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    

Daguerreotype Of General Store In Newport, Ri, Cigars Mis-spelled SegarsOriginal Ww2 Japanese Imperial Navy Officer's Combat Cap Hat Uniform Medal SnlfBeatles Very Rare John Lennon Signed Unpublished Photograph 1963 Uk!Nice Original Cdv Js Mosby Unusual Pose With Ink Inscription On The Back To WifeVintage 1950s Rare Marilyn Monroe Photograph Milton Greene Risque White Sweater1860s Civil War 1/6 Tin Triple Armed W Pistol,sword & Rifle* Scarce Liberty CaseWw2 Fully Ided 501st Airborne Division Geronimo Jacket Insignia With Photo**wow** Two Civil War Soldiers Holding The Colors Of The 111th Penn Volunteers!Civil War Calvary Soldier - Quarter-plate Tintype - Union Case W/ HorseRare Civil War Sixth Plate Tintype- Triple Armed Union Soldier W/ Spencer RifleJefferson Davis - Civil War President Of The Confederacy Autographed Cdv PhotoVintage 1950s Pin Up Leggy Cheesecake Photograph Young Elizabeth Montgomery RareLarge Vintage 1929 Carole Lombard Glamour Portrait Photograph Kenneth AlexanderRare 1969 Sharon Tate Pin Up Photograph Twelve + One Blonde Mod Beauty Last Film1860s Sixth Plate Size Gutta Percha Photo Case W/ Military & Patriotic Motif1963 Beatles Signed "star Pics" Photo Caiazzo + Psa/dna 9 Mint (4) Autos Lennon China - The Sino-japanese Hostilities, Shanghai 1937. Album Of 100 Photographs.1860s Civil War Soldier Tintype Id'd 4th New York Heavy Artillery Co FVictorian Cdv Photo Child Coat Hat Cane Back To Camera Tunbridge WellsAntique Daguerreotype Of A Fashion Girl, Black Lace Gloves, Gold Tinted EarringsVintage 1946 Yvonne De Carlo Salome Orientalist Wild Erotic Pin Up Photograph NrVintage 1954 Marilyn Monroe Pin Up Photograph Contact Sheet Baron Rare BeautifulRare Autographed Carroll Shelby Collectible 85th Birthday Photo Book 1963 Vintage Photo Jack Ruby Shoots Lee Harvey Oswald Assassin Of Jfk Kennedy1876 General Crook Staff Flag Black Hills Sioux Indian Stereoview Sj Morrow #1John Young Autograph Signed Color Photo Astronaut Apollo 16 Jsa/loa InscribedOutdoor Daguerreotype House/storefront Nicholas V. Whitehouse Rochester NhRare Civil War Sixth Plate Tintype- Union Musician With Bass SaxhornThe Waltons Color Book- New Collector’s Item + Signed PhotoDeke Slayton - Nasa Apollo Astronaut - Autographed 8x10 Photograph & LetterRare Original 1927 Photo Russian Emigre White Army Baron Vrangel Metrop. AnthonyGorgeous Full Length Girl By Boston Master Absolutely Pristine DaguerreotypeMid 19th Century Architecture Cupola Perhaps Chester Vermont Dag DaguerreotypeJohn Wayne, Autograph Signature, Personalized, Hand Signed Photo, Dated 1969 Civil War Soldier Ambrotype Triple Armed Ny Belt Plate Not A TintypeAntique 1860 Tintype Photograph Young Man Boy Playing Banjo Ky Kentucky EstateVintage 1930s Murray Korman Erotic Nude Art Deco Burlesque Photograph Balloon Nr Huge Vintage Lot Of 160+ Viewmaster Sawyer Reels & Others+ 1940-1960s And A Vie1920s Alfred Cheney Johnston Photograph Ziegfeld Follies Showgirl Risque CostumeMarilyn Monroe Original Vintage 1956 Bob Beerman Doubleweight Photo Bus Stop SetCivil War Cased Sixth Plate Tintype- Armed Union Infantry Solder With RifleVery Rare 1962 Original Photo Marilyn Monroe Candid By George BarrisChina And Hong Kong Photo Album From Us Marine At The Uss Asheville 1932-1933Beautiful 1850 - 1860 Antique 1/2 Plate Ambrotype Photo Of Brothers & Sisters Civil War Soldier Ambrotype Full Standing Armed Figure With Highlights Excl!!Antique Tintype Civil War Soldier With Case The Vampire Diaries Cast Autographed 11x17 Photo * Ian Somerhalder, Nina DobrevBeatles Vintage Early 1960s B&w Photograph Taken Shortly After Ringo Joined!1945 Surreal Ingrid Bergman Photograph Hitchcock's Spellbound Salvador Dali Rare1918 China Wwi Photo Album 340+ Photos Tsingtao + Tientsin + Chinwangtao + More1850s Very Very Rare 1/6 Pl Union Case *voyage Of Life , Family* With AmbrotypeAntique 1860-70 1/4 Plate Tintype Photo Occupational Guitarist Guitar Dave Matthews Framed & Autographed Photo From Farm Aid Stage By Paul NatkinMarvelous Civil War Era Photo Album-50 Images-gen. Lee,sheridan,scott,3 OfficersExcellent 1860's Rowsell Table Model Walnut Parlor Stereographoscope Stereoscope1850s Scarce Military Union Case * Union * Shield & Patriotic Banner With AmbroNamed Ww2 Combat Engineer Huge Photo Group Destroyed Tanks, Pow's Etc. - No ResStan Lee Autographed 8x10 Web Slinger Photo Cgc SsAlan Shepard - Nasa Apollo Astronaut - Autographed Card W/ 8x10 PhotographYousuf Karsh Vintage Winston Churchill Ferrotyped Double Weight Incredible Photo

