“Generic” CDV Album Card Fillers of the 1860s

Alan Ross
3 min readJun 13, 2020


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 lithographs glued to CDV size card stock. I have selected a few to cover in this article, which is by no means to be interpreted as comprehensive in any sense. Just a glimpse into some of the subject you might find interspersed with family photos in a CDV album.

Sepia toned set of “the seasons”. Images like these were very common and often came without any attribution.

The sepia ones are interesting but I find the colored ones much more interesting. Some were hand tinted photographs but others were chromolithographs that were very well done.

Cupid sharpening an arrow on a rock.

A lot of the CDV album fillers were familial in nature and many showed siblings. This card shows 3 children together studying or just reading to pass the time.

Someone has written in the lower margin “The (unknown) Book”.

The next two are really interesting in how they show Civil War “dress up” with fine attention to detail in them. Note the details of the horse and toys in one and the portrait above the fireplace in the other.

Child dressed as Civil War soldier. Note the fine details of the horse, the toy horses on the table, the cannon in the foreground and the drum under the table.
This young girl is dressing up in full dress for presentation. She is armed and ready. Note the portrait above the mantle, sure looks like General Burnside to me.

Another popular area relate to Bible stories. If you’re not familiar with the story of Moses, Jochebed (his Mother) gave birth to him but knew that Hebrew male children would be killed for fear they would rise and form an army. She made him a floating basket and set him in the Nile where the Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing.

The Pharaoh’s daughter took pity on Moses and decided to raise him as her own child. Jochebed’s daughter approached the Pharaoh’s daughter and said there was a nursemaid who could feed the child. It was Jochebed and she was able to spend time with Moses until he was weaned.

Jochebed and Moses on the Nile.

The images shows a captivating glance from the baby Moses and shows Jochebed in the tall weeds. What’s particularly interesting to me is that she has an exposed breast, which would have been considered quite risque in the 1860s.

That’s all of the fillers I wanted to share today, need to save some for other stories in the future. If anyone can provide attribution for any of these I would love to hear from you. Happy collecting!



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.