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

My name is Travis Dewitz and I am from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. My specialty is commercial photography with a love for expressive portraits. My work is Conceptual, Emotive, Editorial, Surreal and Eclectic. I am passionate about fashioning new worlds through photographs as I extend my visions beyond the realm of the camera. I have incredible vision, which you can see in all of my photos.

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