Like the carte de visite, the cabinet card consists of a paper print mounted on a card stock. The card usually had the photographer's imprint and some decorative touches. The standard size was 6½ x 4½ inches. The card mounting gave added support and protection to the photograph, so many cabinet cards remain in existence. The cabinet card format for use in portrait photography actually appeared in 1866, but it did not reach its peak until the 1880s and began to wane in the 1890s. Although some may have been produced as late as 1924, they are infrequent after the 1900s.
The date of a cabinet card may be estimated by the color of the card, type of border, and type of corner. Don't forget, though, that the image may be a reproduction of a much earlier photograph. Other mount sizes appeared at various times. These include the Boudoir card (5¼ x 8½ inches), the Imperial card (6-7/8 x 9-7/8 inches) and the Panel card (8¼ x 4 inches).
Visit the City Gallery online to learn more about cabinet cards.
This page copyright March 2001 by Susan Goss Johnston.