Anonymous Carte-Sized Portrait Cabinet Card

Sometimes the reason you buy something is purely aesthetic – there doesn’t need to be an historical association, famous subject or famous photographer to make an image worth buying. This is an example of just that – a very handsome subject, simply captured, plainly presented. Is he part Native American? Hard to say, but he has a certain look about his nose and jawline.

Handsome Youth, Belfast, Maine
Handsome Youth, Belfast, Maine

This is an example, as I mentioned, of a carte-sized Cabinet Card. It is the same dimensions (2 1/2 x 4 1/2) as a carte de visite, but is printed on the heavier card stock with the beveled, gilt edges and the larger front imprint of the photographer’s logo typical of the Cabinet Card. Because of the style, I would definitely call this a Cabinet Card, and not a CDV, because the time period of its creation is definitely later, as are the material conditions of its composition.

3 thoughts on “Anonymous Carte-Sized Portrait Cabinet Card”

  1. I was wondering about that, since I have a number of these, too. They have the construction of a cabinet card while being the size of a CDV. Different sources seem to define and categorize them primarily by size, and yet I felt there ought to be some account taken for the nature of the materials, too. I figured I just need to do more research, so I’m glad you said something about it, since I was leaning towards calling them CDV-sized cabinet cards as well. In any case, I agree that pure beauty is a perfectly good reason to buy something.

    1. I think it’s one of those topics that never will have a definitive answer, because it’s not a cut-and-dry distinction. To me, it’s a Cabinet Card because unlike the CDV, the Cabinet Card came in a wide range of sizes and shapes, from the CDV-sized to the more-or-less-standard 4×6-ish, to some odd and exotic sizes and shapes like squares, and with frilled edges and fancy embossed surfaces. CDVs uniformly were 2 1/2 x 4 1/2, on (relatively) thin stock, and were generally pretty plain.

      1. I agree. I have some cabinet cards that are square with fancy edges and the image at an angle as if you’re looking at a diamond instead of a square. Such variety! Time to go with my instincts on some of these things a little more. lol Thanks for the reply.

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