Friday, September 10, 2010

Carte de Visite, CDV, C.C. Shadle

In the first half of the nineteenth century, it was considered good manners to arrive with a visiting card, made of a heavy stock, with the visitors name printed out in a decorative script. But, that all changed in 1854 when French photographer, Andre Adolphe Disderi patented the carte de visite, an albumen print pasted on a heavy card stock sized to 4.5x6.5 inches. The size was chosen to be that of the visiting card, and it soon became the accepted thing to do to go with a photographic visiting card rather than one with fancy calligraphy. Soon a craze in Europe, by 1860, the first year of the Civil War, it had spread to the United States. With the war and the mass movement of people across the battle field, carte de visites became a way of sending photos home and to receive photos of family and friends in return. Unlike the daguerreotype or the ambrotype, which were printed on glass, the carte de visite could be sent through the mail without danger of breakage. Soon photo studios were selling carte de visites of celebrities. Both Lincoln and prominent actor John Wilkes Booth were big sellers. Since the carte was a standard size, it also became popular as an album photo. Collectors anywhere in the world could put carte de visites of family, friends, and famous in easily purchased albums designed with slots for the carte's standard size. While the carte de visite would remain in use for over two decades, it's popularity would be eclipsed in the early 1870s by the larger cabinet card. Also an albumen print pasted on heavy card stock. These two images are of the same young man, taken at the C. C. Shadle studio in Kittaning, PA.

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