From Mathew Brady's Civil War photos to Ansel Adams' landscapes to Irving Penn's magazine shots, antique and vintage photographs are highly collectible. Photography was introduced in the U.S. in 1839, and immediately became popular.

Daguerreotypes dominated the field of photography until the mid-1850s. A daguerreotype is a copper plate covered with a thin layer of polished silver that looks like a mirror when held at a certain angle. By the mid-1840s, they were affordable for the average person, and it is therefore relatively easy to find old daguerreotypes today. Most daguerreotypes were studio portraits, where the subject posed for the photograph at the photographer's studio. Daguerreotypes featuring outdoor or street scenes are far rarer.

In the mid-1850s, ambrotypes replaced the daguerreotype. An ambrotype is a negative that has been put on glass and placed against a black background to make it look like a positive. Ambrotypes were popular until the 1890s. Another example of a cased image like the daguerreotype or ambrotype is the tintype, which was patented in 1856 and was made using a thin sheet of iron.

Stereoviews, also known as stereographs, were also created in the late 1850s and reached a peak of popularity in the 1870s. Stereoviews were cheap photographs that simulated a 3D view. In the 1880s, various companies decided to mass-market stereoviews that featured pictures of foreign locations to homes and schools. Stereoviews remained popular throughout the early 1900s.

In 1859, the carte de visite, which had been created in France, was introduced to the U.S. The carte de visite, or CDV, was a 2.5 inch by 4 inch print made of paper. As it was more affordable than previous forms of photography, it was accessible to a wider group of people. Many Civil War soldiers had their photographs taken and printed as a CDV.

Real photo postcards are another popular form of photographic print. Real photo postcards were made by developing a photograph onto postcard-sized photo paper with a postcard backing. They are still made today.

The most popular paper photographic print is the gelatin silver print, or black and white photograph. Gelatin silver prints have a long lifespan if well-maintained. Most 20th cen...

Scarcity, condition, and the identity of the photographer and subject all play a role in determining the value of antique and vintage photographs. Some examples of popular (and collectible) photographers include Lewis Hine, Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith, Danny Lyon, Paul Outerbridge, Jr., and the photographers associated with the Farm Security Administration, such as Ben Shahn, Dorothea Lange, and Walker Evans.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Collection of Collections

Collection of Collections

Jack and Beverly Wilgus' personal collection website, of which the most interesting areas are: strongmen and strong… [read review or visit site]

Square America

Square America

If you like vernacular photographs of everyday 20th century life, you'll love Square America, a collection of onlin… [read review or visit site]

Wisconsin Historical Images

Wisconsin Historical Images

The Wisconsin Historical Society has really outdone themselves with these excellent galleries focused on the 1880s-… [read review or visit site]

Cliff House Project

Cliff House Project

Gary Stark’s encyclopedic website is dedicated to photos and historical information on San Francisco’s legendar… [read review or visit site]

Time Tales

Time Tales

An amazing compilation of found photographs divided up by era (pre-1930, 1930-1950, 1950-1970, 1970-1990, and 1990-… [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

