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Cabinet Card

From George Eastman House : Notes On Photographs

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Introduced in the early 1860s, the cabinet-card format featured a 4 x 5-1/2 inch print on a 4-1/4 x 6-1/2 inch mount. It was used primarily for studio portraiture, although views can occasionally be found. Prints mounted in this format were made on albumen paper, collodion-chloride printing-out paper, developed-out silver bromide gelatin paper, and gelatin chloride printing-out paper. Along with the carte de visite, cabinet cards were very popular until the end of the century, often sharing space in the family album. [1]


The cabinet card, a popular format for nineteenth-century photographs, is a photograph mounted on heavy card stock and measures approximately 6-1/2 x 4-1/4 inches. Cabinet cards are usually studio portraits, and cabinet cards of celebrities, a favorite subject, were widely collected in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The format was introduced in 1866 and soon surpassed the smaller carte-de-visite format in popularity. Cabinet cards lost much of their popularity after 1900 and largely disappeared by the end of World War I.


  1. Osterman, Mark. 2007. Cabinet Photograph. In The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography: Digital Imaging, Theory and Applications, History, and Science, ed. Michael R. Peres, 50, Focal Press.

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