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    

Ca1892 Annie Oakley Cabinet Card Photo By Baker Buffalo Bill's Wild WestDaguerreotype- African American Woman- Charleston-geo. CookErotic Large Format Photo Brigitte Bardot Lounging In Bed Peter Basch Signed NrBeatles 8.5" X 6.5" 63 Publicity Photo Signed By Paul Mccartney & Ringo Starr!! Beautiful Antique Becker Tabletop Stereoscope Viewer With 59 StereoviewsWilfrid Brambell Harry H Corbett 'steptoe & Son' Signed Autographed 6x4 PhotoAntique Vintage Wooden Stereoviewer Stereopticon Stereoscope Photo Card ViewerRare 1852 Hartford, Connecticut High School Graduate Class DaguerreotypeMagnificent 2x Armed Civil War Sergeant Major ¼ Plate Tintype, 49 Colt & Sword !1881 Indian Wars Lakota Sioux Sitting Bull Stereoview Photo Ft Randall Dakota #11860s Civil War *the 1000 Yard Stare* Tinted Ambrotype Of Rugged Soldier Antique 1926 American Indian Chief Blue Eagle, Fort Sill, Anna Lewis PhotographIngrid Bergman Magnificent Vintage 1945 Signed Dblwt Photo Autograph Spellbound Rare Antique Civil War Theme Daguerreotype Union Case Gutta Percha Canons FlagsEdward Curtis Native American River Canoes Quinault Tissue Photo 1912 Print FineRare Handsome African American Civil War Soldier Cdv With Kepi On Column CurtainBeautiful Loving Identified Daguerreotype Of Mother And Candidly Posed DaughtersUnreal Ellsworth Grouping - Marshall House Relics + Rare Cdv!Ww1 British Army Photo Album Original With 68 Front Line Photos.Antique Attic Photograph Box Lot Civil War Soldier Photo Case Confederate Money 1910 Honus Wagner Baseball Postcard Honus Photo W Hometown Views Rare Find SepiaPristine 1880's Mattey Tri-fold Parlor Stereographoscope Stereoscope Tiger OakNice Original Civil Or Indian War Soldier Cdv Zouave Bayonet Musket Sack CoatOriginal Cdv-john Wilkes Booth-lawrence Mass.Marilyn Monroe Original Vintage 1955 Seven Year Itch Photo Subway Grating SceneAntique Parlor Stereo Graphoscope Veneered &inlaid Adjustable Stereoscope 1800’sRare Unusual Antique Back To Camera Rear View Tintype Photo Two Women Parasols Rare Bettie Page Photo From Her Authorized Bio Film. From Vintage Klaw Neg 16331881 Indian Wars Buffalo Soldier Regiment Stereoview Photo Ft. Randall Dakota1/4 Plate Daguerrotype - Young Girl Wearing Cape-- Hat On Lap-- Very PrettyWw1 Medal Trio & 10 Years Fire Brgade Service Photo Bible Lorkin Collingwood Nr1850s Scarce Union Case *crossed Cannons* Military 1/4 Pl Thermo Case Scovill1850s Scarce Military Union Case *union Forever* W Ambro By Davis,portsmouth, Nh Antique Civil War Soldier And Wife Tinted Ambrotype Photograph W Original Case6 Antique Tintype Photos Daguerreotype In Case Military Man Woman Vintage LotRare Original ~ Movie Star Autograph ~ Hedy Lamarr ~ Huge PhotographCivil War Armed Infantry Soldier Ruby Glass Ambrotype Photograph In CaseNamed Ww2 Combat Engineer Huge Photo Group Destroyed Tanks, Pow's Etc. - No ResVintage 1932 Marlene Dietrich Pin Up Photograph Pre Code Blonde Venus PortraitMarilyn Monroe Original Vintage 1961 Eric Skipsey Iconic Photograph With Dog MafCarry On Charles Hawtrey Hand Signed Autographed Album Page + Photo1958 Marilyn Monroe Large Format Photograph Pin Up Carl Perutz Vintage PortraitBeautiful 1/6 Plate Dag Of A Boy Wearing A Bib, Skirt, & Pants , Some TintingPeter Sellers 'two Way Stretch Pink Panther' Hand Signed Autographed 6x4 PhotoOne Of A Kind Grace Kelly Camera Color Transparency Peter Basch Photograph PinupVintage Art Deco Light Up Neon Sign Precision Photo Equipment Bullet Ends ChromeAntique Photo Album - China - 1913Vintage 1930s Joan Marsh Pre Code Pin Up Glamour Photograph George Hurrell LargeExtremely Rare 1/4 Plate Jenny Lind Unlisted Case & Dag Of An Identified CoupleTintype ~ Two Hunters ~ Two Long Rifles ~ Fur Pelts ~ Studio C1870? NrStunning Pictorial Daguerreotype Of Reflective Little Lady W/ Hand Across Waist!Ww1 1915 Star,war & Victory Medals,photo,pte Willie,12th Bn Glouc R,from BristolRare Cdv Piece Of Laura Keenes Dress Blood Soaked Lincoln Assassination Booth DcWw1 1914-1918 Medals Trio To 68064 Dvr A Chapman R.f.a Comes With Photo & Pcs1850s Military Union Case *union Camp Scene* By Littlefield ,parsons Civil WarBeautiful Girl Porcelain Skin Daguerreotype Superb Contrast & Holographic DepthWwii German,military,navy,officer,photo Album,post Card,125 Ww2 Photos,wk2 FotosMartin Milner's North Hollywood High School - Letterman Sweater & Photo - MmpcJohn Wayne Commemorative Rifle Scabbard For SaddleCdv Of Csa Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman N/r

