Early Celeberity Photographs

Figure 1.--This celberity cabinet card shows Tommy Russel who was playing the role of Little Lord Fauntleroy on the New York and other big city theaters. The card is undated, but was pribably made in the 1890s. It was taken at the Sarony Studio, the most important New York studio. They did large numbers of celeberty cards.

Photographers played a major role in extending the popularity of celeberity. The multiple printings possible with the negatives used to make CDVs meant that photographers could sell images of celeberties to the public and collecting these images became a popular hobby. It is unclear to what extent celeberties themselves benfitted or even approved of the early sles of these cards. The Battlefield Children were an example of an early celeberty card, in this case done for charity. Theater and music stars eventually had cards made for sale or publicity distribution to fans. These cards were made in both the CDV and cabinet cards. The earliest celeberity cards wre CDVs, but by the 1870s you find increasing numbers of celeberity cabinet cards. Some studios were especially know for their celeberity portraits. These were the established studio in the big cities of course where celebeities were most likely to have their portaits made. Some of the most important were: Nadar (Paris) and Sarony (New York). No having celeberity clients did not stop many studios. Some studios even copied cards made by other studios and sold them. It took a while for copyright law to be developed. Not having the negatives meant that the quality was inferior. Many people would simply insert these celberity cards into their own family albums. A few took it more seriously and had whole abums of celeberity portraits.


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Created: May 4, 2003
Last updated: 7:49 PM 2/17/2008