Visit Portrait #photographs

Lee Jaffe

I'm hoping the collective wisdom can help clarify something I've discovered in some old family photos.  I've been delving into dozens of older, unidentified photographs which have come my way over the years.  These are studio portraits, many rather small, about 1"x2", mounted on heavy card stock, and some with Cyrillic labels.  I've managed to decipher some names of cities and areas – Snovsk, Gomel/Homel, Rechitsa, Vitebsk, Minsk – in addition to references to the photo studios.  However one in particular, labeled in English "Visit Portrait," got me wondering whether these photos represent travel mementos.  Were they taken at the site of the visit or at home to be given to hosts when visiting?  The difference might indicate whether or not the named town was the individuals' hometown.  Is anyone on this list aware of such a tradition?   Thanks for your help.

Lee David Jaffe
Surnames / Towns:  Jaffe / Suchowola, Poland ; Stein (Sztejnsapir) / Bialystok and Rajgrod ; Roterozen / Rajgrod ; Joroff (Jaroff, Zarov) / Chernigov, Ukraine ; Schwartz (Schwarzstein) / Ternivka, Ukraine ;  Weinblatt / Brooklyn, Perth Amboy, NJ ; Koshkin / Snovsk, Ukraine ; Rappoport / ? ; Braun / Wizajny, Suwalki,  Ludwinowski / Wizajny, Suwalki



These little photographs were called "Carte de Visite" which translates as Visiting Cards. They were of a standard size of 2.5" x 4". They were cheaply produced in quantities and the idea was to be able to give them to your friends, relatives or contacts in the same way as a visiting card would be presented.   They were introduced in the late 1850's and became popular from the 1860's to the end of the century.  The style of the 2 portrait cards shown dates them to the late 19th century.   Suitably sized Cartes de Visite albums were typically purchased so that people could exchange photos and keep them neatly together.  So "Visit card" doesn't mean the portrait was taken on a visit to a particular place but it is the style of the portrait photograph.

Lesley Edwards, Goostrey, Cheshire, UK