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Cartes-de-Visite Collection
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Cartes-de-Visite Collection

  • Org. Lot 500
  • Collection
  • 1855 - 1897

Cartes-de-visite are a form of card photograph popular from around 1860 to the early 1900s, typically used for portraiture. The common construction of these cards consists of a thin albumen print mounted on a thicker card backing measuring 2.5 x 4 inches. André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri patented the process of creating these photo cards in Paris in 1854, streamlining the process of commercial portraiture and reducing costs with a method of taking eight separate negatives on a single plate. Initial commercial response to the cartes-de-visite was slow. They reportedly did not rise in popularity until Napoleon III had his portrait taken by Disdéri in 1859 after which enthusiasm for card photographs spread rapidly across the globe. In the United States, cartes-de-visite were a staple of commercial photographers during the Civil War as a means of selling inexpensive portraits of soldiers and their loved ones, and also photographs of celebrities for collecting and trading. Cartes-de-visite were superseded by Cabinet cards, a similar format but larger - roughly 4.5 x 6.5 inches, in the 1870's but they remained popular into the twentieth century.

The Oregon Historical Society’s Cartes-de-Visite Collection was accumulated from various sources. The collection includes photographs taken throughout the United States, including by many well known Oregon photography studios, from about 1855 through the early 1900s. Cartes-de-visite can be found in many other photo albums and individual photo collections in OHS holdings.

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