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So, in the spirit of collaborative genealogy, I offered to do some research and investigate.
Cabinet cards are a style of photograph that were popular during the 1870s to early 1900s.
Keep in mind that unless someone was kind enough to write the date the photo was taken on the cabinet card, it will be difficult to pinpoint it exactly. ) method, and Occam's razor (abbreviated to"the scientific principle that, all things being equal, the simplest answer is usually the right one" - made famous by Jodie Foster in the movie "Contact").
But, with a little patience, you can narrow it down within a few years and gain more precision based on other clues including: other photos of the individual, clothing, background details, life events and more. Since most cabinet card clues have rather broad date ranges, with lots of overlap, I prefer to restrict my search to the photographer details as there are fantastic records of where and when they worked.
Made popular in England by Victoria and Albert, many photographs were shot in one sitting and there was a craze called Cartemania with people collecting and swapping cards of the famous, showing that Pokemon isn't a recent fashion.
Some of these photographs may be included in your collections so, if you see Queen Victoria next door to Great great Auntie Flo, it doesn't mean that she came around for tea or that you are related, sorry about that.
Their predecessor was a smaller card, about 2.125 inches x 3.5 inches, known as cartes de visite or CDV that was popular around 1854 to 1870.
These were produced from an underexposed glass negative which was then covered with a backing of black velvet or shellac. Originally known in Britain as collodion positives they were better known by their American name of Ambrotypes.
Pictures are normally clear and sharp and when moved under light they can be seen to revert to their negative effect.
These were introduced in England in 1858 and, although their heyday was in the 1860s they continued to be popular until the end of the century.
The paper picture, normally an albumen print, measured about 3 x 2 and was pasted on a photographers trade card to give a finished size of about 4 x 2.
I have made a note of a number of websites for my own research that I hadn’t thought of before.