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India, Southeast Asia, and Africa cartes-de-visite album


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The carte de visite, also known as a CDV, was a photographic format first produced in the 1850s, and which became popular in the 1860s. CDVs consist of a small photographic print mounted on card stock measuring approximately 2 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches. Often cards were stamped with the name of the photographer or the studio on the back. French photographer A. A. Disdéri, patented a process in 1854 for printing up to carte de visite images and played the most prominent role in the invention and the popularization of the CDV format. Photography arrived in India in the 1840s and by the 1860s photo studios were set up in all the major cities in India under British control. As these images grew in popularity, mass production offered opportunity for not only royal and upper class citizens, but also for middle class individuals to get their portraits taken. Sources: Carte de Visite Collection. Carte de Visite Collection - Digital Commonwealth. (n.d.). Avehi Menon /  February 2, 2021 / Spotlight (2021) Think small: Carte de visites, Cabinet Cards & Travelling Portraits, Sarmaya. Available at: (Accessed: 23 August 2023).

The India, Southeast Asia and Africa album of cartes-de-visite, circa. 1860s contains 37 albumen print by various photographers and studios, displayed recto and verso in thick card mounts. This photographic collection of cartes-de-visite features images mostly of Indian sitters, together with portraits from Southeast Asia, Cochinchina, and Africa (including Zanzibar). Some images feature captions below portraits. Some photographs are unidentified. A few studios are identified on the backs of some of the photographs include: J.L. Eyckerman's Peintre-photographe, St. Denis, Ille de la reunion; Ritter, Molkenteller, Bombay and Poona; and Bourne &amph; Shepherd, an Indian photographic studio and one of the oldest established photographic businesses in the world established in 1863

Sold by Sotheby's (New York, NY), 2021.

Accessioned as 2021.000111. Samantha Dodd processed, wrote and encoded the finding aid, 2023.


University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Samantha Dodd
Finding Aid Date
2023 August 10
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