By 1861, when the Civil War started, there were already several ways to take a picture. The first photos of a war were taken during the Mexican-American fight from 1846 to 1848. The Civil War (1861-1865) was the fourth. Matthew Brady was a determined photographer who collected his and other photographers’ war photos by buying negatives from others. Most of the pictures in museums today are part of the record saved by Brady, but not all were taken by him.
There are ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, albumen prints and a surprising number of stereo pictures of the war. Many were portraits of soldiers in uniform posing in a studio, but there are also many pictures of battlefields after a fight showing the dead. The portraits were framed and displayed just as we do today.
An unusual painted iron picture frame was offered in an Eldred auction with an estimated price of $500 to $1,000. It held two pictures, and the small glass circle at the top of the frame beneath an eagle was meant for a picture of President Lincoln. The large circle surrounded by American flags and a Union shield held the portrait of a soldier. The frame was marked as “design patented Nov. 25, 1862” and was probably made for years after that.