Postcard Types


Figure 1.--This greeting postcard has no inceription. It might be sent while on vacation. It looks French to us, but may be Dutch. Such cards often crossed national borders in Europe. These cards were less popular in America.

We have noted several different types of post cards. We are not postcard experts. Thus we have just assessed postcards we have noted. Hopefully HBC readers with expertise in postcards will assist us in our assessment of these cards. The most important types are souvenir, greeting, and persional cards. People loved sending postcards on their vacations, a relatively new development for the average person in the late 19th century. They were cheap and didn't require a lot of time to compose a long letter. Some liked to brag about their vacations. Others of course said, "Wish you were here!" Post cards also became an early form of greeting cards. They came in many forms. Children were popular subjects for these cards. They came with the appropriate text added in every European language. A very important innovation was about 1907 when I believe Kodak began printing snapshots on paper with a post card back. Here I need to reaserach the precise history of this development. We believe these postcards were primarily produced from one's snapshots, but some photographic studios also offered to print portraits as postcards.

Souvenir Postcards

People loved sending postcards on their vacations, a relatively new development for the average person in the late 19th century. They were cheap and didn't require a lot of time to compose a long letter. Some liked to brag about their vacations. Others of course said, "Wish you were here!" At the time snapshots could only be sent when a person returned home and got his photographs developed. The picture post cards began to appear in America at the turn of the century. The timing might be a little earlier in Europe, but not much. They were soon printed in large numbers and offer interesting glimpses into the early 20th century. Most souvenir cards were senic, showing landscapes, city scenes, buildings, and memorials. There were also some of the naugthy variety, giving rise to the term "French postcards" becaise the French had a more open view on such matters.

Greeting Postcards

Post cards also became an early form of greeting cards. They came in many forms. Children were popular subjects for these cards. They came with the appropriate text added in every European language (figure 2). Some celebrated personal events as birth days, graduations, and confirmation. Others celebrated holidays like Christmas and New Years. People did not always choose souvenir cards of local landmarks when on vacation. Some of these cards had no incriptions, but were cute staged images of children, animals, or other subjects which people also sent home from vacations. This seems to have been more common in Europe than America.

Personal Postcards

A very important innovation was about 1907 when I believe Kodak began printing snapshots on paper with a post card back. Here I need to reaserach the precise history of this development. These are reallu snapshots printed with a post-card mailing back. We believe these postcards were primarily produced from one's snapshots, but some photographic studios also offered to print portraits as postcards. Given the cost, however, the snapshot postcards are more common. Rhese post-card snap shots prpved emensely popular as parent sent their snap shoys on to relatives as penny post cards. We note these post cards more in American athan Europe. This was very popular in the early 20th century, but declined in popularity during the 1930s when people more commonly began to include several snapshots in a letter rather than sending one as a postcard. We are not sure if anyone now prints snapshots as postcards. "A HBC reader asks, "Do you know of companies which exist now that will take photos and create postcards?"

Studio Portraits

Many of the prunts from the Kodak Brownie anbd other similar were printed with postcard backs. We note that phoyographic studios began printing their work with postcard nacks rathervthan cabinent cards or in Europe CDVs as well. Gradually the postcard back prints became more common than the caninet cards. Here the pattern varied from country to country. We are not entirely sur hiw this orked. Presumbly the client chose just what foemt he wanted. We note lrge number of studio prints in the 1900s and 10s, but this declined after World War I in the 1920s. Eventually the studios began preparing their prints with attractive paper frames and in larger sizes. This was the case by the 1920s. The backgrounds of the studio portraits seem similar to contemprary cabinet card prints. A good example is the Uferte brothers in America during 1921 which had a portrait with an Artura potcard back stamp box. The background is done as a woodland setting with boys by elegant wooden furniture.






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Created: October 17, 2000
Last updated: 6:32 AM 5/31/2012