We intend to develop some guidelines for dating CDVs. Here we are somewhat limited because many of the CDVs we have archived are undated. We intend to begin assessing those CDVs that are dated. One guideline is that many of the early CDVs did not have printed lettering identifying the studio. Our general assessment is that the CDVs without printing are probably from the 1860s or 70s. An example here is an undated CDV of an American boy, Dan Brown. We would guess it was taken in the 1870s. We note many different colors of mounts, lettering, and border styles. We also note square and rounded corners. We do not yet know the chronological range for these different factos, but will begin to archive the full cards in this section in an effort to devlop some chronological indicators. This is quite a complicated undertaking, in part because the trends may have varied from country to country. While we have found many different CDV mounts, the problem is tht most are not dated and we can only use dated mounts to build a reliable list of chronological indicators.m The mounts are important, but they are not the only indicators.
One guideline is that many of the early CDVs did not have printed lettering identifying the studio. Our general assessment is that the CDVs without printing are probably from the 1860s or 70s. An example here is an undated CDV of an American boy, Dan Brown. We would guess it was taken in the 1870s. These cards might have rules, but not printed lettering on the front. Often they did hve printed lettering on the back, although the printing on the back was very basic for early cards. A good example is an American boy in 1865. We note quite a few cards from the 1860s that had blank fronts. This was much less common for later mounts. Many of the blank fronts did have studio information on the front, but many were also blank on the back.
We note quite a range of CDV mount styles. Some CDV fronts were very basic. We notice that some English mounts during the 1870s were very basic with just the studio and city printed in block letters. The studio at the left and the city at the right. This was very common in England. We know less about other countries. Other mounts were fancier, looking like small cabinent cards. We see the studio and city done with fancy, often elaborately scrolled fonts. We also notice mounts with artistic designs.
We notice cream colored mounts from England in the 1870s.
The American 1864 CDV here had red lettering. We notice English CDVs from the 1870s with brownish-red and black lettering.
There were many different types of borders. We have just begun to collect some of the different variations. The popularity of the different styles varied iver time and perhaps by country. The various border rules varied in number and width. And there were different colors. There was also guilding. We note an American CDV at a very early date which had double thin line red borders (figure 1). We believe this card was made in 1864. That date is based on the copyright, so it could have been a year or two later, but we know it was a Civil War-era card, because the back has a Federal revenue stamp. The border on the back was different from that on the front.
The corners are helpful in dating CDVs. We have not yet, however, worked up a precise chronology. Rounded corners appear to have become standard from a very early point. The first CDVs seem to hsve had sharp corners. Notice the 1864 card here with rounded corners (figure 1). We still see sharp coerners in the 860s, but bt the early 70s virually all CDVs had rounded corners. We note both square abd rounded corners in England during the 1870s.
The poseing for CDVs seem substatially different than that for earlier formzts like Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. The subjects in these earlier types were usually posed seated because with slow emulsion speeds, it was easier to hold still when seated. The faster speeds with the albumen process mean erect standing up postures were possible, albeit with support stands. These portraits in the 1860s often do not fill the image with the subject. As such they seem less intimate that the dag and ambro images. We are not sure why this convention developed. We believe that usage in albums with oval mounts may have been a factor. The 1860s portraits often pose the subject standing in a very sparcely furished set with plain backgrounds. The 1870s posed are more varied. Elaborate backgrounds and more intimate poses with fully furnished sets are commons. We are less sure about 1880s ad 1890s poses. Generally speakng, the CDV went out of style in Amerca dyring the 1880s. Most Ameruican portraits we have found are cabinent cards. The CDV was, however, still common in Europe.
The first CDvs in the 1860s were either posed like Daguerreotypes with individuals sitting by a table covered with a cloth or were sasnding in what looks rather like a large empty room and blank wall. By the 1870s we begin to see more complicated backgrounds. CDVs become muc less common by the late-1870s as the caninet card became the dominant formast in Ameica. CDVs continued to popular in Europe for a longer period. The backgrounds like those for CDVs becom oncreasingly busy, even garish.
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