Tuesday, July 14th 2009
I will be looking at Postcards over the next few blogs, from the earliest to the latest. They have developed and survived for over a hundred years and continue to inform, surprise and entertain every generation. They are the original blog, micro bits of information, the great-grandad of Twitter . . . Take note young whipper-snappers, see how it is done.
History Of Postcards
Deltiology is the official name for postcard collecting and is probably one of the three largest collectable hobbies along with coin and stamp collecting. Postcards have become popular due to their universal appeal and low cost availability to everyone. At some point or another, every large business has used postcards, and just about every subject has been portrayed on a postcard. Before postcards came along there were lithograph prints, woodcuts and small cards that were the forerunner of what we now know as the mailed postcard. These were were mostly delivered by hand. Another close cousin seems to be the envelope with a picture printed in it (produced by D. William Mulready, E.R.W. Hume, Dickey Doyle, and James Valentine , but whoever is the real ancestor of the postcard, they could not know how popular they would become.
John P. Charlton of Philadelphia patented the postcard in 1861, selling the rights to H. L. Lipman, whose postcards, complete with a decorated border, were labeled “Lipman’s postal card. Plain postcards were used prior to the Lipman postcard and were issued by individual countries with that country’s stamp affixed upon them. These cards were referred to as “Postals”. The first “non-Postal” postcard, meaning a privately made postcard where postage had to be affixed was introduced in Austria in 1869 and by 1870. It is said that the first postal card was recommended by Dr. Emanuel Herrmann, in 1869, and was accepted by the Hungarian government in the same year and then first printed card in 1870. The first advertising card appeared in 1872 in England. The Heligoland card of 1889 is considered the first multi-colored card ever printed. Cards with pictures of the Eiffel Tower in 1889 & 1890 gave the picture postcard a huge start on its way to mass popularity.
View cards have always been the most popular type of card. People collect cards of places that they have been and have visited. These cards offer historic references and snapshots of buildings, streets, and even towns which may no longer exist or that have changed massively over time. The earliest cards offer a window into the social history of the time. The messages written on the cards often give us insight as to the picture shown.
The greeting card was almost as simple as the view card in the early days, though its popularity declined in later years. Christmas, Easter, Birthdays and most other holidays and special occasions were quite common. Today most collectors choose a topic within a specific holiday in order to limit their searches and specialize, examples being to collect Christmas cards depicting Santa in green robes only. Lavish designs and intricate artwork were used on early postcards. Publishers competing for sales, printed cards using intricate embossing techniques, special inks, expensive lithographic processes and even novelty additions such as glitter, ribbons, metal, silk and feathers.
The art card is the most important category in antique postcards. Unlike other cards, most art cards were special interest cards when they were printed and in most cases brought a MUCH higher price. Rarity, and the skill of the artist, make these cards popular among collectors today. These cards are considered miniature works of art and no where in the world of art, does such quality material exist at such low prices. In the first decade of this century, the postcard market was a very large business. This booming market drew the best artists of the period, creating a wealth of quality material unmatched in the art world. Also at this time, also during this period German publishers produced a series of “Old Master” art reproductions, the card’s intensity and depth of color is without parallel as they spared no expense in printing.
Used to commemorate events such as war, social problems, expositions, parades, coronations, politics and other such important events. These cards have an increased value to a professional collector. Often this type of card was made of a real photograph with few copies being offered for sale. This is especially true of disaster cards depicting floods, fires, wrecks, etc. More often the historical significance of a card comes form the message written by the sender.
Coming into their own recognition as art cards are the fantastic photographic art cards. These real photo art studies of beautiful women, children, pets or animals etc. and are often hand tinted in great detail. Also made popular were the photomontage techniques which allows photos to be altered into original art creations.
Keep an eye out for the next delivery . . . …