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 1860s in England, but did not gain much attention in the U.S. until the mid-1870s. While it was a bigger image than the CDV, it did not offer much of a quality difference until the mid-1880s. That is when the effect of new photographic papers and camera improvements really became apparent.
Many cabinet card photographs from the 1880s and 1890s are exquisite pieces of artwork, exhibiting technical excellence and wonderful composition. This new size and improved clarity and colors provided the perfect media to showcase the grand styles of the gay nineties.
For nearly two decades, Seattle-based Robert E. Jackson has collected more than eleven thousand American snapshot photographs from the late 19th century though the late 1970s, and has been exhibited throughout the United States. These strange collage images using vintage cabinet cards are from Jackson’s collection, as he stated:
“People make contemporary dags, cyanotypes, etc., but the cabinet card is the only 19th century photo medium I know where artists use the physical object as the basis of creating something new and exciting… And while there are altered CDVs, the larger size of the cabinet card offers a richer canvas for creativity… This work is not sold as photography, but as painted or collage pieces using the photo object as its basis.”