Antique Photo Types
The world of collecting antique photos can sometimes be confusing. There are several types of antique photos. We will try to help clarify the types here for you.
CASED IMAGES – This category generally represents the earliest types of photography. These include:
Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and Tintypes. These photos date from 1839 – 1869
Daguerreotypes – Photo produced on a copper plate coated with silver.
Ambrotype – A negative image produced on a glass plate and viewed as a positive with the
addition of a black paper backing.
Tintype – A negative image on a thin iron plate with a black varnish to create a positive
All three types of these images were normally inserted into individual cases for protection. Among the most highly sought after photos from this era are real Civil War scenes, men in uniform and early village scenes.
CARTE DE VISTE – (carte de visite) – Visiting Card. A photographic print generally measuring 2 1/2 x 3 1/2
inches and mounted on a card 2 1/2″ x 4″. These photos date from 1854 – 1905. As with
any photos, the collectors value will be determined by the subject matter. Popular collector
types include men in military uniforms, hunting scenes, people working at their trades eg.
candle maker, cook, glass blower etc. , political luminaries, railroads, villages and American Indians. Queen Victoria was an avid collector.
CABINET CARDS – A photographic print attached to a cardboard mount. These came in many sizes and
were popular from 1863 – 1920s. Most of the cabinet cards that you will find will have
only a family sentimental value. Again, the subject matter will determine the value of
these photos. War scenes are alway highly collected. Personalities of note, town and city
scenes, outlaws, storm damage, train wrecks etc. The normal photo of “mom and dad” has
little if any value.
STEREOGRAPHS – Two identical photographs mounted on a cardboard backing for use in a view to create a
3-D scene. These date from 1851 – 1930s. There are many surviving stereographs . The
popular scenes are of military actions, Spanish American War, Boer War, WWI . There are
many sets and series including around the world scenes in a set of over 300 photos.
Some of the rarest and most sought after scenes are from the old West, Indians etc. and
can bring values in the hundreds and thousands of dollars. Again – subject matter is the
Feel free to email us with any questions or comments. We hope this has been of some help.