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Portrait collection

Cartes de Visite

The carte de visite, (carte-de-visite, CdV or CDV) was a photographic format patented by André Disdéri in 1854 which reduced production costs and enabled the mass-production of photographic prints.

Between 1860 and 1866 "cardomaina" became an international craze across Europe and America. The standardised format utilized a 2.5 in x 4 in (64mm x 100mm) card which served as a mount for a paper photograph (usually an albumen print).

The name "carte de visite" comes from the format's similarity to the dimensions of Victorian calling cards.

Cabinet cards

The cabinet card format was invented by the London photographic studio of Windsor and Bridge in 1863. The larger print size, approximately 110mm x 170mm, 4.5in x 6.5in compared with the smaller 'carte de visite' was marketed as suitable for viewing at a distance, particularly when displayed on parlour cabinets, hence the name.

By the mid-1860s the greater image size led to the cabinet card superceding the 'carte de visite' as the most popular form of photographic portraiture, a position the format held until the turn of the century.

From 1890 onwards the cabinet card's popularity went into decline as cameras using celluloid film became cheaper, putting photography directly into the hands of the public. Although cabinet cards were still being produced as late as the 1920s, the mass market for formal portraiture was gone, replaced by the era of the 'snapshot'.

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