Cabinet cards are fascinating. They give us this glimpse of people as they were, in fashions of the time. There’s a clarity to most examples that makes them difficult to look away from. I sometimes feel like I’m going to run into these people when I’m out in the world, even though they’ve (probably) been dead for a century.
I love cabinet cards because of the details. I get to see what these fashions looked like on people instead of on a mannequin in a museum, including the hairstyles of the time. It isn’t just rich people represented in these photographs, it’s everybody. Getting a photograph taken wasn’t quite as expensive as some folks may lead you to believe.
Presentation was very different back then. There was a good chance your photographer would have a fancy backing on your picture, with an elaborate advertisement for their studio. They could present your photograph to you in a lovely frame, as below.
Notsomuch framed as pasted onto a fancy card, I suppose. Look at those edges, the stippling, the embossed bits—so pretty! And that child was very distracted. Imagine trying to get a baby to remain still for any longer than three seconds.
These images are from the Cabinet Card Bundle that is up for sale in my shop, which is made up of 40+ high-quality images scanned from my collection. Cabinet cards, cabinet card frames, and the photographer logos.