What are CdV (Carte de Visite) Photographs?

One of the most popular forms of 19th Century photography was the CdV.  Short for  “Carte de Visite”, the cdv was a process of French origin.

First patented by photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri around 1854, they had a slow start. Around the turn of 1860, their popularity exploded.

The biggest draws to CdVs were: They were cheap, durable, and could be produced in mass.  This set off “cardomania” across the globe, and even had a hand in turning photographs into a “collectible” item.  CDVs were made of famous political figures, musicians, celebrities…you name it!  These were a hot collectible commodity of the time.

The feature that make a huge difference between the CdVs competitors, like the Ambrotype and Tintype, is that it is an Albumen Print.  Being a paper product made the mass production a lot more feasible and less costly. People could easily send the photos in the mail to loved ones, which also made it a popular format for soldiers during the American Civil War.

For more in-depth reading on CdVs, check our these great sources:

How to Spot a CdV

The First Photography Craze

Phototree – Carte de Visite