Assignment #8: Antique Mounted and Card Photographs

Assignment: Read chapter 10 (Early Mounted Photographs) in the textbook  (free pdf version here or purchase hard copy here).

Additional notes:

In general, mounted photos are dated by a combination of the image subject, the process (albumen = 1800s, gelatin silver usually 1900s) and the style of the mount.  Many fakes are identified when the mount and subject don’t match (ala a 1910 image of Teddy Roosevelt on an 1860s cabinet mount).  Also realize that in the old days many famous images (Abe Lincoln, Custer, George Washington) were reprinted years later, so you can find a genuine 1890s cabinet card showing, say, Lincoln in the 1860s.  That the image is albumen demonstrates the cabinet is vintage 1890s, and not some modern forgery.

dated 1891 albumn cabinet card showing Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s.  A reprinted image, but still over a century old and still collectible.
dated 1891 albumen cabinet card showing Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s. A reprinted image, but still over a century old and still collectible.
Turn of the 20th century 8.5 x 6.5 mounted photograph of General Sherman and his staff, taken in May 1865. The gelatin silver print, dark mount and text in the label date the photo to after the 1860s..
Turn of the 20th century 8.5 x 6.5 mounted photograph of General Sherman and his staff, taken in May 1865. The gelatin silver print, dark mount and text in the label date the photo to after the 1860s.  Despite being a reprint, this photo sold for $1,4oo as an antique display piece.

Though photographic images are by far most common, CDVs and cabinets can be found with etchings, engravings, lithographs and other ink and printing press prints affixed to them instead of photos.  These are also collectible.

1893 imperial cabinet card with a lithograph instead of a photograph.
1893 imperial cabinet card with a lithograph instead of a photograph.
CDV with etching of composer Felix Mendellsohn
CDV with etching of composer Felix Mendellsohn

Some fakes have a digital reprint of a desirable image (famous baseball player, famous Western outlaw, other) pasted to a genuine antique mount.  The digital print is pasted over the old image.  The print itself can be identified as fake by the dot pattern under magnification or black light test, and often the image and mount don’t match up (ala 1910s image on 1860s mount).

The mounts themselves are usually easy to identify as genuine/antique, as they were factory cut, often professionally embossed and gilded and show signs of age– toning, foxing, smell old and musty, bone dry.

Further online resources:

Some use thickness of the mount to help date CDVs. An online guide this subject is at http://www.classyarts.com/howto.htm?part=DCPthickness

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Homework questions for Assignment #8

30) Carte de visite is French for what?

31) What are the dimensions of a cabinet card?

32) A cabinet card is larger or smaller than a carte de visite?

33) What are the dimensions of a boudoir card?

34) Describe what a crayon and chalk portrait photograph looks like.

35) What are the dimensions of a Swiss card?

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Course Assignments:

Assignment #1 : Introductory Reading

Assignment #2: Albumen Prints

Assignment #3: Gelatin Silver Prints

Assignment #4: Daguerreotypes, tintypes, ambrotypes and other ‘hard’ early photos

Assignment #5: Stamps and Tags

Assignment #6: Color Photographs

Assignment #7: Real Photo Postcards

Assignment #8: Antique Mounted and Card Photographs

Assignment #9: News Photos and Press Photos

Assignment #10: More News Photos

Assignment #11: Provenance

Assignment #12: Other Antique Paper Photo Processes

Assignment #13: Modern Photomechanical and Digital Processes

Assignment #14: Making Final Identification Judgments

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