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November 25, 2023

40 Vintage Cartes de Visite That Show Portraits of Men During American Civil War

The carte de visite, or visiting card, a photographic format about the size of a modern baseball card, dominated the American scene coincident with the Civil War. Invented in France and imported to the United States via Great Britain about 1860, it immediately became all the rage in big cities and small towns across the country.

Portraits of men during American Civil War

In 1863, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes declared, “Card portraits, as everybody knows, have become the social currency, the ‘green-backs’ of civilization.” Cartes began a gradual decline in popularity in 1866 after the introduction of the larger cabinet card format. The card photograph continued in production as late as 1920.

Here below is a set of vintage cartes de visite from Ronald S. Coddington that shows portraits of men during American Civil War.

A bearded man stands before the camera operator wearing the embroidered accouterments that signal his membership in the Masons

A clean-shaven young man wearing a white collarless shirt, vest, striped checked pants and coat sits with a stick and top hat

A gentleman poses with his pipe and a humidor

A gentleman sits sideways on a chair, gazing off camera with hand to cheek in what appears to be a contemplative, thoughtful frame of mind

A Maine gentleman strikes a casual pose with frock coat, top hat and cane

A man gazes away from the camera, forming his thoughts before putting pencil or pen to his journal

A man sits at a desk and writes in a small volume similar in size and thickness to a journal. His top hat rests on top of the cabinet mounted to the desktop

A man sits in a chair next to what may be his prize sheep

A man sits in a wheel chair that features a flywheel with hand-crank that turns a belt and powers the large back wheels

A man sporting a waterproofed cap sits in a chair, one leg over the other. His shoes show evidence of heavy wear

A man with a thick head of hair sits with a puppy and a pipe

A New York Tribune journalist after his escape from a confederate POW camp

A pair of Keystone State hunters armed with double-barrel shotguns pose with their black Labrador Retriever

A thin young man, likely in his late teens or early twenties, stands with forearms resting atop the muzzle of his firearm and his dog

A very, very old man

A young man poses in his fraternal sash with his initials embroidered on one side and a flower in the center

A young man sits on a blanket upon the floor of the photographer's studio, his left leg raised and hands pulling the leather straps that fasten an ice skate to his ankle-high boot

A young man wearing a cap sits on a stool, looking down at another young man seated on a cushion and returning his gaze

A young man with a ribbon pinned to the lapel of his vest sits in a chair and holds a book

An elderly man sits in a chair with his right arm resting on a cloth-covered table on which is seated a dog. The dog is asleep, head resting on paws

Back view of a balding man with hands placed on his hips


Dashing young man

Five men partake of a meal. The presence of bowls and a creamer suggests breakfast

Four gentlemen with pipes clenched in their teeth sit with playing cards and a bottle of gin

Four men pose before the camera operator

Four young man, all with smiles or hints of smiles upon their faces, relax in chairs and a bench artfully arranged in the photographer's studio

Gents in top hats with canes, gloves and books stand for their group portrait

Man is dressed in a long robe made of a buffalo hide and a fur collar

Man posing for a glass of whiskey

Man with hat

Table for five

The felt slouch hat, pleated vest and pants, silk tie and tailored frock indicated that this cigar-smoking gent with the light mustache and sideburns is a fashionable Dude of the first order

These gents sporting straw hats enjoy cigars inside a photo studio along Canal Street in New Orleans

Three men pose for their likeness, two with cigars and one perhaps too young to have picked up the habit

Trio of gents

Two gentlemen sporting beaver skin hats strike jaunty poses as they sit on a studio balcony prop

Two gents pose with a wet plate camera equipped with a Petzval lens, a carte de visite album and a stereoviewer

Two well-dressed men pose in front of a painted background featuring an open window

Wisconsin dandies


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