Cabinet Card Photos
...and the Historic Memphis Photographers


Cabinet Card photos got their name from being displayed in or on cabinets in the family parlor.  They go back to the Civil War, but they were most popular during the 1880's.  They're easy to identify because they were mounted on cardboard measuring 4 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches.  The card has the photographer's name and/or advertising printed mostly on the back of the card but sometimes on the front, or on both. 

The Cabinet Card was a superb way to display the height of Victorian fashion.  For the photos, women wore their most beautiful dresses, along with elaborate jewelry and hats covered in frills and fancies.  Men wore their best suit, often sporting gold pocket watches and displaying the new style of a large mustache.

Navy Officer c 1860s

Props also played an important role in the Cabinet Card photo, with photographers setting up elaborate scenes in their studios using wrought iron gates, phony rocks, tree stumps, hay bales, pedestals, as well as window and doorway sets for their clients to pose in.  As early as 1857 excellent photographers were setting up shop in Memphis - mostly on Main Street.  Among the earliest were the Bingham Brothers.  Other outstanding photographers followed in their path, including women photographers as early as 1866.  There was no longer any need for the wealthy Memphian to travel to New York for that official formal portrait. 


Click on small photos to see an enlargement ... Lots of photos...Please give the page a moment to load before clicking

Bingham, Ben - Bingham Bros ... Bingham & Craver ... Bingham & Hilliard ...etc.

There were three Bingham's in Memphis.  Benjamin Bingham was the oldest.  His brother was Thomas Bingham.  His nephew,  Brown H. Bingham was a  partner in the business and lived until 1920.   These men and their many partners were all noted for their artistic ability and business energy.  They became the largest and most progressive photography studio in Memphis and maintained the studio well into the 1900s.  The Bingham name is indelibly associated with quality photography and the city of Memphis.  The inventive Bingham studio also began going outdoors to photograph city landscape scenes for the popular stereoscopic viewer, as well as experimenting with early color photography.

Ben Bingham    


One of Bingham's partners, Charles Hilliard, was married to Regina and after they divorced, she scratched the "Hilliard" name off the back of all the pictures that she kept.  Benjamin Bingham died in 1897 and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.  There was a Bingham Photography Studio in Memphis,  up to 1940, 


1880s Memphis Girl Young Woman Memphis Baby

Memphis Lady

Lady with curls


Lady 1880s

Lady 1860s Young Man 1872-74 Young Man 1872074 Cadet 1889

Marcus Winchester

Memphis Lady

Child 1860s

Lady with hat

Two Ladies

Bingham-Hilliard Article


Young Man 1885-88

Bingham Jackson Cpl 1900 Baby Robert R. Church 1891

Mamie Golson


   J. D. Huhn

Siblings Young Man Will Randle Policeman

O. T. Stahl   



Brown Bingham Child 1860s Memphis Man Ben Bingham Thomas Bingham

Elegant Lady


Police Officer

Noland Fontaine McCowan Jeff Davis Bingham-Hilliard

Young Woman


Parade 1870s-Bingham Sign

Detail:  Bingham Sign Parade 1870s-Bingham Sign Industrial Fair Industrial Fair

Memphis Levee Waterworks and reservoir Steamships

Still life

Brown Bingham Bingham Bros Bingham Two Sisters

W. A. Collier    


Brother-Sister          Two Sisters Union Soldier Colton Greene Young Woman

General Gordon


Young Boy

Young Lady


Old Man

Regina Hilliard

Bingham Plot-Elmwood

Summary of the various Bingham Studio Names, Logos, and Dates:

Bingham & Bro's

Bingham & Craver

Bingham and Brother

Bingham & Hilliard









Ben Bingham Thuss & Bingham

Bingham & Bingham

Ben Bingham Studio




1889-1892 1893         1891-1894          1895-1899

Brown Bingham

Bingham's Studio

Bingham's Photography Studio

1900-1920 1921-1926        1927-1940

Balch ... Peplow and Balch

H. A. Balch was most active in the Midwest, particularly Illinois from the 1850s through the late 1970s, but he did most of his Civil War and best work in Memphis.  During this short period he billed himself as H. A. Balch's Star Photograph Gallery.  Later he took local photographer Robert Peplow as a partner and the billing
changed to Peplow and Balch's Star Gallery.   Balch's works include the rank and file soldiers of the war as well as the  famous U. S. Grant and William Sherman during their assignments in Memphis.


H. A. Balch

Civil War Officer 1860 Memphis Man Civil War Major

        Union Soldier U. S. Grant William Sherman

William Sherman

Civil War             1861 Ft. Pickering 1863 John M. Brown Civil War photo

Union Soldier 1860s Soldier Young Man Young Lady

Joseph F. Allison

Edward H. Simpson

Henry L. Vanhoff



John L. Wilson Wm L. Hurlburt Union Soldiers 1866 Peplow-Balch

Civil War Girl - Long Hair Civil War Dr. Roberts

Young Boy Man with Mustache Lady Man with Handlebar


Man with beard   Col Sothrop Man with Muttons






A little trivia to help identify Cabinet Cards Dates . No single rule applies across all cards.

