New American Cabinet Cards: Small Numbers in the 1890s

cabinet cards 1890s

Figure 1.-- This new style mount has texture framing, wide margins, and studio information in a small, very plain font. The portrait shows Richard Lancaster Witzleben in 1899. Many of the new style mounts did not have any studio informtion.

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.







HBC






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Created: 10:34 PM 2/24/2018
Last updated: 10:34 PM 2/24/2018