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
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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]
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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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Precious resourcesBoston Globe, May 24th
Collectorsweekly.com: Contains fun, well-researched articles on collectibles, like “Black is Beautiful: Why Black Dolls Matter” or “Take That, Instragram: The Enduring Allure of Vintage Photographs.” The articles connect a compilation of current eBay...Read more
Hingham Holds First Ever Museum DayPatch.com, May 24th
At the same time, volunteers from the Historical Society will share vintage photographs showing the harbor when it was a busy fishing port and regular destination for steamboats and packets carrying passengers, freight, and mail. From noon to 5 p.m...Read more
The boys (and girls) of summerSoutheast Missourian, May 23rd
The exhibit is a tribute to the county's baseball past, with uniforms, equipment and documents from bygone eras on display along with vintage photographs of teams and players. The exhibit also links the sports history of towns and communities such as...Read more
The Future That Was: America's Space Program, 1915-2011Wunderground.com (blog), May 23rd
Thanks to NASA on Flickr, you can take a virtual walk through the history of the U.S. space program among NASA's huge archive of vintage photographs taken throughout the history of manned flight, jet engine development, the manned missions to the Moon...Read more
ART NOTESPalm Beach Post, May 23rd
A survey of the league's history, and its artistic, cultural, social, and political significance, which includes nearly 150 vintage photographs. Info: 561-832-5196; www.Norton.org. THE ARTISTS OF PALM BEACH COUNTY SPRING EXHIBIT: Through June 27, Art...Read more
Historical Society Meets At the Haue Valley FarmThe Missourian, May 22nd
Among materials in the archive are vintage photographs of the community that provide a unique glimpse of history, according to Ruth Muehler, society vice president. “We sell the photos,” Muehler said. “To get an idea of what we have in our collection...Read more
Does This Woman Not Look Like a Photoshopped Vintage Photograph Come to ...Glamour (blog), May 22nd
/images/beauty/2013/05/gal-godot-vintage-hair · Does This Woman Not Look Like a Photoshopped Vintage Photograph Come to Life? /images/beauty/2013/05/emma-stone-sparkly-shimmery · Let Emma Stone Show You Exactly What Shimmery Blush Can...Read more
What's new at local attractionsTampabay.com, May 22nd
Tampa Bay History Center: Opening on Saturday the history center will look at Florida's part in the circus, with a collection of vintage photographs on loan from the Ringling Museum (story, Page 12). On July 4 there will be free admission to the museum...Read more