 CARD SIZE: 4 1/2" x 6 1/2" ... the most popular size.
1866 - 1880  .  White card stock of a light weight.
1880 - 1890  . Different colors for face and back of mounts.
1882 - 1888  . Face of buff, matte finished, with a back of creamy yellow, glossy.

1866 - 1880 .  Red or gold rules, single and double lines.
1884 - 1885 .  Wide gold borders.
1885 - 1892  . Gold beveled edges.
1889 - 1896  . Rounded corner rule of single line.
1890 - 1892  . Metallic green or gold impressed border.
1896  -           . Impressed outer border, without color.
1866 - 1890  . Plain Cut Edges- 1866-1890
1892 - 1900  . Beveled Edges
1886 - 1900  . Scalloped Edges


Y Day  ... and  Day & J. F. Coonley ... Day & Wilson

Day (Yearly Day) was born Ohio, 1821.  He is listed in Memphis Directories from 1865 through 1874.  The 1880 census shows a Y Day, artist, living in Jackson, MS.  He appears to have never married. The existing photographs that he took in Memphis represent his heyday as a photographer.  In the late 1870's J. F. Coonley begins using the "Y. Day" logo his own name below it.  Later he uses his own logo at the same Main Street address.  Perhaps he took over Y. Day's studio and business?  Coonley was an assistant of Mathew Brady and after his time in Memphis moved to  the Carribean.

Conf. Officer


Dappier Memphian        Well dressed lady Lady with Gloves Bearded Man

Circus Performers             

Lawrence Young Man

            Y. Day - Coonley

      Y. Day - Coonley

Y. Day - Coonley

Y. Day - Coonley

        Y. Day - Coonley

Coonley - Lady-Flowers

Coonley - Lady-Bow



             Coonley - Young Man

Y. Day Civil War Photo Y. Day ...1860 Y. Day Civil War Photo

Y. Day ...1869

Confederate Gunner

Y. Day - Civil War

Y. Day ...1872


Day & Coonley 1870s Day & Coonley 1870s Vintage Y Day Day & Wilson


Baby - colorized


Lady - standing


Man with Goatee Civil War Lady Lady Confederate Soldier





Moyston Brothers, W. H. and J. H.

W. H. Moyston Star Photograph Gallery, Memphis ... W. H. and J .H.  Moyston, proprietors.  There was also a J. W. Moyston.  They're listed in the Memphis Directories as early as 1872 and their listing continues into the 1900's ... consistently at 249 and 338 Main.

John. H. Moyston


     Moyston Logo

1884 Father-Son Brothers 1881 Memphis Man Anna Thomas Bare Shoulders

D. C. Moore 1870s Young Boy -1 Young Boy -2 Eliz Thompson Young Lady

Mrs. Ingalls   

Lady B. A. Imes Family Child African American

Bernice Ravell

African Amer. Young Man Man "Muton-chops" Lady N. B. Forrest

C.A. Desacssure

Parade c. 1901 Parade c. 1901 Parade c. 1901 Parade c. 1901

Baby Girl with Doll Lady with bow Glasick Man Two Ladies

Young black man

Beard Baby Baby Lookout Mt.

Memphis Couple


Baby Baby   Confederate Boy Lady at Window Cowboy



T. E. Hanbury ... Clay Gallery

T. E. Hanbury and the Clay Gallery...  listed in the 1867 Directory as T.E and J.H. Hanbury.   But T. E. and J. H. Hanbury were active in Memphis as early as 1861.

  T. E. Hanbury Logo

Baby 1875 Soldier Officer Geo Kinnear 1861

C. E. Gebhardt & Company ... Cottage Gallery

Charles E. Gebhardt was born in Germany about 1847.  The earliest Gebhardt photos go back to 1877, when he worked with J. F. Coonley at 251 Main.  In 1878 he works with W. H. Brothers and Co and becomes a partner (Brothers & Gebhardt) the next year.  In 1880, the company becomes C. E. Gebhardt on Beale Street.  During the next few years Gebhardt works briefly with photographers Tidwell and Hanson at a couple of nearby locations but essentially the firm name remains C. E. Gebhardt & Co at 49 -51 Beale St. and 56 Beale St. with a ladies entrance on Mulberry. 


In 1895 Gebhardt's son Arthur begins to work with the firm.  This date also coincides with a series of moves from the long-time Beale Street address to 414 Main (1899), 294 Second St (1900-1904), 6 South Second (1905), and 169 S. Main (1906-1910).  Charles E. Gebhardt died June 1910 and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.  Arthur Gebhardt continued to run the business until 1911.


Vintage Memphis couple The Brown Sisters          Boy w/Hat

Young Lady 1880 Gebhardt & Shaw 1878 Boy with "attitude"

Baby 1860-70


Siblings 1880s

Three Men

Young Lady 1880s

Lady - Tree

Lady in swing

Memphis Lady Lady with Curls Young Lady

Man with Buttonaire

Lady with Neckerchief Fannie Dickinson 1883 Man with Tie

Lady with Guitar

Girl with Umbrella

Colonel in the army

African Amer man

African Amer Baby

African Amer  man

Young Man

Young Girl

Young Man

Young lady Robt Brinkley servant Lady

Young Boy Lady Young man Young man

Lady African American Man with hat Young man

Bell Studio of the wave of later Memphis photographers.  The name is William F. Bell and his studio was at 313 Main Street - up to 1902.  In 1903, he moved the studio to 67 Madison.



