New American Cabinet Cards: Small Numbers in the 1890s

cabinet cards 1890s

Figure 1.--This class portrait at the Adams School in Port Huron, Michigan was taken in 1899. One of the girls preserved it as a keepsake. Notice the very largemargins and card area. Also notice the tan color. Classic mounts were not done in this color. Notice that there is no indication as to the studio andcity which was standard on the classic mounnts.

New style mounts appeared at the turn of the century with many different sizes and styles. We see varied sizes, both smaller and larger and different styles. While the change occurred rather suddenly at the turn-of-the century, we do see a few examples from in the 1890s. Thy are a very small proportion of the decade photogrphs, mostly from the later-90s. We have not yet found examples from the 1880s and almost all the examples we have found come from the late-90s. We discussed this with a prominent internet photo dealer. He insisted that were numerous examples, we think because he wanted 19th century dates to improve his sales. Our experience is that the change did not magically occur on Januaey 1, 1900, but the the number of 1890s examples are was rather limited. This of course is a little difficult to assess because so many of the cards are not dated, but the evidence of the dated images found give us a basic reference point. The chronological trend of cabinet cards can be easily followed as the photographic record is so extensive. The only problem is that most are undated. Througout the late-19th century we see cabinet cards with mostly the same size,shape and mount styles. This chaged at the turn-of-the century. We notice a few in the late-1890s. We do not notice these new style mounts in the early part of the decade. We see some cards begining to diverge somewhat in the mid-1890s. And we begin to see some of these cards at the end of the decade. We note this unidentified card from 1898 (figure 1). This card was 5 3/8" x 6 1/2 inches, similar in size to the standard 19th century cabinet cards. This is the earliest new style mount we have found so far. There may be earlier examples, but not much earlier as even late-1890s examples are rare. They were done in a great variety of shaps and sizes. Some were smaller than traditional cabnet cards and some were larger. Many had much larger margins andcardarea than the clsic style. There were also different shapes, such as squares. A good example is a portrait of Richard Lancaster Witzleben in 1899. It is a cream card with an indented frames and moddeled surface texture. We do not see many before this. But we see large numbers with the turn-of-the-century.

Chronology: Late-19th Century

New style cabinet card mounts appeared at the turn of the century with many different sizes and styles. We see varied sizes, both smaller and larger and different styles. While the change occurred rather suddenly at the turn-of-the century, we do see a few examples from the 1890s. They are a very small proportion of the decade photogrphs, mostly from the later-90s. We have not yet found examples from the 1880s and almost all the examples we have found come from the late-90s. We discussed this with a prominent internet photo dealer. He insisted that were numerous examples, we think because he wanted 19th century dates to improve his sales. Our experience is that the change did not magically occur on Januaey 1, 1900, but the the number of 1890s examples are was rather limited. This of course is a little difficult to assess because so many of the cards are not dated, but the evidence of the dated images found give us a basic reference point. The trend of cabinet cards can be easily followed as the photographic record is so extensive. The only problem is that most are undated. Througout the late-19th century we see cabinet cards with mostly the same size, shape and mount styles. This chaged at the turn-of-the century. We notice a few in the late-1890s. We do not notice these new style mounts in the early part of the decade. We see some cards begining to diverge somewhat in the mid-1890s. And we begin to see some of these cards at the end of the decade. The unidentified card here is a good example from 1898 (figure 1). This card was 5 3/8" x 6 1/2 inches, similar in size to the standard 19th century cabinet cards. This is the earliest new style mount we have found so far. There surely must be be earlier examples, but not much earlier as even late-1890s examples are rare.

Variation

They were done in a great variety of shaps and sizes and colors shifted. This is quite starteling give how similar the cards wre for over 30 years. And the studio logos changed. Some were smaller than traditional cabnet cards and some were larger. Many had much larger margins and card area than the classic style. There were also different shapes, such as squares. A good example is a portrait of Richard Lancaster Witzleben in 1899. It is a cream card with an indented frames and moddeled surface texture. We do not see many before this. But we see large numbers with the turn-of-the-century. Also a greenish grey color for the mounts became popular. There were some cards similar to the classic cards, but with the stidio information done differently.







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Created: 6:13 AM 1/25/2018
Last updated: 6:13 AM 1/25/2018