In 1866, Henry Randall penned "Mrs. Kendall, with regards of her friend" above his signature on the back of this carte de visite. The vogue during the 1860s was for friends and families to exchange cartes, small portraits mounted on a 2 1/2 by 4 inch card, and collect them in scrapbooks or special albums. The relationship between Henry Stephens Randall and the Kendall family spanned several decades. Randall, author of the book Sheep Husbandry, was interested in wool growing in the South and corresponded with George Wilkins Kendall, journalist, author, and respected Texas sheep rancher. They discussed the blue northers, liver-rot, and prairie fires that plagued Kendall's first five years of sheep ranching in Texas.
The colorful United States Internal Revenue stamp on the carte was part of the U.S. government's effort to pay for Civil War expenditures and reduce inflation. In 1861, President Lincoln and Congress enacted the first income tax and restored earlier excise taxes. When it became clear that the war would not end quickly, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1862 with reforms to the 1861 law and new excise taxes on luxury items like whisky, tobacco, and jewelry as well as documents, medicines, and newspaper advertisements. The relatively new fad of photography was taxed from 1864-1866. The cost of the stamp provides a clue to the amount that Mr. Randall paid for his card - photographs with a retail price less than twenty-five cents were taxed two cents.
Kendall Family Papers, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington