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    

1953 Marilyn Monroe Photograph Milton Greene Bed Sitting Contact Sheet Sexy OoakAntique 1878 Gems Bierdstadt White Mountains Stereocard & Stereoviewer BookJoseph Jasgur Photograph Of Young Marilyn Monroe Norma Jeane Baker 1946 Pin UpRare 1/4 Plate Confederate Armed Officer Hoods Texas Brigade? Tintype PhotographWwi Dallas Wings Silver Gold Bullion Aef Air Service Pilot Photo Id Card NamedSigned Civil War Cdv Of Union Army's Youngest Enlisted Soldier W/ 1864 Tenn. BmAndre De Dienes Erotic Nude Modern Mermaid Large Format Photograph Vintage Rare Quarter Plate Civil War Tintype Of Union Soldier, Co. "f" 56th InfantryRare Horace Greeley Ferrotype Pin Presidential Campaign 1872 Tintype Star BadgeWwii Us Mae West Life Vest ~ An6519-1 ~ Named With Crew Photo ~ Estate Item1911 Bausch & Lomb Balopticon * Ingenious Magic Lantern W/conjoined ProjectorsDaguerreotype Gentleman Cravat March 1849 Boxed PhotographDaguerreotype C1840 Victorian Gentleman Boxed Antique Photograph Beard6th Plate Civil War Tintype Of Early War Union Volunteer- Remington RifleGreat Civil War Era Named Soldier Grouping Cdv's, Dog, Paperwork-historyRare Gutta Percha Civil War Union Daguerreotype Photo Case -fighting Ship - FortVintage 1938 Lucille Ball Photograph Pin Up Cheesecake Bathing Beauty Early RkoStar Wars Multi Signed By 4 Carrie Fisher Hand Signed Autographed10x8 PhotoIdentified Civil War Cdv Of Union Captain, Killed By Rebel Guerillas In 1864(#16) Original Wwii Dwight Eisenhower Signed/inscribed Photo To General BevansWwii British Battle Dress Blouse W/insig.~polish/poland Officer Lot,photo AlbumsRichard Burton 'becket' Hand Signed Autographed10x8 PhotoFrank Sinatra 'ol' Blue Eyes' Hand Signed Autographed10x8 PhotoLarge Lot (~200) Glass Stereo Slides 45x107 Format Verascope TaxiphoteBeatles Bob Wooler Collection Vintage Cavern Club Photograph B/wDaguerreotype C1840 Pretty Victorian Lady With Child Boxed Photograph KilburnVictorian Civil War Soldier The Union Now & Forever Daguerreotypes Photograph1860's Civil War Cdv Photo Of Union Navy Admiral James D. Adams As MidshipmanC1887 San Francisco California Chinese Immigrant School Class Cabinet Card PhotoHarrison Ford Signed Autographed 11x14 Photo Psa/dna #w00904 Star Wars Han SoloFantastic 1860's Civil War Cdv Photo Of United States Navy Sailor / TarVintage 1921 Arnold Genthe Negative Nude Desha & Leah Delteil Modern DancersJon Pertwee 'doctor Who' Hand Signed Autographed 6x4 Photo1901 Patent Holmes Stereoscope Stereo Viewer Underwood & Underwood Sun Sculpture1/6 Plate Tintype * Armed Civil War Soldier With Rifle And Bayonet * Excellent!Ben Turpin 'jolly Jilter' Hand Signed Autographed10x8 Photo1/6 Plate Daguerreotype * Stunningly Dressed Couple With Large Dog In Man's Lap!Exceptional Double Armed Civil War Soldier TintypeClint Eastwood Signed Autographed 11x14 Photo Psa/dna Damaged With Creases B&o Rr Em1 Baldwin Locomotive Builders Photo Baltimore Ohio Railroad Photograph"brooklyn Nine-nine" Autographed Script And Cast Photo Sons Of Anarchy Cast (12) Signed Autographed 11x14 Photo Psa/dna W04991 Hunnam 1930s Joan Crawford Vintage Original Autograph 11 X 14 PhotoRare Civil War Era Cdv Of Named Union Soldier In Uniform With Musket-backmarkStanley S J Morrow Stereoview #242 The First Jail In Deadwood Dakota TerritoryStanley S J Morrow Stereoview #216 Deadwood Looking North 1876 Dakota TerritoryVintage 1942 George Hurrell Art Deco Blonde Beauty Jane Wyman Glamour PhotographVintage Lima Locomotive Works Framed Photo Chesapeake & Ohio Train Nr1/4 Plate Ambrotype*beautifully Patriotic Hand-colored Girl Standing Full-lengthLarge Vintage Burlesque Photograph Folies Bergere Parisian Showgirl MistinguettVintage 1951 Elizabeth Taylor Photograph Virgil Apger Rare Finest Pin Up Early1930 Frances Dee 8x10 Original Camera Negative Otto Dyar Pre Code Photo ArtifactVintage Mylene Demongeot 1961 Photograph French Pin Up Pouty Bikini Sexy IngenueAntique Daguerreotype Photo Of 4 Men In 3.75"x3.25" Ornate Case1966 Raquel Welch Pin Up Sexy Camera Transparency Fantastic Voyage Bikini PhotoVintage 1920s Florence O'denishawn Ethereal Photograph Ziegfeld Follies DancerHulk Hogan Scott Hall Kevin Nash Signed Autographed 8x10 Photo Psa/dna W04987Civil War Cdv Of Gen. Henry Baxter - 7th Mi Infantry - A Real Fighting General Vintage Lima Locomotive Works Framed Photo Nickel Plate Road Train NrCivil War Cdv Album Confederate Soldier Officer Photo Carte Vista Cabinet Cards