Recent News: Photographs

Source: Google News

Take a deep dive at Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale
Chicago Daily Herald, September 16th

Vintage photographs fast-forward me to American beaches and pools that remained segregated into the 1960s. Other artifacts run the gamut: posters and postcards depicting architecturally stunning pools from Rockaway Beach, N.Y., to Johannesburg; ...Read more

Campaign aims to connect residents with lost landmarks
Sarnia Observer, September 15th

Sarnia Heritage Committee members Wayne Wager and Gregory Ross stand beside a mural of Sarnia's city hall, as it was when it stood in the early 1900s where Limbo Lounge is now. The poster is part of a Rebuild Sarnia Heritage campaign the committee ...Read more

Video - David Beckham Poses With Photographer Peter Lindbergh Outside ...
Contactmusic.com, September 15th

Ahead of the signing for the new book containing a photograph collection of him in the Belstaff 'Off Road' selection, David Beckham was seen getting out of his car at Belstaff House in New York City. The footballer turned model was later seen emerging...Read more

Bangladeshi artist qualifies to the final 15
The Daily Star, September 15th

Naeem Mohaiemen of Bangladesh is presenting 'Ranking 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 negatives. He is a brilliant...Read more

Antique, collectible appraisal events this week
Green Bay Press Gazette, September 14th

At both programs, Moran will appraise objects in the categories of fine art, furniture, ceramics, glassware, vintage photographs, advertising, folk art, toys, metal-ware, clocks and costume jewelry. Excluded items are all weapons, including swords and...Read more

Memphis Railroad And Trolley Museum Hosts Central Station's 100th ...
The Chattanoogan, September 14th

On Saturday, noted rail historian, Milton Winter, will relate the fascinating story, with vintage photographs, of the 100-year history of Central Station at 1 p.m. in the Amtrak waiting room. Built by the Illinois Central Railroad and completed in 1914...Read more

Passyunk Avenue: A place to celebrate Italian culture and heritage
Delco News Network, September 12th

Among the unique exhibits at the Italian Immigration Museum is part of retired barber Sam Rosati's shop which used to be right down the street from the museum. Complete with a life-size cutout of Sal, the proprietor in his younger years, the exhibit...Read more

MHS nears fundraising goal for photo acquisition
Helena Independent Record, September 10th

Bud Lake and Randy Brewer spent more than 30 years collecting nearly 2,800 vintage photographs taken of the Crow Tribe and its people. They range from portraiture to action shots, and depict dress, food, dance, ceremony, encampments and many other ...Read more