Say Cheese!

You’ve doubtless seen these varieties of vintage sepia photographs before. But how many of you noticed the signatures below embossed and gold leafed in decorative metal typefaces and ornamental scripts?

At the turn of the twentieth century thousands of entrepreneurial photography studios were scattered throughout the United States, and each one (usually the name of an individual) had its own mark. They did not call it branding, but that’s what it was.

This format was called “cabinet card photographs” and measured approximately four inches by six inches and mounted on card stock (similar to cardboard). They got their name from their size — just the right size to be displayed on a cabinet.

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One thought on “Say Cheese!

  1. Kevin Lipp

    This is great! I love branding from days of ol’. Thanks so much for this post! (I think Jessica Hische mentioned these foil stamps, or ones similar to it, in a recent Design Chat she took part in. I know the secret of your library/apartment/…shrine? Would love the opportunity to experience that sometime)