Welcome to Lost Family Photographs

Lost Family Photographs was created out of my desire to reunite old photos with decedents. As a family historian one of my genealogy strategies is to visit antique stores when I am in an area doing research. As I look for my family photos I also find many other photos clearly labeled with names, dates and locations. It is difficult to leave these photos behind. A few years ago I began buying photos in the hopes of reuniting the photo with a decedent. Over the years I have had some success connecting other family historians with a family heirloom. Lost Family Photos was started to reach a larger number of other family members who have a passion for family history and will treasure the found photo.

Carte de Vista or CdV Photos

1859 carte de visite of Napoleon III by Disdéri, which popularized the CDV format

The carte de visite (French: [kaʁt də vizit]visiting card), abbreviated CdV, was a type of small photograph which was patented in Paris by photographer André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri in 1854, although first used by Louis Dodero.  It was usually made of an albumen print, which was a thin paper photograph mounted on a thicker paper card. The size of a carte de visite is 54.0 mm (2.125 in) × 89 mm (3.5 in) mounted on a card sized 64 mm (2.5 in) × 100 mm (4 in). In 1854, Disdéri had also patented a method of taking eight separate negatives on a single plate, which reduced production costs. The Carte de Visite was slow to gain widespread use until 1859, when Disdéri published Emperor Napoleon III’s photos in this format. This made the format an overnight success. The new invention was so popular it was known as “cardomania” and it spread throughout Europe and then quickly to America and the rest of the world.

Each photograph was the size of a visiting card, and such photograph cards were traded among friends and visitors. Albums for the collection and display of cards became a common fixture in Victorian parlors. The immense popularity of these card photographs led to the publication and collection of photographs of prominent persons.

By the early 1870’s, Cartes de Visite were supplanted by “cabinet cards”, which were also usually albumen prints, but larger, mounted on cardboard backs measuring 110 mm (4.5 in) by 170 mm (6.5 in). Cabinet cards remained popular into the early 20th century, when Kodak introduced the Brownie camera and home snapshot photography became a mass phenomenon.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tips on dating cabinet card photograph

When attempting to determine the date for a cabinet card photograph, clues can be gathered by the details on the card, location and photographer. The type of card stock or whether it had right-angled or rounded corners can often help to determine the date of the photograph to as close as five years.  Photographers may have been using up old card stock, or the cabinet card may have been a re-print made many years after the photo was originally recorded so no method can be 100% accurate.

Card Stock

  • 1866–1880: square, lightweight mount
  • 1880–1890: square, heavy weight card stock
  • 1890: scalloped edges

Card Color

  • 1866–1880: thin, light weight card stock in white, off white or light cream; white and light colors were used in later years, but generally on heavier card stock for photograph.
  • 1880–1890: different colors for front and back of the photograph.
  • 1882–1888: matte-finish front, with a creamy-yellow or glossy back of the photograph.

Card Border

  • 1866–1880: red or gold rules, single and double lines
  • 1884–1885: wide gold borders
  • 1885–1892: gold beveled edges
  • 1889–1896: rounded corner rule of single line
  • 1890: Embossed borders and/or lettering


  • 1866–1879 Photographer name and address often printed small and neatly just below the image or studio name printed small on back.
  • 1880’s: Large, ornate text for photographer name and address, especially in cursive style. Studio name often takes up the entire back of the card.
  • Late 1880’s–1890’s Gold text on black card stock
  • 1890’s forward embossed studio name or other embossed designs


Find out everything you can about the photography studio.  A google search for S. Winans returned a photo taken of the 29th Missouri General Assembly taken in 1877 by S. Winans.

William S. Beck and Marie Neighorn Wedding Photograph
Back of William S. Beck and Marie Neighorn Wedding Photograph

1880 census records show a Solomon Winans, Jefferson City, Cole County, MO-Photographer.  Soloman died December 1888.  It is unclear if the S. Winans photography studio continued after his death.


While no method will be 100% accurate using these tips for identifying old cabinet card style photographs can help to narrow the age and aid in finding your ancestors.