What is a Cabinet Card?


I have recieved from some overseas Paper Artists, some Cabinet Cards, which are essentially vintage photos that were mounted onto thick card. Many artists decorate & alter these as an artform. They are just so beautiful though, I am struggling, so my first one is more ‘decorated or embellished’ rather than altered! I wrote to my dear friend & told her that ‘I have such a problem…..the cabinet cards arrived today, and, and, well……I adore them….I REALLY don’t think that I can bring Theyre_playing_our_song_webmyself to deface them….I don’t know what to do…..I haven’t seen anything so lovely.’ LOL……………….she replied ‘C’mon, they’re dingy and faded and beat up and friendless…give them some paint or poetry or fancy hats. Breathe life into them and share them with the world!!!

SO……..here is my first effort. CERTAINLY, more decorated & embellished, rather than altered, but I think I could catch a bug for this…………watch and wait!

Here is a more thorough description:
The Cabinet Card has the appearance of a larger version of the carte de visite, retaining the photographer’s imprint and shows similar styles of decorative artwork on the card face or back. Like the carte de visite, it consists of a paper photographic print mounted on commercially produced card stock of standard size. Despite the similarity, the cabinet format was used for landscape and vernacular views before it was adopted for portraiture and likely borrowed influences from both the "card photograph" (carte de visite) and stereographic views of the period. Styles of portraiture generally copy those of the carte de visite but take advantage of the larger image area. The majority of cabinet cards were albumen prints, but toward the end of the nineteenth-century other types of photographic paper began to replace albumen papers. The albumen images are yellow-brown or purple-blue in tone, a result of the common practice of gold toning ("sepia" tone includes the effects of yellowing and albumen fading in addition to the original tone). You may see cabinet card images from 1890s that have the appearance of a black and white photograph. These photographs exhibit what is called by photographic experts a neutral image tone and were likely produced on a matte collodion, gelatin or gelatin bromide paper. Sometimes images from this period can be identified by a greenish cast. Gelatin papers were introduced in the 1870s and started gaining acceptance in the 1880s and 1890s as the gelatin bromide papers became popular. Matte collodion was used in the same period. If you have a black and white image on cabinet card, it is likely to have been produced in the 1890s or after 1900. The last cabinet cards were produced in the twenties, perhaps as late as 1924.


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