Recent News: Photographs

Source: Google News

'Miss Peregrine' sequel another page turner, August 1st

One of the most enjoyable and unique features of both books is that the story is written around many positively enthralling vintage photographs. There are more in book two than we found in book one, and the way that they are used to create a story is...Read more

Small town's heart found in a desert cafe
SFGate, July 31st

The waitress showed us to a table along the side wall near an oval frame holding an antique photograph of an owl. I ordered grilled halibut, a silly choice 500 miles from an ocean, and Michael ordered a hamburger. Most of the women in the cafe wore...Read more

Discover Northfield's History in New Book
The Northfield News, July 31st

This is the second book of vintage photographs to be published by the Northfield Historical Society, the first, Picture Northfield: A Photographic Study, by Julia McIntyre and Richard Cleveland came out in 1985. This new book has a number of stunning ...Read more

Mike Miller, grandson of a visionary Cleveland mayor, is part of a new vision ...
The Plain Dealer, July 31st

Cleveland Public Library Photograph Collection. By 1940, he won the post of Cuyahoga County Democratic chairman, toppling the veteran chairman, W.B. Gongwer. Those who have studied the region's political history say Miller was one of the first to ...Read more

After 28 years in charge, retiring leader Krull reflects on the library's future
News Sentinel, July 31st

*Secured custody of the printed and written materials and photograph collection of the former Lincoln Museum. *When caps on property taxes reduced revenue for local governments, including libraries, he oversaw automation and changes such as a limit on ...Read more

Muscle Beach Memories
Santa Barbara Independent, July 30th

Inside, the walls are covered with vintage photographs and other Muscle Beach memorabilia that Morris has amassed. He is especially proud of the 14 magazine covers featuring Steve Reeves. “They are from 1947, when he won the Mr. America competition, ...Read more

Town Crier: Lake Merritt's nightlife impressive lately
Contra Costa Times, July 30th

owned by the friend of my dinner companion. Rockridge restaurateur Phil Raskin had been negotiating with ZZA's Enoteca on this space for more than a year. I love what he's done with the place -- lots of warm, reclaimed wood and vintage photographs of...Read more

Princeton History in Black and White in Historical Society's New Exhibit
Town Topics, July 30th

Many of the images in “Princeton's Portrait: Vintage Photographs from the Historical Society of Princeton” have never been previously exhibited. The show divides 90 shots between the two locations. During a break in the installation process last week...Read more