But even while doing that, I haven't always been alive to the beauty of some of the backs in their own right.
Among the Victorian and Edwardian photographs I inherited from my Mum, there are quite a few from the famous studio of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe in Whitby.
After this, I got the bit between my teeth and went hunting for another photographer's studio. I have this card, for Robert Gibbs' studio in Middlesbrough.
Looking for information about Gibbs, I found some interesting bits in the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette. He was born in Great Yarmouth in 1843 and must have moved up to Middlesbrough when he was quite a young man. His wife, Alice, was from Skelton, quite near Middlesbrough. By 1873 he was apparently a Freemason. He lived until 1921 but photography didn't remain his profession throughout his working life. In the 1901 census he's a 'theatrical agent' and in 1911 (the last available census return), he's a 'house agent'. His son, John, who started out as assistant to his father in the photography studio, was working as a gardener by 1901, so photography doesn't seem to have been all that good an option, perhaps because of the increasing numbers of people who owned their own cameras (or was that a bit later?).
I bought a lovely book about cartes de visite -- both fronts and backs -- this week, from a small, independent press in Lancaster, Fast Foot Press. It even comes with a reproduction cdv in a glassine envelope glued inside the back flap of the cover ('glassine' is one of my absolute favourite words -- any excuse to use it).