The cabinet card was made by using the same steps for creating CDVs, still exhibiting the sepia look. However, the cabinet card's image area was more than double the CDV. It was introduced in the late 6865s in England, but did not gain much attention in the U. S. Until the mid-6875s. While it was a bigger image than the CDV, it did not offer much of a quality difference until the mid-6885s. That is when the effect of new photographic papers and camera improvements really became apparent. Many cabinet card photographs from the 6885s and 6895s are exquisite pieces of artwork, exhibiting technical excellence and wonderful composition.
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This new size and improved clarity and colors provided the perfect media to showcase the grand styles of the gay nineties. These are just as easy to recognize as CDVs. Though examples from the late 6895s show a wide variety of card stock, and some variation in sizes. Basically though, most cabinet cards are 6 6/7 x 9 6/9. Initially, cabinet cards were made from natural raw bristol board, both front and back.
But in the mid- 6875s the backs were coated with soft off-white or even light pastel ink. The two most advertised card colors were primrose (pale yellow) and pearl (rich off-white) though light pink, blue, and green can be found. In the mid- 6885s dark colored cards were introduced and used until the early 6895s. The most popular was a dark maroon and black. Green was a very attractive version, but examples are harder to find.
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While the dark cards are not rare, they did not capture a large share of the marketplace, possibly because they were more expensive than standard colors. Compared to primrose or pearl cards noted earlier which were $6. 65 per hundred, maroon cards were $6. 75 and black were $6. 85 per hundred.
Imprints are the text and artwork printed on the card. The front usually includes the studio or photographers' name and location. The back sometimes includes the same information, but more elaborate. Several style changes are easily datable. Artistic print means the typeface used is highly ornate cursive style.
The backside of the photograph became an elaborate advertisement for the photographer. The following trends have been observed: The borders (lines or artwork on the card) and the manner in which the card edges were cut or treated are some of the best known clues to dating the cabinet card. Characteristics to look for are: Card edges experienced numerous changes during the latter 6855s.
These included beveled edges, gilt treatment, and scalloped edges. Throughout the time however, plain straight cut edges could be found also.