The appeal of collecting 19th century photographic apparatus often lies in obtaining
items associated with the cameras. Multi-lens, wet collodion plate cameras are
interesting and rare finds, but acquiring historically related items helps us understand
'how' and 'why' these cameras were used.
This Carte de Visite is a wonderful find because it comes from the studio of Disderi,
the inventor of the Carte de Visite. The reverse is imprinted "Disderi & Co.,
Photographes deS M L'Empereur, 8 Boulevart des Italiens Paris."
The image itself is an albumen print and on the back of the card is a handwritten word
"Thiers", which could be in reference to the patron's name. A quick dictionary check by
Ben Ehrman uncovered Louis Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), a French statesman and
historian; first president of the Third Republic (1871-73). Knowing that the
'calling-card' is from the studio of Disderi is one thing, but having an image of a
notable statesman completes the picture. This Carte de Visite can likely be dated as
Imagine being a patron of Disderi's studio with the prospect of having a 'calling-card'
to share with friends and professional associates. It must have been difficult to strike
and hold a natural pose because the exposure time was anywhere from 30 seconds to
a couple of minutes. However, Messr. Thiers was able to compose himself in a stately
manner and reflect it in this beautiful image.
Finally, the historic picture is complete. The appearance of this calling-card indicates
that Disderi was a successful businessman who continued operating a studio for many
years after the introduction of the Carte de Visite.