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Dating the Carte de Visite (1858 - 1872)

Article and photographs courtesy of MiPHS ranking member, Bill Christen. February 20, 2019.

During the 1860s there were two types of card mounted photographs available to the public--the stereograph and the carte de visite (CdV). Since their introduction in the United States around 1858, card mounted photographs became a popular and fairly inexpensive feature of the material culture. They soon became popular as objects to be collected for memory and amusement, than as tools of etiquette (the calling card - see image below). They served as objects to be collected and shared. Today they still serve that purpose, but most importantly to historians, they serve as a visual record of clothing, hairstyles, and objects. Because the cards often contained identifying information of the source, sometimes the subject, and even the date, they are extremely useful tools of study.

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