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 century photographs were monochromatic, and it wasn't until the 1960s that color photography became commonplace.
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.
Interviews & Articles
In an essay for her 1977 series "On Photography," Susan Sontag wrote that "photography has become almost as widely practiced an am… [more]
If you were committed to a psychiatric institution, unsure if you'd ever return to the life you knew before, what would you take w… [more]
Today, America honors its military veterans, who have served our country in times of war and peace. If you want to delve in the hu… [more]
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From 1952 to 1957, a not-so-shy model and camera-club girl named Bettie Page worked for a New York City men’s magazine publisher n… [more]
Photographer Jim Marshall, who grew up in San Francisco’s Fillmore district in the 1940s and '50s, and passed away in March of 201… [more]
Collecting anything is fun—somehow any group of objects always equals more than the sum of its parts. Personally, I prefer groups … [more]
I’ve always been interested in antiques. As a kid, I collected a variety of stuff – fossils, rocks, minerals, natural history stuf… [more]
Swann, which is New York City’s oldest specialty auction house, was founded in the late 1940s as an antiquarian book house. In the… [more]
We both come from families that had collections and we both had collections as children. Jack lost his when his grandmother threw … [more]
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Cupertino Woman Wins Award For New Children's BookPatch.com, May 19th
The illustrations are joined by vintage photographs from the company archives. The book fair and publishing seminar was held at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. For more information, please go to www.sanfranciscobookfestival.com. The book is available at...Read more
West Point railroad museum tracks area historyJackson Clarion Ledger, May 18th
As Gray talked of vintage photographs on the walls and glass cases filled with memorabilia, it became obvious the railroad is in his blood. “There's about only one way I reckon they'll get it out of me, and that's formaldehyde.” Railways changed...Read more
Daughter remembers dad's ultimate sacrificeSavannah Morning News, May 18th
Georgia Historical Society Photograph Collection Bunting draped the Oglethorpe in 1942 as dignitaries and workers celebrated the launch of the first Liberty ship built in Georgia. Back | Next. Courtesy Dorothy Von Dolteren Wise The telegram informing...Read more
Florida's Franklin County's secret coast, Alligator Point and Apalachicola ...Philadelphia Sunday Sun, May 17th
The Apalachicola Maritime Museum interprets the history of Apalachicola through displays, artifacts and dioramas and of particular note are the vintage photographs of the cotton era. www.cityofapalachicola.com. Franciscan friars were the earliest settlers...Read more
Tolbooth secrets outForres Gazette, May 17th
THE big green door will be unlocked on the Forres Tolbooth this week and an invitation extended to the public, to come in for a look around. The public are welcome to view a photograph collection featuring pictures of old Forres in the Tolbooth rent...Read more
Book sheds light on schooner era's sunset yearsSouthCoastToday.com, May 16th
Each event will begin with a 20-minute talk featuring stories and vintage photographs, followed by a book signing. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at $19.99. For further information, call Tucker at (508) 993-9667. HOME. Reader...Read more
Five Artsy Things to Do in LA This Week, Including a Whistling PerformanceLA Weekly (blog), May 15th
This week, an artist makes deadpan jokes in vintage photographs, whistlers convene in Glendale and a Japanese novelist's tragedy of frustrated love is re-staged in Mexico. 5. Crowd of copycats. It's not yet certain how many people will participate in...Read more
The Photograph Collection Of Kansas City Mayor Dick Berkley Generating ...Virtual-Strategy Magazine (press release), April 20th
(1888PressRelease) Never without a camera, for decades former Kansas City Mayor Richard Berkley has captured portraits of politicians, leaders, sport stars and celebrities. He has taken thousands of pictures of all kinds of people over the years...Read more