The carte de visite was a standard size small albumen photograph, that when mounted on a thicker paper card, measured 2.5 inches (64mm) by 4 inches (100mm).
The advantage over previous methods of photographic reproduction that allowed for only a single reproduction at a time, was that the inventor, Frenchman Adolphe Disderi had patented a photographic method in 1854 using the 'multiplying camera-obscura', that took multiple separate negatives on a single plate thus reducing production costs. Later versions of this camera took 8 and then 12 negatives on a single plate.
The format and cheaper cost meant that for the first time it was economical for relatives and friends to exchange portraits either by hand or by post, no matter where they were located, and from about 1859 their use spread from Paris to other areas of Europe and the Americas.
The popularity of the carte de visite more...
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