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This little guy is the size of a standard old-style stamp, scanned here quite large so you don’t need to squint. You can click to enlarge it, as well.

It’s from a late 19th/early 20th century photo album owned by my family. Only some of the images were labeled, and though we have Smiths in the family and in this album, I’m not sure where H. W. Smith fits in. He may have been a distant cousin of that family. The photo gallery which made the print is C. H. Gallup in Poughkeepsie. It’s a strange little thing, like a 19th century version of NeoPrint, traded with friends and pasted into albums and on business cards etc.

“…in 1887, two patents were issued for “stamp portrait apparatus,” first to Henry Kuhn, later to Genelli, both of St. Louis, Mo. They both copied a previously taken image into multiple stamp-sized reproductions on perforated, gummed photo paper. These are the earliest true photo stamps. Their popularity persisted until the early 20th century. Little is known about the makers of photo stamps in the U.S., even less for those overseas. Unless the maker is identified on the stamp, it is hard to determine even in what country the stamp was made.”

– Arthur H. Groten, M.D

The American Stamp Dealer & Collector, May 2009, p.47

Mr. Groten’s full article, linked to in this post, also has a page of examples of various stamp-type photos and a good, brief run-down of the history of photographic printing processes leading up to stamp portraits. It also mentions photos with stamps on the back from the Civil War era which I believe I have one or two in my collections somewhere, but never knew what the stamp meant! Neat. I’ll have to go through and see if I can find one again.