Vintage Pic Sizes, Shapes & Styles
Regardless of how washed-out or otherwise unidentifiable the subject matter may be, most of the time, you can still extract some information about a vintage photograph's origin simply by knowing a little about the history of photography. Here are some photo-themed genealogy resources to help you and everyone else on your family tree dig down to your roots!
vintage photo formats for GENEALOGY RESEARCH
History of Photography methods/processes
Postcard printing processes in close-up
Categorized vintage photo collections
Dating vintage photographs by image format
Cartes de Visite (CDV)
The carte de visite was an extremely popular style of photograph that hit the US in 1860. The format was quite small, however, which led to it being pretty much replaced by the larger cabinet cards about a decade later. A carte de visite image was 2-1/8" x 3-1/2", and was mounted on a 2-1/2" x 4" card.
Cabinet cards were the go-to style for portraits starting in about 1866, and they remained a dominant choice for formal photographs for nearly 20 years. (See an example at right.)
The name "cabinet card" is thought to have been used because they were considered to be the ideal size for displaying in the home (in or on a cabinet). The wafer-thin photo layer was mounted on a piece of cardstock measuring 4-1/4" x by 6-1/2". Typically, some space was left at the bottom of the card so there was room for the photographer's insignia to appear.
Real photo postcards (RPPC)
The real photo postcard format was essentially just a picture printed on a blank postcard, but was very popular — and affordable — as the photos could be shot with the first mass-produced pocket camera, the Kodak 3A. The finished product (three examples at right) measured 3-1/2" x 5-1/2".
Info about mounted photos (multiple types)
More helpful references:
Film dating resources
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