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]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique 1930s Penny Arcade, Stereoscope Viewer Cail-o-scope Caille Bros, NrBeautifully Tinted Sixth Plate Postmortem DaguerreotypeSmiling Marilyn Monroe W/ Royal Canadian Mounted Police 1953 Vintage PhotographIncredible Hulk #'s 180-181-182 All Autographed By Herb Trimpe Verified In PhotoVintage Large Format Andre De Dienes Erotic Nude Photograph Cosmic Sprite 1950s1920s Costumed Flapper Girl Biker Chic Photograph On Indian Motorcycle Sublime Beautiful Early Daguerreotype Of Stunning WomanSigned Autograph Coronation Photo From Queen Elizabeth Ii Prince Philip 1953Young Supermodel Carmen Dell'orefice Vintage 1945 Large Peter Basch PhotographSexy Vintage Original Bettie Page Color Slide Transparency Photograph Pin-up NrOriginal Antique Tintype Photograph Of Two Baseball Players Holding Bats Henry Gilpin Signed Classic Highway 1 8"x10" Very Hard To Find Photograph Pin-up Showgirl Marilyn Monroe Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Vintage Photograph 1953Sterling Silver Antique 3 Leaf Clover Shamrock Miniature Photo Picture FrameSultry Vintage Flapper It Girl Clara Bow 1920s Silent Film Icon Photograph RareRare Early 1950 Marilyn Monroe Vintage Photograph Asphalt Jungle Moody PortraitErotic Rare 1920 Nude Pictorialist Nitrate Camera Negative Edwin Bower Hesser NrPrince Hand Signed Autographed Rolling Stone Sexy 8 X 10 Color Promo Photo1870s Man With High Wheel Bicycle And Trumpet Studio Cabinet Card Photo Autographed Purple Rain Photo By Prince And Apollonia KoteroCivil War Soldier With Musket TintypeCivil War Soldier In Gutta Percha Frame, 6th Plate TintypeJoel-peter Witkin Signed Original 1979 Man With Wings Wheels Photograph 14 X 14"Choice Rare Civil War 6th Plate Tintype Of Union Officer W/ Sword & Plate Mark*German Wwi Steel Helmet Trench Gasmask Rifle Stirnpanzer PhotoPrince Autographed Photo * Rip Nc Confederate Soldier Photograph Id'd W/ Shot Bag Powder Horn Bullet MoldAntique 19th C Floral Gutta Percha Vulcanite Photo Locket Mourning Brooch Nr YqzChevy Chase Autograph Christmas Vacation Signed 8x10 Photo Psa Coa + Pic ProofSigned Autograph Photo Royal Gold Presentation Frame King Edward Vii CoronationBeautiful Large Format Greta Garbo 1941 Clarence Sinclair Bull Photograph FinestCdv Of Artillery Camp At Civil War Prison In Elmira, Ny. Outdoor Image.Signed Vintage Rare Peter Basch Large Fine Art Editorial Photograph Lisa ProkoffBuzz Aldrin - Nasa Astronaut - Authentic Autographed 8x10 PhotographRare Arts & Crafts Large Norman Edson Photo Mt Rainier Pie Crust Frame "dawn"10 Exceptional Antique Photos Vintage Dolls & Children 1880s 1890s Cabinet CardsArt Nouveau Copper Photo Picture Frame Dinna Forget Sweetheart Forget Me NotKate Beckinsale Van Helsing Autographed Underworld Close Up 8×10 Photo * CaCa.1855 Sixth Plate Lady Seated Before Painting In Home - Original Seals & CaseCivil War 1/6th Tintype Pair Armed Full Standing Union Artillery Or Cavalrymen.Lot Of 150 Assorted View-master Reels: Travel, Children's, Cowboy, Cartoon...... German Kriegsmarine Kreuzer Emden Photo Album U Boat Germany Submarine Km WwiiHuge Lot! Old Photographs! Daguerrotypes, Ambrotypes, Tintypes, Carte De Visite!James Bert Barton Arts & Crafts Hand Tinted Photo Mt Rainier Pie Crust FrameVintage 1936 Exotic Marlene Dietrich Garden Of Allah Wedding Dress Photograph1920s Arnold Genthe Original Camera Negative Nude Marion Morgan Modern DancersRare 1880s Bingham Stereoview Canadian Pacific Railway Cowboy At Moose JawLarge Fine Art 1960 Street Photograph New York City Kennedy Election Rare UrbanGlamorous Blonde Vixen Louise Allbritton Vintage 1943 Large Format Photograph NrTopless Nude Gelatin Silver Hollywood Silent Film Jazz-age Witzel Photograph NrCivil War Cdv General Jefferson Davis Photo Prince Musician- Hand Signed 8x10 - Autographed Photo Rip W/coa Rare Purple Rain1862 Original Staff Albumen Identified 67th IllinoisCgc Ss 9.8 *new Case* Thor #13~photo Variant~signed/inscribed By Chris HemsworthProvocative Jazz Age Beauty Lili Damita Oversized 1929 Vintage Photograph SuperbSigned Norman Edson Hand Tinted Photo Puget Sound Sunset Vashon Arts & CraftsBrett Weston Signed And Framed Untitled Abstract Photograph 9¼" X 7½"Vintage Alfred Cheney Johnston Photograph Large Format Erotic Dolores CostelloBeatles Very Nice Color Photograph Of Ringo Starr Signed! Daguerreotype Gentleman In Uniform, Faded (civil War?)

