Cabinet photo dating

10-May-2015 22:23

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The only way to get the price down to below the level of the customer's local printer, would be by economies of scale - ie: print alot of the same design and try to sell them to everyone - this they tried to do using muted colour cards with a simple border - a coloured line set in from the edge with rotating square shapes in the four corners, at the bottom in small print was Marion Imp, Paris.The first I can find was produced for Mayall of 224 Regent Street, London c.1870 (see image of Rotating Corners) and they used the same border later for A & G.of Soho Square, London, who by 1866 were employed handling the wholesale publishing of the sale of 'famous people' carte de visites, for the top London studio of Mayall (some say that Marion introduced the carte format to Britain in 1857).By 1870 Marion were making the backs for sale to photographers, and must have had travelling salesmen pushing their product to the smaller studios using a standard catalogue of designs.A few started to have the photographers name printed on the back in a very simple way, probably pushed into it by the printer who was not getting any work out of this - so simple print did not add much to the cost of the card.Within a few years what was written on the back became a status symbol with royal crowns, indicating royal patronage, medals won at Exhibitions and so on.

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23 Soho Square, London, were publishing cartes for Southwell Brothers of 16 & 22 Baker Street W.

Unfortunately very few photographs have reliable dates with them, so this has had to wait until I had enough information and a feel for what date a photo might be before attempting this. For those who have never thought about it, here are my thoughts about the backs, (mount, card or cardstock).

At first in1859 to about 1862 a format of size (4 + 2/16 inch by 2 + 8/16 inch - length varies - width does not) had been established for the card and a photographer went to a local printer and have some made.

These were simple blanks with no name or anything on them.

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On the back of a Victorian photograph - at the bottom - may be some tiny printed writing, this was the company that printed the card and supplied the cardstock to the photographer. I have long thought that there may be some order in all this if it was all sorted out by year. London, and in c.1866 producing cartes wholesale for Mayall of Regent Street) The backs of carte de visite (cdv) and cabinet cards from the period 1859 to 1908 (cabinet from the 1870s) are a riot of designs and colours.