History of Postcards
Due to governmental postal regulations, postcards were a long time
in developing. The direct ancestor of postcards seems to envelopes printed
with pictures on them. These first envelopes were produced by D. William
Mulready, E.R.W. Hume, Dickey Doyle, and James Valentine. The envelopes
were often printed with pictures of comics, Valentines and music. Thousands
of patriotic pictures appeared on U.S. envelopes during the civil war
period of 1861-1865. These are now known as Patriotic Covers. The first
postal type card in this country was a privately printed card copyrighted
in 1861 by J.P. Carlton. This copyright was later transferred to H.L. Lipman. The "Lipman
Postal Cards," as we now call them, were on sale until replaced in 1873
by the U.S. Government Postal Service.
The first postcard was suggested by Dr. Emanuel Herrman in 1869,
and was accepted by the Hungarian government in the same year. The first
regularly printed postcard appeared in 1870, a historical card produced in
connection with the Franco-German war. The first advertising card appeared
in 1872 in Great Britian. The first German card appeared in 1874. Cards
showing the Eiffel Tower in 1889 and 1890 gave impetus to the postcard
heyday a decade later. A Heligoland card of 1889 is considered the first
multi-colored card ever printed.
In this country, the earliest known exposition card appeared in 1873,
showing the main building of the Inter-State Industrial Exposition in Chicago.
This card, as well as other early advertising cards, usually bearing vignette
designs were not originally intended for souvenirs. The first cards printed
with the intention for use as a souvenir were the cards placed on sale in
1893 at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. During this period all
privately printed cards required the regular two cent letter rate postage,
the new government printed postals required only one cent.
Starting in 1898, American publishers were allowed to print and
sell cards bearing the inscription, "Private Mailing Card, Authorized by Act
of Congress on May 19, 1898". These private mailing cards were to be posted
with one cent stamps (the same rate as government postals).This was perhaps
the most significant event to enhance the use of private postals. As with
government postals and previous pioneer cards, writing was still reserved
for the front (picture side) of the cards only.
in 1901, the U.S. Government granted the use of the words "Post
Card" to be printed on the undivided back of privately printed cards and
allowed publishers to drop the authorization inscription previously required. During this
time, other countries began to permit the use of a divided back. This
enabled the front to be used exclusively for the design, while the back was
divided so that the left side was for writing a message and the right side
for he address. England was the first to permit the divided back in 1902,
France followed in 1904, Germany in 1905 an finally the U.S. in 1907.
These changes ushered in the "Golden Age" of postcards as millions were
sold and used. However, the trying years of 1907 to 1915 brought rising
import tariffs and the threat of war, and thus a decline in the cards
being imported. Political strains of the day brought about the end of
the "Golden Age."
From 1916 to 1945 Merican technology advanced allowing us to produce
quality cards printed on a linen typepaper stock with very bright and vivid
colors. View and comic cards were the most often published. The Union
Oil Series began in 1939, launchingthe new era of photochrome cards.
Photochromes are commonly called "Modern Chromes" are still the most popular cards today.
Despite the increase in postal rates for postcards from one cent to the
current twenty three cents, the popularity of postcards continues to rise.
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