The rich history of photography means that I see all types of photographs. Your family collection is similar to your next door neighbor's but is also very different. Here's an example. Today a client showed me this really sturdy looking case for a ambrotype.
It's a pretty standard ninth plate wood and leather case (2 1/4 by 3 in) decorated with a floral design. What makes this case unique are the modifications. It's encased in a metal outer edge to protect the fragile glass ambrotype. I suspect this was done for traveling. One of the potential owners of the case is a Confederate soldier. The image on the inside depicts a young woman.