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Odd Shaped Cabinet Card

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antiquesareamazing's items1 of 136Small Cast Iron StoveAntique "Souvenir Lansing Mich" Porcelain Cup
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Posted 5 years ago

(136 items)

This is the standard width of a cabinet card, however it's SUPER tall. The only reason I bought it is because I've never seen such an awkward shaped photo.
Is this shape/size common?

Any input is welcome and appreciated!

Also... on the back is written: "Uncle John Brehler died in 1895"
*was able to find him in the Michigan Death Index. Died Apr 12 1895 at the age of 29, single and no children. Mount Clemens, MI.


  1. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
    It is not that common. Most cabinet cards are 4 1/4 X 6 1/2 or very close to that size.

    It is probably a failed case of a photographer wanting to stand out from his competition. In your example-- the photograph adds nothing but extra "sky" above the subjects head. Additionally, this extra long size wouldn't fit in any of the standard albums of the era.

  2. antiquesareamazing antiquesareamazing, 5 years ago
    Thanks, Scott! Super helpful.
  3. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
    Glad to help.

    The style is more suited to a large group photographs. The corresponding camera MAY have been sold for that purpose-- rob may be able to shed some light on that possibility.

  4. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Hi all ... I too have a portrait in this odd format size. Mine is a dated 1882 image made by the famous Brooklyn photographer Frank Pearsall - I'll post it later. Scott is right, it's a rather unusual size yet the image in my collection takes advantage of this taller format by filling it with a full standing portrait (not just a head & shoulders vanity shot). However there is still some “sky” as Scott points out.

    The oval shape around the portrait was made by a vignette mask ... this can be done in camera or while printing. Although there is a lot of "sky", it gives some leeway if the portrait is framed.

    As far as studio equipment, it was probably shot with an 8x10 multiplying camera (single lens / shifting back style) set up to economically make two vertical images on a single plate - which would account for the odd size. The shifting back allows a photographer to separately exposure different parts of a plate. It was a very cost effective practice.

    Otherwise, it is possible the portrait was shot on a smaller 5x8 view camera, but most studios of the era typically had 8x10 and up. And yes, 5x8 (even trimmed a little) is a terrific format for groups.
  5. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
    Good point with the full standing views rob. I have several images that are 3/4 or full standing where this odd size was used.


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