Elliott & Fry
, London. Portrait of a woman reading a book.

Address: 55 Baker St.

Image of

Elliott & Fry
, London. Portrait of a woman with a small basket of flowers.

Address: 55 Baker St.

Elliott & Fry
, London. Portrait of William Bence Jones, marked 'copyright' below image.

Address: 55 Baker St.

Elliott & Fry
, London. Portrait of a man. Later than the previous entries with a border on the reverse of the card and more elaborate script.

Address: 55 Baker St.

Image of

Elliott & Fry
, London. Portrait of a woman. border on the reverse of the card.

Address: 55 & 56 Baker St.

Elliott & Fry
, London. Portrait of a child. border on the reverse of the card.

Address: 55 & 56 Baker St.

Image of

Hills & Saunders
, Oxford. Vignette portrait of a man.

Image of

Hills & Saunders
, Harrow. Vignette portrait of a man.

Maull & Co.
, London. Photograph of a man, top hat on a table. Albumen print on white mount.

Address: 187A Piccadilly. 62 Cheapside. Tavistock House, Fulham Rd.

Image of

F.R. Window
, London. Portrait of a man.

Address: 63A Baker St., Portman Sq.

Image of

Window & Grove
, London. Portrait of a man.

Address: 63A Baker St., Portman Sq.

The studio is described in The Photographic Studios of Europe.

Image of

London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co. Ltd
, London. Portrait of a man. Grey back to mount, white front, gold lettering.

Address: 54 Cheapside and 106 & 108 Regent St.

London Stereoscopic Co. Ltd
, London. Raised print pasted to flat card.

Address: 54 Cheapside. 110 & 108 Regent St. The word Limited has been added by a stamp so the card probably dates to 1885 when L.S.C. became a limited company.

London School of Photography
, London. Albumen print of a man holding a top hat.

Address: 103 Newgate St. 174 Regent St. 52 Cheapside. 23 Poultry. Pantheon Oxford St. Myddelton Hall. 52 King William St. E.C. (all addresses in London). 46 Church St., Liverpool. (c. 1865 - 1866).

Horne & Thornthwaite
, London. Full-length study of a man, hand resting on a chair. Albumen print.

Address: 121, 122 & 123 Newgate St.

Horne & Thornthwaite
, London. Full-length portrait of a man.

Address: 213 Regent St. and 121 Newgate St.

John Hart
, London. Photograph of a man, cream mount.

Address: 179, 181 City Rd. 275 Leytonstone Rd. (c. 1888 - 1898).

A & G. Taylor
. Vignette portrait of a man.

Address: 70 & 78 Queen Victoria St. 129 Fenchurch St. Forest Lodge, London Rd. Forest Hill.

A & G. Taylor
. Vignette portrait of a man.

Address: 62 & 64 Ludgate Hill 70 & 78 Queen Victoria St. 129 Fenchurch St. Forest Lodge, London Rd. Forest Hill.

Taylor's studio is described in The Photographic Studios of Europe.

Image of

Ch. C. Wyatt
, London. Coloured card showing a man seated at a table, top hat on table. Very good colouring.

Image of

E. Hewett
, London. Raised print marked 'Permanent Patent Chromotype'.

Address: 134 Edgware Rd. (1876 - 1879).

E. Goodfellow
, Wincanton. Albumen print. Family group. White mount.

Goodfellow
, Wincanton. Print on black mount, gold lettering and edges.

Goodfellow
, Wincanton. Print on green mount, gold lettering and edges.

Debenham & Gould
, Bournemouth. Vignette on white mount. Dated 1894.

Debenham & Gould
, Bournemouth. Glossy vignette having black tones, white mount. In paper envelope with the studio's name. From the same negative as the previous entry but printed some time later.

Image of

Bennett & Son
, Worcester. 'Copied by T. Bennett & Son', white mount with red border, tissue guard. Dated by the studio 1888.

Address: 8 Broad St., Worcester and Gazebo House, Church St., Malvern.

Image of

F.C. Earl
, Worcester & Malvern. Carbon print marked 'Autotype Patent'.

Barns
, Ashford. Late card mauve/black image with simple back.

Address: 100 High St.

Image of

Gibson
, Penzance. Photograph of a child, cream mount.

