Carte de visite
The carte de visite (abbreviated CdV or CDV, and also spelled carte-de-visite or erroneously referred to as carte de ville) was a type of small photograph which was patented in Paris, France by photographer André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri in 1854, although first used by Louis Dodero. It was usually made of an albumen print, which was a thin paper photograph mounted on a thicker paper card. The size of a carte de visite is 54.0 mm (2.125 in) × 89 mm (3.5 in) mounted on a card sized 64 mm (2.5 in) × 100 mm (4 in). In 1854, Disdéri had also patented a method of taking eight separate negatives on a single plate, which reduced production costs. The Carte de Visite was slow to gain widespread use until 1859, when Disdéri published Emperor Napoleon III's photos in this format. This made the format an overnight success. The new invention was so popular it was known as "cardomania" and it spread throughout Europe and then quickly to America and the rest of the world.
Each photograph was the size of a visiting card, and such photograph cards were traded among friends and visitors. Albums for the collection and display of cards became a common fixture in Victorian parlors. The immense popularity of these card photographs led to the publication and collection of photographs of prominent persons.
By the early 1870s, cartes de visite were supplanted by "cabinet cards," which were also usually albumen prints, but larger, mounted on cardboard backs measuring 110 mm (4.5 in) by 170 mm (6.5 in). Cabinet cards remained popular into the early 20th century, when Kodak introduced the Brownie camera and home snapshot photography became a mass phenomenon.
The American Civil War
The carte de visite photograph proved to be a very popular item during the American Civil War. Soldiers, friends and family members would have a means of inexpensively obtaining photographs and sending them to loved ones in small envelopes. Photos of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and other celebrities of the era became an instant hit in the North. People were not only buying photographs of themselves, but also collecting photographs of celebrities.
Queen Victoria .jpg
One of the first cartes de visite of Queen Victoria taken by photographer John Jabez Edwin Mayall
Carte de visite of Hector Berlioz from 1864 or 1865, around the time his young lover Amélie broke off their relationship and soon died
Two examples of carte de visite photographs taken during the American Civil War. Each soldier shown here served with the 77th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.
Carte de visite of Sojourner Truth. She sold these to raise money (see inscription)
The only known photograph of Mary Seacole, taken for a carte de visite by Maull & Company in London in c.1873
Carte de visite of Sim D. Kehoe, who brought Indian clubs to the United States from England
CDV of a chair presented by Kinman to Abraham Lincoln. Kinman sold these CDVs in the U.S. Capitol
Fridtjof Nansen, 1886
Camille Silvy's portrait of William Fane De Salis, London, 1861
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- Dr. Robert Leggat MA M.Ed Ph.D. FRPS FRSA
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- Mathew Brady, Father of Photojournalism
- Portraits of Scientists: Increase Lapham's Cartes-de-visite Collection Collected by pioneering Wisconsin antiquarian Increase A. Lapham between 1862–75, this album of carte-de-visite photographic portraits depicts many notable 19th-century scientists from America and Europe. Available on Wisconsin Historical Images, the Wisconsin Historical Society's online image database.
- University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections – 19th Century Actors Photographs Cartes-de-visite studio portraits of entertainers, actors, singers, comedians and theater managers who were involved with or performed on the American stage in the mid-to-late 19th century.
- Gettysburg College Nineteenth Century Notables Digital Collection
- William Emerson Strong Photograph Album -- Duke University Libraries Digital Collections 200 cartes-de-visite depicting officers in the Confederate Army and Navy, officials in the Confederate government, famous Confederate wives, and other notable figures of the Confederacy. Also included are 64 photographs attributed to Mathew Brady.
- Southern Cartes de Visite Collection, A.S. Williams III American Collection, Division of Special Collections, University of Alabama Libraries. Over 3300 digitized cartes-de-visite, the majority of them from southern studios.
- The Carte de Visite file at the New-York Historical Society