** photography print type : cabinet card country trends America United states formats sizes








Photographic Cabinet Cards: United States--Formats and Sizes


Figure 1.--This classic cabinet card portrait was done in the standard 4 by 6 inch format size. It shows an unidentifid boy about 4 years old. He wears ak ilt suit with what appers yo be a plaid vest. The pleated kilt is also done in a muted plaid. The kilt matches the vest rather thn the jacket. The studio was Arthur Glines, Boston, Massachusettes. The portrait was taken in 1890, the date is printed on the back of the card. As was common in the 1890s, the mount is a light color such as cream.

The formats and mount styles used for cabinet cards were very similar during 19th century (1866-1900). We refer to these as the classic cabinet card format. We see very few cabinet cards that were not the standard 4 by 6 inches. This was the sanme standard size common in Europe. Like CDVs the sizes were standard, in part because albums were made to store and display them. While the size was veruy standard, the mount stles varied somewhat. And they were taken in very large numbers, much larger than in Europe. Unlike Europe, we almost never see the term cabinet card or cabinet portrait used on these American cards. The American cabinet cards are generally easy to identify because along with the name of the studio, the city and state is almost always indicated with a few exceptions. For reasons we do not fully understand, about the turn-of-the 20th century we see radical changes in the mounts and formats used for these cards. Some of these new formats behan to appear in the late-1890s, but they were most pronounced in the 1900s. We see many new sizes and mount styles (1900s-10s). Cabinet cards continued to be popular in the 1900s, but we begin to see other formats, postcard back prints and studio portraits offered in paper frames. As result by the 1910s we see far fewer cabinet cards.

Classic Format Cabinet Cards (Primarily 19th century: 1860s-90s)

The intial albumen print format was the CDV. The CDV ws rapidly replaced by the larger cabinet card format in America. The popularity of CDVs persisted more in Europe. The formats and mount styles used for cabinet cards were very similar during 19th century (1866-1900). We refer to these as the classic cabinet card format. We see very few cabinet cards that were not the standard 4 by 6 inch format. There were larger cards which could be ordered from the studio. The vast majority, however, were ghe standard 4 by 6 inch size. This was the same standard size common in Europe. Like CDVs the sizes were standard, in part because albums were made to store and display them. And thus this is the size that printing companies made and sold the mounts. While the nount size was very standard, the mount styles and colors varied and can be used to help date the portraits. Most but not all were studio portraits. And they were taken in very large numbers, much larger than in Europe. Unlike Europe, we almost never see the term cabinet card or cabinet portrait used on these American cards. The American cabinet cards are generally easy to identify because along with the name of the studio, the city and state is almost always indicated with a few exceptions. Here we see a good example from 1890 (figure 1).

CDV Styled Cabinet Cards

The vast majority of classic 19th cabinet cards were done wuth the classic mounts. Wewouls say over 95 percent or more of the vast number of cabinet cards produced. There were variations and some lacked the studio logos, but the vast majority of mounts matched the classic style. We have found a few cabinet cards that were done more like the CDV mount format. We see exmples done in the 1860s-80s. The reason that we classify them as cabinet cards and not CDVs, even though they look like CDVs, is simply the size. The classic cabinet cards with few exceptions were 4 by 6 inches (108 x 165 mm). The reson that both cabinet cards and CDVs were standardized wa that albums wre sold for both and they had slots for the portraits that required size standardization. The CDV styled cabinet cards had a much smaller bottom area with the studio information, And they were done in basic fonts, no florid caligraphy. The standard format was the studio at the left and usually the city at the right. We also notice incudentally a few CDVs that look like minature cabinet cards.

Large Format Cards

The cabinet card like the CDV in the 19th century was a standard size. Almost all 19th century cabinet cards were 4 by 6 inches (108 x 165 mm). This was the case both in America and Europe. This was in part because many families had slotted albumns made for the standard styles. They only accomodated the standard styles. While almost all the 19th century cabinet cards were the classic size, there were a few lathe formt cards. These were a small proportion, but they did exist. We are yet sure anout the size or to what extent there were standardized sizes for these larger cards. On card suggests about 11x9 i, but we need more examples before naking definative assessment. These large sizes were not used for portraits. Rather we see them being used for group portraits like school or family groupings. School groups by far seem the most common. Here we are primarily talking about the 19th century. We see larger format cabinet cards after the urn of the 20th century, but this was pat of major changes with many changes as part of new style mounts. And we no longer see and standard size as was the case in the 19th century.


Figure 2.--This was one of the new style cabinet cards tgat appeared around the turn-of the 20th century. It was slightly larger than the classic cards, 5 1/8" wide x 7 1/8" tall, It ws mounted on tan cardboard with embossing around the photograph. Not only is the portrait better framed, but the classic stidio information is much smaller and less prominent. The studio here is embossed in the lower-right corner. Some cabinet cards did not have studio information.

New Format Cabinet Cards (Primariy 20th century: 1900s-10s)

For reasons we do not fully understand, about the turn-of-the 20th century we see radical changes in the mounts and formats used for these cards. We suspect it was an effort to compete wih the Kodak Browie and the explosion of mateur snapshits, nost of which were no mounted. Some of these new formats began to appear in the late-1890s, but they were most pronounced in the 1900s. We see small cream cards with patterned paper. Very small prints were populr in these neww cars, sonetimes with oval formatting. We also see larger cards with lrge prints. Graying green was popukr for th mounts. e see many new sizes and mount styles (1900s-10s). Cabinet cards continued to be popular in the 1900s, but we begin to see other formats, postcard back prints and studio portraits offered in paper frames. As result by the 1910s we see far fewer cabinet cards. The omes we do see tend to be larger and we no longer see cards with very small images,





HBC







Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to:Main U.S. cabinet card page]
[Return to:Main cabinet card country page]
[Return to:Main cabinet card page]
[Return to:Main American photography page]
[Return to:Main photographic print type page]
[Return to:Main photography page]
[About Us]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Sailor suits] [Sailor hats] [Buster Brown suits]
[Eton suits] [Rompers] [Tunics] [Smocks] [Pinafores]




Created: 11:17 PM 6/14/2012
Last updated: 6:05 PM 6/15/2018