Antique Photo Types

Posted by | · · · | Antique Photographs

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 Visite

Carte de Visite

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 Photo H.M.S. Pinafore

Cabinet Photo H.M.S. Pinafore

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.

Stereograph - 1906 Duck Hunting

Stereograph - 1906 Duck Hunting

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.

Fancy Daguerreotype case

Fancy Daguerreotype case


Jean says:

December 8, 2008 at 1:10 pm

I found an antique photo of a young boy (approx 10-12)in a uniform. His hat appears to have some type of tassle at the top with decorations on the shoulders. He has 8 buttons and a gold belt. He is holding some type of scroll in his right hand and a sword in his left at his side. It is in a frame with wooden boards and nails to hold it in place. The glass is missing. Do you have any feedback?

Genesis says:

December 21, 2008 at 4:09 am

Nice! i`ll be stopping by from time to time ;)

George says:

May 5, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Dear Jean,

The photo of the boy is more than likely a military school photo which is fairly common in the 1880s – 1890s. We would be interested in seeing the photo. Feel free to send a copy of the photo to our email

Tammy says:

May 20, 2009 at 8:25 pm

A few years my father, who resides in Germany, purchased pictures from an older man at a yard sale. These pictures are about WWII, taken in the 40′s. They have dates and times and are pictures of the war in the Nazi camps. They are extremely detailed and many of them are well preserved. I was wondering if these photos had any value?

Jesse Hoots says:

September 14, 2009 at 11:40 am

Hello … I found a profesionally prepared photo album in a box in my house while working on it. Has 50 photos. Photos were taken in 1895 or 1900. I know for a fact this is so. All photos are 7.75″x5.5″ approx. I showed them to the Historical Society. They demand them!! I feel compelled to give them to them but was wondering thier possible value. The photos are from Lincoln, Ill where A. Lincoln first practiced law. The town was named after him. One of the photos is of the Postville Courthouse where Lincoln tried his first cases. Other photos are from all over Logan Co, Ill. All buildings where everyone came out to get thier photo taken. Amazing!! Photos look like they were taken yesterday, they are that good. The album they are in is falling apart though. What should I do with them? Thanks, Jesse

George says:

September 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Thank you for your comment. First of all, I hope that you have NOT given these to the Historical Society yet ! They always want to get their hands on nice items for free and try to “guilt trip” you into a donation. Unless you have so much income that you need the right offs, you would be well advised to look further into the values of these photos. You more than likely have a group of “cabinet card” photos. If they show the scenes of the people and their homes and buildings, these could be worth in the neighborhood of $50. – $100. each. They could very well be the only copies in existence. We suggest that if you wanted to make a donation to the Historical Society, you could give them scanned copies of them on nice quality photo paper. This will give them the data they need without your losing the photos.

We would be happy to give you values of the photos.

Jesse Hoots says:

October 1, 2009 at 8:12 am

Hello … I sent an email with the link to view these photos. If it does not work, just let me know. I’ll do it again. Thanks, Jesse

joe says:

October 7, 2009 at 7:45 pm

have two tintype photos of a child. Think its circa 1860. Know they are related. what do ya think they’re worth

George says:

October 13, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Hello Joe,

The tintypes are probably worth about $15 to $30 each.

Maria Lanides says:

October 26, 2009 at 11:29 am

Hav hard blak Union case w/3 dimens border on frt/bk. Oval area w/Mother holdng fmale child & dog inside bordr design. Red velvet w/light color beviled design on inside top cover. 2 hard shiny removabl photo frames w/designs in metal inside btom covr. L empty – R area w/notice stating AP Critchlow & Co are origninal inventors of Daguerreotype Cases – Hinge patented 1856. Incl April 21,189 hnd written @ bottom. (Used abbreviations.) Can anyone direct me to find value of this case.

tara says:

April 7, 2010 at 5:01 am

I’m going through some of my late grandfathers ww2 items. Is there anyway to tell if photographs from this period are original or copies made later? I know some of them have velux on the back which I think dates to this period but some have no marking. He also has photographs of planes that would be earlier, probably ww1. They don’t look like modern photographs but I don’t know how to date them. Any advice would be helpful, thank you.

Lidia says:

February 26, 2012 at 12:19 am

Hello, I found a picture about wallet size. It is on some type of metal, no frame the image is black and white, it is a woman and child sitting on a chair or maybe carriage… not sure lady has big black hat and child has bonnet with dress… also not sure picture is a little bent on edges. I was looking to see what type of picture this is if anyone has any information that might be helpful. Thank you : )

George says:

February 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Hello Lidia,

It sounds like it is a Tintype.

We would be interested in seeing the photo. Feel free to send a copy of the photo or any other information to our email

Tabatha Van Meter says:

June 22, 2012 at 9:31 am

Can someone tell me what type of photo frame this is?

scott Hendershot says:

August 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I have a daguerreotype with two relatives of my wife’s Itook the right side picture real carefull only to find two dates one in print hinge patented Oct. 14 1865 and another in pencil april21 1857.Dose this make my worth money?

George says:

January 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Hello Tabatha,

The photo looks like a hinged Daguerreotype frame from the 19th century.

George says:

January 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Hello Scott,

It is hard to say without seeing the photos.
They are probably worth about $15 to $30 each.

Feel free to send a copy of the photos to our email

June says:

January 26, 2013 at 6:48 pm


I have an old photo of my great-grandmother,
and – it’s hard to describe; I can’t find it on eBay or Google or anywhere – mainly because I don’t know what it’s called. It’s like, encased or laminated (?) in some kind of hard plastic frame; it is NOT a new framing: this is original and is likely pre- or circa 1898, as it is a youngish photo of my grandmother’s mother, and my grandmother was born in 1898.

The “frame” (mounting?) is some kind of dark brown plastic (or light metal? sorry, I don’t have it in front of me) and frames the oval-cut photo. The entire contraption has a metal wire-type (not solid) fold-out stand behind.

I wish I could explain it better, and I’m not sure exactly where it is right now (put away somewhere in this big old house). But it is all one piece, and as I said, looks almost like it’s laminated, as there is no separation between the photo and the framing material.

Please help! lol


June :)

June says:

January 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm


Sorry – the actual point is, I mainly would like to know what this type of photo/frame is called. I’m not planning to sell it or anything, because it is personal. Thank you!

June :)

June says:

January 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Sorry, one more detail: I just found something similar on eBay, but mine seems to be a larger size (around 7″ tall x 4 – 5″ wide or so).

Here: Item # 261150719253 (completed listing).

It seems to be called a button or plaque?

Also: Item # 160960778365 (active listing)

I apologize for all the posts; I just would never have thought to call it a “button”.

June :)

George says:

February 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm

You probably have a Celluloid item.. They were popular in the late 1880s – 1930s. They were made in many colors and were used for frames, collars, hair brush handles etc.

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