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.
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Esther Hidalgo Takes Vintage Photographs of DC Urban DecayWashington City Paper (blog), November 3rd
Hidalgo 2 Using vintage cameras and throwback darkroom tricks, photographer Esther Hidalgo documents D.C.'s development and urban decay in “You Were Here,” an exhibition at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Md. Hidalgo, a Corcoran ...Read more
Gang-gang: Rond Pond captured in readers' vintage photographsThe Canberra Times, October 23rd
Summer: Marilyn and Bill Gillard's entry to The Canberra Times' "Lake Memories" photo competition. Both remember the Rond Pond as a very popular picnic and paddling place. Photo: Marilyn and Bill Gillard. Intrepid ducks perhaps, but no people (except ...Read more
Clara Adolphs' art brings new life to vintage photographsVogue Australia, October 20th
The unspoken narratives of old photographs find a voice through the Sydney artist's oil paintings. The concept of memory occupies every painting by New South Wales artist Clara Adolphs. It pervades the canvas in her rushed, scraping application of...Read more
Vintage photographs inspire Marin artistMarinscope Community Newspapers, October 8th
Marin artist Gale McKee will display her mixed-media paintings at the Marin Cancer Institute in Greenbrae. The exhibition, “The American Car: A Family Portrait,” came to life when McKee realized cars have frequently been focal points of family photos...Read more
Rare vintage photographs from John and Jacqueline Kennedy's weddingKABC-TV, October 8th
A collection of rare, vintage photograph negatives from the wedding of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy are set to be auctioned in October. The images were captured by freelance photographer Arthur Borges of Fall River, MA, who was assigned to ...Read more
Vintage photographs get another showing in HerrinThe 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
Vintage finds from the SEIU Photograph CollectionSEIU (blog), June 4th
In the spirit of my blog post early last month featuring hidden gems from the SEIU Photographs, below are several more vintage photos from this collection. As you can see, the photos described as "vintage" have a broad year span, from the 1940s to as...Read more
Hidden Gems from the SEIU Photograph CollectionSEIU (blog), May 13th
The SEIU Photographs collection is sizeable, contained in over 100 linear feet (roughly equivalent to over 100 bankers boxes). One of my current projects is processing this wealth of material, and in the course of doing so, ensuring that it is properly...Read more