Recent News: Photographs

Source: Google News

Dixon: Valuing history, just not its own
CT Post, January 30th

Among the layoffs was Richard Malley, who with 23 years of service was in charge of collections; Nancy Finlay, a Princeton Ph.D. who headed the images and photograph collection; and Diana McCain, who led the library. Blankenship, who makes about ...Read more

Center Surveys History, Evolution of Astrophotography
UANews (press release), January 30th

A private collection of mostly anonymous vintage photographs of solar eclipses dating from the first three decades of the 20th century. "Solarium," an immersive installation developed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory that depicts the activity on...Read more

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House To Reopen
Co.Design, January 30th

The architect's first Los Angeles project has been under restoration since 2008. Check out our slideshow for beautiful vintage photographs! After a $4.3 million restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House in Los Angeles will soon reopen to the...Read more

Mesa history: 1895 booklet predicted prosperous future for Mesa, January 30th

Main Street. One of the earliest photographs of Mesa's Main Street is this one from 1899. The two-story Zenos Co-Op brick building is partially shown at far left. McClintock Photograph Collection, Arizona Historical Society. PNI mr 0109 history...Read more

Was Lewis Carroll a Pedophile? His Photographs Suggest So
artnet News, January 30th

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's masterpiece, the wildly imaginative book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). But the recent discovery of a shocking image within his photograph collection has upstaged the celebrations, ...Read more

Purchase College Presenting Vintage Photographs By Mike Disfarmer
The Daily Voice, January 26th

PURCHASE, N.Y. – Vintage photographs by Mike Disfarmer will be on display at the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College SUNY through March 22. “Becoming Disfarmer” is the first exhibit in the New York metropolitan region to include Disfarmer's ...Read more

Vintage photograph marks conductor Sir Simon Rattle's sixth decade
The Guardian, January 18th

Sir Simon Rattle photographed in 1982 by Rory Coonan on a Victorian plate camera. Photograph: Rory Coonan/National Portrait Gallery London. In celebration of the 60th birthday this Monday of the renowned conductor Sir Simon Rattle, the National...Read more

Before & After: Vintage Photographs Transformed Into Surreal Collages
Visual News, January 12th

UK artist Luke Robson is cutting up the past and rearranging it into these fantastic surrealist collages. His work imagines a retro-future filled with stars, cosmic rays, and space helmets, plus a healthy dose of bizarrely juxtaposed imagery – from...Read more