A 19th-Century Cincinnati-Manufactured Picture Exhibitor

Author: Scott Gampfer, Associate Vice President for Collections and Preservation Introduced to the United States from Europe in the late 1850s, the carte-de-visite or calling card photographic format soon became wildly popular. The small size and inexpensive nature of the card images brought them within reach of ordinary people. Since the images were printed from a glass plate negative, it was possible for customers to get as many copies of an image as desired. It also became popular to collect carte-de-visite images of celebrities and exotic or famous locales. So popular was demand for carte-de-visite images that the phenomenon was sometimes called “cartomania.” The idea of creating photographic albums also became popular, and suppliers sold albums specifically designed to hold cartes-de-visite. One inventor, Charles Robinson of Massachusetts, received a patent in April 1865 for a clever device that allowed the viewing of dozens of […]