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Marking time in May 2011

Sunday 15 May 2011

Steam Ship ‘Denmark’

Millions of carte-de-visite photographs were produced in the second half of the nineteenth century. Almost all of them were studio portraits, but there were also a few topographic subjects like buildings and landscapes. Even rarer were cartes produced as commercial advertisements, and here is an example.

Albumen print reproduction of a painting, mounted on a letterpress printed card. The card is similar to a carte-de-visite card, but slightly larger at 108 x 65 mm.

According to Norway-heritage the steam ship on the card was built in 1865 in England for the West India & Pacific Line and named the Chilian. It was soon sold to the National Line, re­named Denmark, and began carrying migrants from northern Europe across the Atlantic to America.

I’m guessing here, but I can imagine a shipping agent handing one of these little photos only to a person rich enough to afford a cabin passage. The great majority of passengers​—​who traveled in cramped dormitories on the lower decks​—​would have been lucky to receive a plain printed handbill listing ports of call and sailing dates.

The back of the card, with a plan of the cabin layout.

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Steam Ship ‘Denmark’

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