Dating cabinet card phtographs
Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln and Broadway theater actors were popular subjects. Most have the photograph studio’s stamp or embossment on front and/or back, making it easy to identify cartes by famous photographers Dating the Carte de Visite Along with the subject in the image (style of clothes, identifiable person, etc), cartes can be dated by the style of the mount, as this changed over time. Most 1900s cartes will have gelatin-silver prints with more black and white images.
Collecting cartes and putting them into specially made albums was a popular hobby, and many of these albums exist today. Examples with carbon prints and cyanotypes (bright blue images) are rare but can be found.
The early paper photographic prints were thin and delicate and had to be affixed to a backing.
However, the backing also made for an attractive presentation.
CDVs with a 1 cent stamp date between March 1864 and August 1866. However, if everything else looks consistent with the era, a tax stamp is a great bonus and will usually raise the value as it pinpoints the age.
In the 1890s, the image can be sepia, black and white (from the start of the use of gelatin-silver prints) and can sometimes have a light green tinge.
Some aren’t named, and are represented by their size— such as ‘1880s 13×7 inch mounted photograph.’ As size effects desirability and value, a seller should always list the height and width of the mount.
Within the different types and sizes of card photographs there are differences in style of the mounts.
Some sizes of mounted photographs have names, such as the cabinet card and carte de visite.
By the late 1800s backgrounds were often busy and garish. From August 1st 1864 to August 1st 1866 the US government required that tax stamps be put on photographs.
A later amendment allowed for 1 cent stamps to be used. Tax stamps can be faked, so the collector shouldn’t rely alone on stamps.
The 1860s mounts are typically thinner than the 1870s mounts which are typically thinner than the 1880s and later mounts.
Having inexpensive examples from different years on hand will help judge thickness.