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Cartes de visite Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: [Summit record]
Date: Mar 1983

Biographical History

The carte de visite, sometimes hyphenated as carte-de-visite, was a type of small photograph which originated in France in the late 1850s and became immensely popular in both Europe and the United States. It consisted of a thin paper photograph (usually an albumen print) mounted on a thicker paper card, about the size of a modern-day playing card. Their popularity led to the production of cards with photographs of notable people, which were collected and traded.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Cartes de visite Collection Collection includes albumen prints, platinotypes, tintypes and several lithographs. Included are works by American, European, and Asian photographers: Abdullah Freres, E. & H.T. Anthony, Brady National Photographic Art Gallery, J.H. Bufford, Alexander Gardner, London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, William E. Marshall, Mora, A. Sachtler, and Napoleon Sarony. Subjects include celebrities, family portraits, indigenous peoples, soldiers, and travel photos from America, Europe, China, Japan, and the Malay Pennisula.

"Most of the pre-1867 images [in the Chinese and Japanese character titles] seem to have been taken by European photographers. About 1880-1885, cheap copy issues of both Chinese and Japanese series appeared in the market. These often bear titles in characters only, suggesting that they were intended for local distribution and not for sale in Europe or America." (Durrah, p. 64)

Arrangement of the Collection

Cards are divided into American and foreign; within that, the majority are arranged alphabetically by photographer. All items are in a single box.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Brady, Mathew B., approximately 1823-1896.
Bufford, J. H.
Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882.
Sachtler, A.
Sarony, Napoleon.
Walker, Mary Edwards, 1832-1919.

Corporate Bodies

Abdullah freĢ€res.
Brady's National Photographic Portrait Galleries.
E. & H.T. Anthony (Firm)
London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company.


Albumen paper.
Altered prints.
Carte de visite photographs.
Lithography -- 19th century.
Photograph collections.
Photography -- 19th century.
Portrait photography -- 19th century.
Travel photography.


United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Photography.

Genres and Forms

Albumen prints.
Platinum prints.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Cartes de visite Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents


Foreign countries (by photographer)

Foreign (by country or city)