Recent News: Photographs

Source: Google News

This Malaysian City Is the Food Cart Mecca You've Never Heard Of
Munchies_ Food by VICE, April 28th

Paintings, figurines, vintage photographs, and sketches of him lined the whole shop. Everything here was dedicated to this sacred pirate, the shelves lined with his literature. Some had titles like, “The God Who Walked on Earth” and “Baba's Sayings.”...Read more

Mesa history: Remembering when May Day was a thing
azcentral.com, April 28th

Mesa historical photos. 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...Read more

Hundreds gather at Playhouse Square to share laugh- and tear-tinged memories ...
cleveland.com, April 28th

CSU Archives Photograph Collection. Grainy black-and-white footage of Frazier – an eyebrow raised in a wicked "V" as he sang "Funeral Tango" from "Jacques Brel" – flickered on a giant screen. Later, his "Rascal" co-star, the Irish folk singer Gusti...Read more

Curators' Preview: Promising Paradise at The Wolfsonian-FIU
Cuban Art News, April 28th

As Vicki Gold Levi's donation to The Wolfsonian museum included hundreds of vintage photographs—most dating from the 1950s—one of my first tasks was to try to identify some of the less-renowned Cuban entertainers captured in the silver gelatin silver ...Read more

Cooperstown Confidential: Baseball's Facebook Phenomenon
Hardball Times, April 28th

Now retired, Gosger posts fairly regularly to Facebook, and does so on a variety of topics, ranging from his own playing days to the game of today, his views on politics, and updates on his own day-to-day life. He has a terrific collection of vintage...Read more

A Look Back
Colorado Springs Gazette, April 26th

During its history, the school has grown and been remodeled several times. For more on the school's history, visit www.cshs-palmer-alumni.org. MARGARETTA M. BOAS PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION, COURTESY OF PIKES PEAK LIBRARY DISTRICT, 001- ...Read more

Vintage Photographs of Nas, KRS-One, Jay-Z, And More To Appear In Smithsonian ...
Howl & Echoes, April 13th

Washington DC has never been a 'must-see' destination on my hip-hop sightseeing tour of North America. I figure The Bronx, Harlem World, Compton, Rucker Park, 5Pointz, and the bodega where a 17-year-old Biggie Smalls delivered his dope freestyle ...Read more

Vintage Photographs Aligned With Present Day France Show You How History Is ...
M2 magazine, April 3rd

A lot has happened to Paris in the last 100 years, and art director Julien Knez has set out to prove it. After trawling through photographs dating back to 1870 and matching them with the current day locations he photographed them together, bringing the...Read more