Dating photopostcards is an art, but is somewhat easier than dating studio portraits as the date of studio operatioins is often not known. Most of the photo postcards that we have noted date from 1907. There are some photo postcards that appeared a few years earlier. We note some as eaely as 1903. The companies involved and the printing details can be used to date these postcards, even when they were not postally used. These indentifying marks on the back are normally found stampbox corner. They identify the manufacturer of the photographic paper. You can approximate the age of the Real Photo by knowing when the paper manufacturer was in business. Here the format of the box can help to focus in on the chronology.
The mere fact that photographic prints were done with post card backs for mailing hekps to date the images. Basically the postcard formats dates the images to the 1900s-30s, although a few types continue into the late 20th century. The basic dates of the early 20th century result from several factors: 1)the popularity of commercial post cards because of improvements in printing, 2) postal regulations and inexpensive sta,p rates, and 3) advances in amateur photography. All these factors come together at about the turn-of-the 20th century.
A stamp box is the small area in the upper right-hand corner of a post card where individuals could place apostage stamp to mail a post card. Most people never did this. Both portraits and snapshots were printed on photographic paper with post card backs. Theu could be sent trough the mail, but most people didn't do this as the photographs were kept or home or because the photograph could be damaged in the mail. So when mailing them, they were commonly enclosed in a protective envelope. The post cards boxes because they were often very destinctive can be used in dating the image even when there is no postmark. There are other features of the post card, both the front and back which can be used to date the cards. The stamp box, however, is the single most useful feature.
HBC was going to persue this subject in greater detail. It is, however, a very complicated subject and to our delight we found that someone has already done a great deal of work on this topic. Real Photo has a very detailed compilation of postcard stamp boxes. This is an excellent source rhat can be used to help. date old postcards.
H ere HBC has compiled a table with some of the basic stamp box types that we have encountered around the world and the approximate dates when available (table 1). We have used data compiled by other sources, but have confirmed and edited the entries with postcards archived on HBC. We have also added some additional entries not found in some of the sources we checked. This is, however, only a very basic listing. The number of companies is quite large. The companies here, however are among the most important. We have also noticed cards with destinctive stamp boxes, but we do not know the company involved (table 2). We hope over time, however, to be able to sketch out the time frame of the postcards.
Not all post cards had stamp boxes. We are not sure about the pre-stamp box era. We have found postcards without stamp boxes during the stamp box era (1904-30s). We have noy yet, however, found many dated examples so we can sketch out the time range of each company. One we have found is Leonar, a German company. The example we have found is dated 1932. It had a one-third divided back. We will add any other dated post cards without stamp boxes we find here. We believe that the stamp boxes were especially common in America, but for some unknown reason less so in Germany. We do not know why many German compnies did not use stmp boxes to identift\y their product. In fact mny Germn post cards were virtully blank on the back except fot a vertical dividr abd jorizontl lines for the address.
Postcard photography was very common in the early 20th century. No where were the postcard photographs more common than in America. Most of the companies listed here are American (table 1). Also inclyded in the table are a number of European countries. The K and K Ltd. post cards were European. We see quite a number of these postcards from Germany and central Europe. They were presumably a German company, but we do not yet have details on the company. And knowing the country where these companies were based does not mean that was where the photogrph was taken. There were no phoographic companies in Larin Anerica so we see hem using American and European photogrphic supplies. Many Canadian companies used American supplies, but we also see Btitish suppliers. The postcard photographs without a stamp box were much more common in Europe than America. Sometimes therewas some other type of company marking. Most U.S. podtcard back photographs had the identifying stamp boxes. As the smaller European countries generally used imported German supplies, they are especially difficult to identify unless mailed and there is a postmark or stamp.
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