Image of

Michell & Son
, St. Austell. Very small image.

Image of

J. Eastham
, Manchester. Portrait of a man, albumen print.

Address: 22 St. Ann's Sq.

Image of

Turner & Drinkwater
, Hull.

Address: Elm Tree House, Anlaby Rd.

J. Bell
, Frome.

Address: Catherine St.

Image of

J. Sherwood
, Bedale. Albumen print of a woman, seated full-length against an elaborate painted background.

Image of

H.J. Hughes
, Carnarvon. Group portrait.

Address: 1 & 2 Victoria St. Twthill

Image of

Richard Keene
, Derby. Albumen print of a man, head-and-shoulders portrait.

J. Herriott
, Newcastle & Gateshead. Albumen print showing the swing bridge over the Tyne.

Image of

The Manchester Photographic Co. (Limited)
, Manchester. Haddon Hall Derbyshire No. 373. Produced between 1865 and 1868. The Manchester Photographic Co. was previously H. Petschler.

Address: 82 - 84 Market St.

Image of

J.R. Sawyer
. View of Norwich Cathedral. Plain back except for the number 168 written in ink, name embossed below image 'Sawyer Photo.'.

Image of

G.W. Wilson
. Oban 32A. Albumen print, white mount.

Image of

G.W. Wilson
. Central Tower Melrose Abbey 1278. Albumen print, white mount.

Image of

Francis Bedford
. Stoneleigh Abbey (2240). Albumen print on plain white mount.

Twelve Views of Chester
. Francis Bedford. Albumen print on plain cream mount.

Other Countries

Image of

Bourne & Shepheard
. Albumen print of a man, cream mount with green printing.

Bourne & Shepheard
. Vignette portrait of a man, cream mount with black printing.

Unnamed

York Minster
. Albumen print of York Minster showing a camera on a tripod in the foreground.

Image of York Minster

York Minster
. Related to the previous card, the photograph is taken from a slightly different position, possibly from the camera shown in the previous card.

Chemin de fer du Rigi - Funicular Railway
. Albumen print.

Waterfall
. Matt print, white mount.

Stream
. Albumen print showing a stream, white mount.

House
. Albumen print of a large house, cream mount.

Late card
. Late print on glossy paper, white mount.

Half-tone image
. Late half-tone reproduction of W. Sargent.

Oddities

Specimen card
. T.C. & I. Chaplin, Stratford-on-Avon. A card listing prices of cartes and cabinet photographs with an example albumen portrait on the front.

'Duchess of Devonshire'
. London Stereoscopic Co., London. Card detailing the theft of a painting - 'Duchess of Devonshire' by Gainsborough - from Agnew's gallery in Bond Street and the reward offered for its recovery. Albumen print. The theft occurred on 25 May 1876.

Address: 110, 108 & 106 Regent St., 54 Cheapside and 2 Bow Church Yard.

Frontispiece Card
. Ashford Brothers & Co., London. A card requesting that the viewer adds their card to the album.

Address: 76 Newgate St., (1863 - 1867).

Image of Frontispiece Card

Frontispiece Card
. A card requesting that the viewer adds their card to the album.

Image of Birth listings

Birth listings
. Edgar Cael, Bromley, Kent. Card reproducing the birth listings in the Times. 4 May 1875.

Address: Bromley Arcade. 130 High St. and 31 Market Square.

Image of Marriage listings

Marriage listings
. Cantuar Photographic Co., Bromley, Kent. Card reproducing the marriage listings in the Times. 10 October 1884. Two examples.

Image of Political Satire

Political Satire
. Fradelle & Marshall, London. Albumen print of a drawing or print showing Gladstone, Lowe and Ayrton, as depicted in the play The Happy Land. 1873.

Address: 230 Regent St.

Images

Silhouette

Daguerreotype

Ambrotype

Tintype

Calotype & Salt Prints

Cartes de Visite

  European

  British

  Other Countries

  Unnamed

  Oddities

Cabinet & Studio Mounts

Carte de Visite Album

Stereo Cards and Diapositives

Prints

'Hold to Light' Photographs

Panoramas

Colour Processes

Albums

Illustrated Books

Novelty Photographs

Photomechanical

Lantern Slides

Film Strips

Wet-plate Negatives

Dry-plate Negatives