Civil War era CDV with revenue stamp: father and daughter

What it is:

Carte de visite (CDV) measuring approx. 2.5 x 3.75 inches , with a 2-cent hand canceled U.S. revenue stamp (orange George Washington) on the back.

What I know about it:

Undated and unidentified.  However, the revenue stamp dates it to 1864-1866, the period of time when photos were taxed and revenue stamps were required.  The fact that it is a 2-cent stamp means that the original retail value of the photo was up to 25 cents.


I am assuming they are father and daughter.  They are a handsome pair.  The girl’s outfit strikes me as rather adult, but I’ve read that it was common for wealthy families to dress their children, particularly girls, as miniature adults.  I’m not sure if the white thing in the man’s lap is his hand or something else like a book.  It seems the bottom was trimmed, probably to fit a frame or album.  There seems to be a light stain on the girl’s nose, which saddens me, though the fact that a little photo like this would survive for 150 years is, to me, remarkable in itself.

2 comments on “Civil War era CDV with revenue stamp: father and daughter”

  1. It was also customary during the 19th century to put children in dresses with short sleeves and low boat necklines during the daytime; it was supposed to be an artistic way of showing off the innocent beauty of their shoulders and little chubby arms. Girls were often dressed this way (during warm weather, at least) until they were 16 or 17 and started wearing adult styles, which meant complete covering of the arms and shoulders except for evening social events. She’s a pretty little girl. That may be a coral necklace she’s wearing; Godey’s Lady’s Book (among other women’s magazines) talked about coral being thought of as a good luck charm for children to wear.

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