Studio special effects, 1890s style. This Railroad Photo Car photograph, by it's very existence, means there had to be a significant number made for customers; though I have seen occasional snow scene backgrounds, this is the only one I have ever seen that had falling snowflakes. I assumed that (1) the flakes were blown onto the finished print, or (2) a second piece of glass with opaque speckles was sandwiched with the developed negative when the print was being exposed; the second option was both the safest and most practical method, and it turns out that was surely what they did, including a little extra effect with a snowball splatter on the skirt! Note that the subject was given a handful of white material to hold in her hand, and some fake snow was sprinkled on her hat, shoulder and sleeve – this was a classy bit of gimmickry all the way around.
The back of the card is inscribed: To Maurie, Dec. 14, 1887, so perhaps it was sent as a Christmas greeting. The photographers were Hutchings Bros. (I do not know what railroad line their studio car was allied with, but anything much before the 1890s is an early photo car example). The 4" x 5.5" cabinet card is in excellent condition and required only minor restoration.