Friday Fun Victorian Style

The Victorians liked to pose for photographs. The early Daguerreotype came about in 1839, when the inventor Samuel Morse returned to the U.S. after visiting Daguerre in Paris. Ambrotypes and tintypes followed in the mid 1850s.

The carte de visite came on the scene around 1859. This 2.5 x 4-inch photograph mounted on cardboard was affordable. When the Civil War tore families apart, many had photos taken so they could gaze upon their loved ones.

The photo above shows the four cartes de visite I found in an antique store and used as the models for the major characters in my debut novel. Although the photographs are over 140 years old, they are in remarkable shape, a tribute to the photography of yesteryear.

The carte de visite was replaced by a larger photograph in the 1870s. The 4 x 6-inch images were also mounted on cardboard. The one below shows the woman I used as the model for the heroine in my latest story.

Can you guess what these larger photographs were called?

(Hint: the name is two words beginning with a C.)

You can leave your answers in a comment. If you want to see if you guessed correctly, click this link. You’ll need a password, but it’s an easy one. It’s Romance with a capital R.


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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13 Responses to Friday Fun Victorian Style

  1. Melissa Tagg says:

    Umm…I think I’m going to cheat and go straight to the answer. Hehehe… 🙂 Love seeing the photos you used as inspiration for characters!

  2. I have no idea! But I do have a question. I know there’s a reason why they never smiled for photos, I just don’t know what it is. Enlighten me! 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jesse, the reason they didn’t smile for photographs was that it took a long time for the exposure to be complete. Erica Vetsch shared Five Fun Facts about Early Photography on a guest post she wrote for my blog, including more about the reasons for the sour expressions. You can view the post here:

  3. Gabrielle Meyer says:

    Wow, this one I have no idea! I love that this photo was from Minneapolis – I come across so many old photos taken in Minnesota. 🙂

  4. wendypainemiller says:

    I’ll go with cartographs. For fun. And it’s underlined in squiggly red so now I know that’s not even a word. Ha! Perfect.

  5. Carbon copy? Ha. I love that you found those photos for your characters!!

  6. Donna Pyle says:

    How cool that you used actual photographs from long ago times as your character inspirations. Fun! I have no clue what they would have called it. It looks really orangy, so I would assume amber something or other. 🙂

  7. Loree Huebner says:

    My hubby has a huge collection of Civil War carte de visites, and a few tin types.
    I love looking at the pictures of the people. You can see that some had it very hard back then.
    The photographs were very dear to the loved ones. We have so many images today that we take it for granted.

    I don’t know what the larger ones are called.

  8. I don’t know what the larger ones are called, either, but I wanted to remark that it’s so neat you were able to find those photographs and use them to base your characters off of.

  9. How fun to see pictures of your characters, Keli! I found myself really enjoying historical photos for a project I was working on. It brought history to life for me.

  10. hmm…no idea what they are called. interesting that our common 4×6 cut originated so long ago.

    i love that you got those photos at an antique store. makes you wonder all about the people in them photos….how did their photos come to the store? who dropped them off/pawned them? fun!

  11. Anne Payne says:

    I had to look at the answer. Had no idea! Cool mini-history lesson today 🙂

  12. Beth K. Vogt says:

    No guess here.
    But I love that you used antique photographs for characters in your novel — which I can’t wait to read!!

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