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John Henry Bufford was one of America’s first chromolithographers, using many stones and colors for a single piece of work. The earliest Bufford chromolithographed sheet music I have is dated 1847.

Bufford was most prolific in the late 1850s and the 1860s, having large operations in both Boston (where he originally was) and New York.

Bufford made somewhere around 2 dozen sets of Album Cards on a variety of subjects. Some of the most popular are the Civil War Battle Scenes, of which there are 2 sets of 12 cards each.

The cards are CDV size (2.5 x 4 inches)…


Wow, where to begin? With some assumptions. And some facts. And some leaps.

So, William Forbes married Louis Prang’s daughter. We knowthis to be true. Also, Forbes printed Album Cards for Prang. There are letters that substantiate this.

I am not aware of anyone else who did card publishing/lithography for Prang. He did most himself and Forbes got some jobs (and complaints on quality from Prang). The Huntington Library has 2 letters from Prang to Forbes on the topic. They used to belong to me.

There are 2 album cards in one of my binders that have nagged at me…


As you may have seen in previous stories, I collect all of the possible 1860s and 1870s album cards I can get my hands on. Many I know but there are those elusive ones that I put away but don’t know who to attribute them to.

One such publisher that I’ll call “white border and white letters” has eluded me my entire collecting career. I first found some of the spice plants years ago and thought, based on Jefferson Burdick’s classification, that they were Louis Prang album cards. Alas, they are not. They do, however, have some very noticeable characteristics…


Until now I’ve been focused on the CDV size “traditional” album cards from the 1860s-1870s, which are 2.5x4 inches.

There is another category that arose during this period which was the “Larger Album Cards”. If you’re unaware, a man named Jefferson Burdick devoted his life to collecting and organizing cards of all kinds. One of his books, The American Card Catalog, remains the ‘Bible’ for card collectors. He organized tens of thousands of cards into categories based on his collection and firsthand research. There is a section on “Early Album Cards”, which I found around 1993 and haven’t looked back…


In the 1860s, the Carte De Visite (CDV) photograph was all the rage. Portraits had come down in price from the ambrotype days and people all over the United States were having their portraits taken. This gave rise to CDV albums, meant to hold pictures in place.

Since most families had a limited amount of portraits, an industry to provide “art cards”, “views”, “religious themes” and other categories blossomed. This also gave rise to the “album card” movement, which is what the primary focus of my research and collecting is around.

Back to the CDV fillers. These were photographs or…


There aren’t many cards by Charles Magnus. He did a lot of song sheets, envelope covers, larger lithographs but other than his Civil War portraits there aren’t many sets to cover.

When the opportunity presented itself some time ago to acquire this set of Fortune Telling Cards, I didn’t think long before taking the dealer up on the offer. This is a complete set of cards along with a box (not in the best shape) and instruction set (not in any kind of shape).

So what is our fortune today?

Top of the box of Fortune-Telling Cards by Charles Magnus.

Originally created by Fisher and Brother’s, this set of fortune…


Some time back a friend of mine showed me a typical calling card from the 1800s — rectangular shape, usually around 1.5 x 3 inches in size. Most people had calling cards in the second half of the nineteenth century and there were many clever designs with applied scraps that would hide the name, scraps with famous people. These are readily available and fun to collect.

Back to the friend. She asked me to hold it up to the light and when I did I could see an image tucked inside the card! …


Prang produced a number of album card sets of various wild flowers, presumably by the months that they bloom in. There are 2 parts for May-August and one part for September.

These cards, in themselves, are not terribly hard to find. Some of the sets were published later and can be very difficult to complete. This particular set, August part 1, was published in 1863.

Nice orange color on this envelope front from 1863.

As with all of Prang’s album cards, there are 12 cards in Part 1 of August Wild Flowers. …


Starting in 1863, Prang began publishing these “Wood Mosses”, which were called “American Wood Mosses” in his catalogs. There are 2 parts to this set, totaling 24 cards. All are standard CDV size and blank backed.

I have a full envelope for this set and really like the artwork, especially the spider web in the middle.

Sorry for the tear, I didn’t do it! Envelope copyright 1863.

The cards are very colorful in nature and all vertical in orientation. A lot of cards share the same title so I will just add them all here for reference purposes.


Not knowing something gnaws at me. I search everywhere for clues and to try and gain additional understanding until I have figured it out.

This “set” of 12 cards (may be an assortment from several sets), was in a Prang Card Album but was not his work. There were also some large format album cards (cabinet photo size) but we’ll get to that topic another day.

The work on these cards is very advanced in terms of the colors and how “full” the cards are in terms of ink. …

Alan Ross

I am nuts about early album cards from the 1860s-70s. And other cards and small lithographs. This space is to talk about all of them.

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