Civil War Carte de Visite Collection

The carte de visite (CDV) is a photographic print measuring 2.5" by 3.5" mounted on a card measuring 2.5" by 4". It was first introduced in 1854 by Frenchman Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi, shortly after the invention of the collodion wet plate. He used the collodion wet plate process and a multiple exposure back on his camera to produced a negative with eight small images (2.5" by 3.5") on the single plate. He then contact printed the negative on albumen paper and after developing the prints, cut them into eight separate images and mounted each on a card. The photographs were used as calling cards and given by people who were visiting, inspiring the French name "carte de visite". In America the CDV became immensely popular by 1859 and many famous people as well as a lot more not so famous people were photographed using this mass production process. The carte de visite was one of the most widely used photographic processes during the Civil War and was produced well into the 1870's. The New York State Military Museum and Veteran's Research Center has about 2,500 in our collection. Most are of known men who were fighting for the New York Volunteers.

Collection owner: New York State Military Museum