CdV's, or Cartes de Visite which means business card or calling card in French, were very popular during the civil war. Patented in 1854 by Andre Disdéri a Parisian photographer, CdVs were inexpensive to make and people could purchase portraits of themselves in large quantities to pass out to family and friends. The CdV's measured approximately 4 1/2 x 2 1/2" which made them easy to collect.
Popularity of the CdV's peaked between 1863 and 1876. Abraham Lincoln, General Grant, and General Robert E. Lee are some of the more collectible CdV's today as well as civil war soldiers. I on the other hand love to collect portraits of the women. They give me a first hand look at the dresses of the time.
Pictured is one of my favorite CdV's. The lady in the picture has on some rather large cameo earrings! The dress is just beautiful. The style of the dress is a Victorian Era Day Dress. I love to buy, sell, collect, and trade CdVs. This one is listed in my Etsy store along with some others.