Saturday, November 24, 2012


Lucky for me my wait was only two weeks for my first postcard to arrive from France. And the unusual stamp was an extra bonus. Postcards move through the postal service at what has been termed "a snail's pace". Often people have returned from their trips by the time the postcard arrives at its destination. But nothing could be any slower for service than the recent story I read where the postcard arrived at the correct address in upstate New York but now it is 70 years later. Unfortunately, the intended recipients have been deceased for many years.   
I've always enjoyed collecting postcards when on trips. The visual images often capture the entire scene and different buildings better than I can get with a camera. Thanks to Wikipedia I have recently become more knowledgeable about deltiology, the official name for postcard collecting. It is thought to be one of the 3 largest collectible hobbies in the world next to stamp and coin collecting. 
One of the most common greetings found on postcards is...  having fun wish you were here.
The history of postcard production can be divided into eras. Each era was marked by a change in laws or printing methods associated with postcard production. If you are a serious collector you will be able to look at a postcard and tell what era it was produced in.  
Pioneer Era (1873-1898) Earliest postal cards are ones that were issued by the post office in 1873. The first commercial ones were sold at the Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 printed as souvenir cards. 
Private Mailing Card Era (1898-1901) American publishers were allowed to print and sell cards marked Private Mailing Card. It required 1 cent postage and the back of the card was for address only. Messages were written on the front of the card. 
Undivided Back Era (1901-1907) Most picture cards of this era had white space at the bottom or to the side of the picture where the name of the sender and a short message could be written. During this era other countries started to allow the use of divided back postcards (allowing a message on the address side) and by 1907 US finally allowed this practice of divided back postcards.
Divided back Era (1907-1914) The postcard collecting hobby flourished at this time. It was an age where without radio or television.  Picture postcards offered an inexpensive and accessible view of the world. Up to this point most of the postcards came from Germany. With the ushering in of the World War more postcards had to come from the United States or England.
White Border Era (1915-1930) Most of these were printed in the United States. A white border was left around the picture during the printing process to save on ink costs. These postcards generally were of poorer quality than earlier cards. There were fewer greeting cards during this period, but scenics and events and other types of cards remained popular. 
Linen Era (1930-1940) A new type of printing process allowed the use of a high rag content paper with a linen look. Looking at these cards closely a weave texture can be noted. This new process allowed for use of bright, gaudy ink colors resulting in somewhat unnatural coloring of the postcard picture.
Postcard collecting was not a popular hobby. Maybe it was due to economic woes, war and little time for leisure traveling,
Photochrome Era (1945-present) The photochrome, or chrome postcard, is the type of card in use today. These cards are reproduced through a printing process to look like actual photos. The first cards printed with this process were introduced by the Union Oil Company at their western service stations. 
This postcard above shows two different French doors inviting us to step inside and sit a spell. Taking photos of French doors became an obsession for me during my trip. Each door seem to have some unique characteristic to set it apart from another with its color, style and door knocker. 
Next week begins French food exploration with photos and recipes. The food journey will begin each time with a door photo inviting you to step inside a French home to share a meal.  

1 comment:

  1. I rather like the artsy "linen era." Thanks for this tutorial on postcards. I don't collect them, but I have some old ones of my dad's and this post is prompting me to pull them out for display.