Priest 1889 Beauty 1899 Vintage          Young girl

Krauss & Dennerle  
K & D were first listed in the 1888 Memphis Directories.   Addresses on Beale and later at 413 Main.

1900 Vintage Young Lady Portrait

Levi James Thomas



James P. Newton

James P. Newton was the first professional African American photographer in Memphis.  His studio was at 134 South Main in the 1890s and he moved it to Beale Street about 1903.   His work was described as of the highest quality and his skills with a camera were widely known.  Newton was also very well known in Chicago and other parts of the country.   He relocated to Chicago about 1909.  Very few of his early works exist today.


Magazine article


Lee Garrett 1890

Sisters Young Boy Lady in Mourning

Dora Clouston


Bishop & Needles  There's no information currently available on Bishop & Needles, other than their studio was located at 262 Main Street during the Civil War occupation.  Bishop may have been a lady photographer?


Gen Sherman Irving Block Prison 1864 Joseph Webster Alex Dutton

James Veatch

J. W. Taft .  Oak Gallery 

The Oak Gallery was located at 282 1/2 Main Street in Memphis.  Photographer-artist J. W. Taft was associated with this gallery during the Civil War.   Since there's no general information on this photographer, before or after the war, we are still in the process of trying to discover more about him. When we began this page, we had  ONLY ONE photo by J. W. Taft.   By 2016 his photos began showing up at regular intervals.  Now we know he was quite popular with the soldiers and the officers at Fort Pickering,  


In addition Taft  photographed a series of the USS war ships (We have located one),  and he  photographed scenes at Fort Pickering (We have located two, including a very rare sceneof Black Americans quartered at the fort).  These provide evidence that J. W. Taft was well ahead of most photographers of the time.  We know that he was well trained but we don't know where he's from.  We suspect that he was one of several photographers who came to Memphis during the "Occupation" to record the "war" and make some quick money.  Other than his photos, he has left no other paper trail.


Taft:  Andrew J. Smith Taft:  Adm Davis Taft

Taft:  Soldier


Gen Sherman

Gen Grierson

D.Palmer - Sailor

Gen Washburn


Gen Grant    


Provost Marshal's Office

Contraband Yard...

                 USS Essex


Civil War Woman Hunt-Phelan Home Lady
... and other Memphis photographers

McCrary+Branson McCrary+Branson Branson by Schlier Miss A. Brown Miss A. Brown


Somers: Somers Somers: Somers:


A Richmond


Mitchell Columbia View California Studio Deane Deane Deane

Ogden Ogden - 1873 Ogden Harwell-Hancock













Barr & Young Barr & Young

Barr & Young                







F.N.B. Hughes F.N.B. Hughes F.N.B. Hughes Eclipse

Instru. Supply Co.



Swilley & Lecoq


Armstrong Armstrong

Echard Echard Echard 1880s Echard





Brothers - Cottage Gallery



     Oak Gallery Clark's Gallery Belt Studios Belt Studios

Belt Studios



Bluff City

Blujff City

Blujff City Blujff City Bluff City

Cook 1920s



*Memphis photographers Coovert, Hooks, Newman, Poland, and Speers are on another page of this website > Click here





The Historic-Memphis website does not intentionally post copyrighted photos and material without permission or credit.  On occasion a "non-credited" photo might possibly be posted because we were unable to find a name to give credit.  Because of the nature of our non-commercial, non-profit, educational website, we strongly believe that these photos would be considered "Fair Use.  We have certainly made no monetary gain, although those using this website for historic or Genealogy research have certainly profited.  If by chance, we have posted your copyrighted photo, please contact us, and we'll remove it immediately, or we'll add your credit if that's your choice.  In the past, we have found that many photographers volunteer to have their works included on these pages and we'll  also do that if you contact us with a photo that fits a particular page. 


The "Historic-Memphis" website would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions which helped make this website possible:  Memphis Public Library, Memphis University Library, Memphis Law Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Shelby County Register of Deeds, Memphis City Schools, Memphis Business Men's Club, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis City Park Commission, Memphis Film Commision, Carnival Memphis, Memphis Historical Railroad Page, Memphis Heritage Inc, Beale Street Historic District, Cobblestone Historic District, Memphis Historic Districts, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Tennessee State Archives, Library of Congress, Kemmons Wilson Family, Richard S. Brashier, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, Woody Savage and many individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on the pages of their contributions.  Special thanks to Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake, for giving us carte blanche access to his outstanding collection of contemporary Memphis photos.

We do not have high definition  copies of the photos on these pages.  If anyone wishes to secure high definition photos,  you'll have to contact the photographer  or the collector.  (To avoid any possibility of contributing to SPAM, we do not maintain a file of email addresses for anyone who contacts us).

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