Unique Antique Cabinet Card Portraits

November 3, 2012 Travis Dewitz


Cabinet cards are a type of photograph that was used commonly for portraiture from the 1870’s through the 1890’s.  Cabinet cards were commonly made with a thin photograph that was generally mounted on cards measuring 4¼ by 6½ inches. I collect the more unique and interesting cabinet cards and other very old portraits to study the photo techniques that photographers once commonly used. I also like to study the portraits and how people and families interacted with each other. For example men in this time in history were much closer physically with each other and even held hands. Smiling with teeth showing was also very rare in the portraits that I have come across. Another common photo subject that you don’t see much anymore were photos of funeral altars, open caskets, and deceased family members. I also noticed that they pose children much more like adults and love having them stand on chairs. The girls little leather boots are very adorable along with their finely detailed dresses. I also love how dressed up the men would get in their suits or tuxedos for their portraits, which we don’t see quite as often anymore. The photo studios props, chairs, and backdrops are also very neat to see which I am sure were somewhat common place back then.

The popular and affordable  Kodak Box Brownie camera introduced in 1900 made it accessible for the public to take their own photos which caused popularity of the cabinet card to declined. There are many ways to date cabinet cards but one way is by looking at the photography studio’s name and location printed on the bottom or back of the cards. From 1866-1879 the photographer’s name and address was often printed small and neatly just below the image, and/or studio name printed small on back. From the 1880s on, large and ornate text of the photographer’s name and address, especially in cursive style, was used. The studio name would often take up the entire back of the card. In the late 1880’s through the 1890’s gold text was often used to embellish the cards. From the 1890’s on you will often find the studio name or other designs embossed into the card. Enjoy the rest of the images below. If I get enough feedback and likes on this post, I will post another collection of very old and unique portraits and cabinet cards that I own.


Vintage Cabinet Card Aficionados Series + Vintage Photos


travis dewitz pines portrait suit thumb web PhotographMy name is Travis Dewitz and I am from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I love photography. It lightens my heart, fills my soul, and allows me to capture life the way that I see it. I specialize in these three areas of photography; CorporatePortraits, and Youth Modeling. These three areas that I offer fit my strengths and keen precision I have for these art forms. I believe the most important quality of a photograph, as in all art, is to evoke an emotional response. The bold pursuit of chasing the best one yet pushes me to continually evolve my photography vision; with precision, compassion and visual drama. ~ learn more about me.

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Travis Dewitz

I. Love. Photography. I love it. It lightens my heart, fills my soul, and allows me to capture life the way that I see it. I constantly yearn to show life in a way that hasn’t been seen before, to bring images to people in a fresh and innovative way. My favorite focus in photography, my specialty I guess you would say, is Railroad Photography & Art. Something about the rumbling of these great, big, beautiful machines. The way they shake the earth beneath you as they rumble by, how they invade your chest and you can feel the rumble inside you. The plumes of heat on a hot day represented in a heat wave. Snaking through a western valley, void of trees or any other distracting element. Just the train, by itself, in it’s own inexplicable beauty and power. From the time I was a child, they have captured my imagination. I’ve recently gotten into portraiture a bit, and I want to bring some of my experiences with trains to that arena. To capture the power of a person, the sadness, loneliness, omniscience, pride, love, & carefree spirit in a way that hasn’t been done before. I want people to look at themselves in a photograph I have taken, and see a side of themselves that they think no one else has ever seen. Dewitz Photography is all about capturing a moment in a way that has never been seen before, capturing a beauty that some never knew was even there.

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