The photograph above was taken in 1894 and is of my Grandfather (my father's father) at 2 years old and his older sister Juliet, who was 5 years old. The photograph was taken at the Schmidt studio, which was located at 201 1/2 East 89st near 3rd Ave NY.
Some of the oldest items I discovered in my personal treasure are photographic portraits taken by professionals and mounted on thick paper stock which were referred to in the trade as cabinet cards. Cabinet cards became popular shortly after The Civil War around the mid-1860's and were used until the late 1890 when they were mostly replaced by the snapshot and the emergence of personal photography. The cards were usually decorated with the logo, signature and address of the photographer and his studio; they functioned as both a way of showcasing the photographer's work and as his makeshift business card. By simply googling the name and address of various studios seen on these cards I was able to learn all sorts of personal and professional information about the photographers of this era. These searches also gave me the opportunity to see other portraits and works that were taken by the same photographer as the items I found. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_card