Dating 19th century photographs

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Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes-de-visites (now commonly called cdvs), and cabinet cards.

Perhaps you’ve seen them in an archival collection or museum, or seen modern reproductions at a Civil War reenactment. Wherever you may have encountered them, know that archivists in the MARAC region could not have a better guide to the fascinating world of 19 century portrait photographs than Gary Saretzky, archivist in the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office in Manalapan, New Jersey.

The last cabinet cards were produced in the 1920s, even as late as 1924.

Owing to the larger image size, the cabinet card steadily increased in popularity during the second half of the 1860s and into the 1870s, replacing the carte de visite as the most popular form of portraiture.

For example, during the Civil War in 1864, Congress instituted a tax on various goods in order to defray the government’s war debts.

The goods ranged from perfumes and cosmetics to cigar lights, wax tapers, playing cards and photographs, namely ambrotypes, cdvs, tintypes, and daguerreotypes.

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