Photo cards

Photo cards, real photo cards, and photochrome cards were small-sized photographs that were collected by families and friends, often sent through mail or as postcards and displayed in cabinets (owing its namesake) or otherwise framed and carefully collected. They often featured friends or family members living abroad, traveling, or otherwise. Photo cards can depict landscapes and nature but most featured portraits of individuals, famous actresses, friends or families, political events, natural disasters, or even mundane everyday life. Early photo cards are distinguishable by their sepia tone or black and white color, from the development process.

These cards often feature personalized names or locations on the front and sometimes advertisements for the photographer on the back. As the trend grew more colorful and complex in the 1870s through to the 1890s, the names and advertisements of photographers developed less expensive methods of embossing or stamping.

Real photo cards grew in popularity by as camera technology improved, allowing for enlargements and borders. By the 1930s, the development a lithographic developing technique allowed for a third wave of popular photo card called the photochrome. Photo experts can assist or help investigate these varied types of photo cards by their gradation, colors, dot patterns, and processes. The evolution of hobbyist and professional photography exploded during this time in the early 19th century.

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A cabinet card from 1896

A cabinet card from 1896