A Very Unusual German Folding Stereoviewer - Stereo Viewer StereoscopeLarge 1927 Louise Brooks Severe Bob Flapper Portrait Photograph George HommelVintage 1950s Pin Up Color Transparency Photograph Sexy Jane Russell 8x10 RisqueWwii Named Engraved Air Medal - 3rd Photo Recon Sqdn. -mint !Ca 1860's Civil War 6th Plate Tintype Double Armed Union Infantry SoldierMahogany Stereoviewer By Unis Paris France - Stereo Viewer Stereoscope1920s Alfred Cheney Johnston Oversized Forest Nymph Nude In Hoop Photograph RareStar Trek #1 Cgc 9.0 Ow/w Photo Cover Gold Key Silver Age Comic Tv MovieAntique 1/4 Plate Ruby Ambrotype Of Civil War Soldier Captain Richard LowryLeather Squadron Patch Us Army Air Corps 3rd Photo Recon.- Id'd !'64 Marlene Dietrich Edinburgh Festival Photograph Peter Basch Large Hand SignedVintage Maude Fealy Pictorialist Photograph Rudolf Eickemeyer Art Nouveau C 1910Walt Disney. 'hand Signed' 8" X 10" Photograph + Original EnvelopeCa 1860's Civil War 1/6 Plate Ambrotype Early War Zouave Soldier W/patriotic MatBlack Woman African American 1850s Ambrotype Photo Gold Jewelry & Puffy SleevesRare Carole Lombard 1930s Art Deco Glamour Portrait Photograph Hollywood RegencyBeatles Vintage Early 1970's George Harrison Signed Photo! Frank Caiazzo CoaCirca 1860's Civil War 1/9th Plate Tintype Armed Union Infantry SoldierCirca 1860's Early Civil War 1/9 Plate Ambrotype 2 X Armed Union SoldierRare Important Antique C.1915-1920 Chinese Photo Album. Trip To China. BuildingsPeter Basch 1950s Photograph Fine Art Erotic Nude Figure Model Large Format Rare1962 Barbara Eden Bathing Beauty Blonde Bombshell Photograph Cheesecake Pin UpPhilippe Halsman Vintage Marilyn Monroe Iconic Life Outtake Double Weight PhotoHalf Plate Daguerreotype Woman In Excellent Leather Travelling Case1872 President Grant Ribbon With Photo And Eagle Pin Holder. Quarter Plate Tintype Of Union SoldierEarly Young 1930s Lucille Ball Photograph Pin Up Art Deco Very Rare LipstickShirley Temple Signed Vintage Photo W/ Early Signature +original EnvelopeS. Yamamota Peking China Chinese Woman Photo Cabinet Card (c. 1890s)Bonnet Lady With Red Flowers In Hair & Pink Bow Dag Daguerreotype1934 Rare Bela Lugosi Moody Horror Portrait Photograph Large Format Carl DevoyLarge 1860’s Thermoplastic Mutable Image Union Case - Named - Illinois1872 Horrace Greeley Eagle Photo Pin For President Rare Autographed Gt-h Shelby Collectible Hertz Photo Book Joan Crawford Signed Photo From 1940 W/original Mailing Envelope Oscar Winner1920s Ziegfeld Follies Mary Nolan Imogene Bubbles Wilson Nude Photograph Rare NrAlbum Lot 600+ Vintage Pre-ww 2 Photos Germany Nazi Era 400+postcards Uk/germany Antique Keystone Paragon Stereoscope Viewer W 135 Asst Stereoview CardsWinner-debut [ Launching Edition ] All Members. [official] Photo Card Full Set1917 Theda Bara Cleopatra Erotic Silent Film Vamp Photograph Witzel Rare Vintage1910 Color & Photo Illustrated €Csa Photo Cdv General Pierce M.b.young Augusta,ga Backmark Rare Image? Look!!!!350+ Viewmaster Reels Lot Sawyers, Gaf, Personal, Travel, Disney, View-master Stan Lee Signed Autographed Marvel Universe 16x20 Photo Stan Lee HologramHedy Lamarr Autographed Photo With Original Envelope From M.g.m.Ginger Rogers Signed Photo From 1937 With Original Envelope From R.k.o.studiosRare Image Quadriplegic Alfred Pilgrim Circus Sideshow Freak Cabinet Card 1890 Elvis Presley Black And White Photo AutographedStan Lee The Hulk Signed Authentic 16x20 Photo Marvel Comics Autographed Psa/dnaGeorge Strait Worn Jacket And Autographed Photo Alexander Gardner Antietam Tintype Gen. Caldwell And His Staff Civil WarAbraham Lincoln - 16th U.s. President - Alexander Gardner Cdv PhotographEdwin Bower Hesser Photo Erotic Art Deco Nude 2 Flapper Girls California CoastLarge Format 1946 Gene Tierney Exquisite Beautiful Photograph Regal Vintage RareMark Hamill Star Wars "luke Skywalker" Signed 8x10 Photo Psa/dna #l794671968 Candice Bergen Risque Pin Up Mod Fashion Magazine Photograph Peter BaschVintage Large 1930s Loretta Young Elmer Fryer Photograph Glamour Portrait BeautyAntique Tintype Photo Soldier Armed Sharps Rifle Ammo Belt Indian Wars Civil WarViewmaster Disks (143) + Case & Brochures Disk Subjects Listed Below Rare Vintage 1953 Marilyn Monroe Studio Photo

Recent News: Photographs

Source: Google News

Longport Art Show bids adieu to summer
Shore News Today, September 1st

7 and 13. Artist Virgi Mottola, whose artwork can be found year-round at Jamacian Me Crazy in Margate, was showing her customized vintage photographs. “I call it nostalgic, feel good mixed media art,” Mottola said. She take old post cards of Atlantic...Read more

151 Years Later, Pickett's Charge Hero Gets Medal of Honor
Nassau News Live, September 1st

First Lt. Alonzo Cushing, shown in an undated photo provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society, is expected to get the nation's highest military decoration this summer — the Medal of Honor — nearly 150 years after he died at the battle of Gettysburg...Read more

Pakistani artist among 15 finalists nominated for international prize
The News International, August 30th

long lenticular prints while Naeem Mohaiemen of Bangladesh presents Rankin Street, 1953, an intimate work that reveals the artist's memories of his family using his family home as the subject and uncovering the past through vintage photograph...Read more

Pittsville Community Library to host antique appraisal event
Marshfield News-Herald, August 30th

Items accepted for appraisal include: fine art, furniture, ceramics, glassware, books, metalware, advertising, toys, clocks, vintage photographs and costume jewelry. Excluded items include: Knives, traps, Nazi memorabilia, coins and paper money, Beanie ...Read more

Local historian to release new book, August 29th

Many of the images come from the 6,000 photograph collection of former local photographer JB Muecke, presented to the FCHS by Morgan Williams who bought the collection to preserve it. “The thing about Muecke is he had a real sense of process,” Barker ...Read more

History Center's 'Spirited' Prohibition exhibit examines Tampa's speakeasy era, August 28th

gathered a few things that represent local history from the 1920s, such as a replica of a moonshine still, headlines from The Tampa Tribune, a liquor bottle from the 1920s, an arrest ledger from the sheriff's office and some fascinating vintage...Read more

Art openings and events: Aug. 29-Sept. 4, August 27th

The Cincinnati Room. Images that capture life along the Ohio River, featuring vintage photographs from library's collection. Exhibit continues through Nov. 2. Free. 513-369-6900; Saturday. Art in Action, 11 a.m.-3 p.m...Read more

Vintage photographs get another showing in Herrin
The Southern, August 6th

HERRIN -- People who like historical pictures of Herrin get another chance to look at a vintage photograph collection shown previously on May 23 during HerrinFesta Italiana. "Looking Back," a slide show of more than 100 images, will be presented again...Read more