Saturday, August 17, 2013

Post Cards - Wish You Were Here

Yesterday I attended the presentation of  Unlocking the History of an Old House” by Mike Dixon at the Delmar Library, more about that later, in the presentation Mike used a number pictures of Delmar that were from postcards.  I thought I would write a little about postcards.

As a historical item, postcards in the United States are a relatively new item.  They did not “take off” until 1898 when the Post office gave up their monopoly on post cards with the passing of the Private Mailing Card Act.  This act allowed publishers and printers to produce “Private Mailing Cards” (postcards).  The card had to have Private Mailing Card printed on it.  By 1901 the publishers could just label the card Postcard.  These cards could only be written on the side with the photo as the back was for the address.  In 1907 the Post Office allowed citizens to write on both side of the cards by using the back side divided into two sections; one for the address and the other for the message.  This period until World War One is considered the Golden Age of Postcards. About 1900, Real Photo postcards began to filter into use. Starting in 1906, Eastman Kodak Company produced “postcard” cameras that had negatives that were postcard size.  These Real postcards had very clear images and the photographer could go anywhere with the camera and the photographer could be just an ordinary person who purchased the camera, not a professional. In addition some models of the camera had a small backdoor that had a metal scribe the photographer to write on the negative comments and dates.  I think we have all seen those black and white postcards with the freehand lettering across the bottom describing some event or perhaps a family home or name.  In 1908, more than 677 million postcards were mailed and this was at a time when the U.S. population was less than 89 million people. The populous went wild using postcards.  As opposed to the 1940s and 1950s when one would take a snapshot and slip it into the envelope with your letter, people at this times had the pictures made into postcards and mailed.  Numerous picture of the High School graduate, doughboys in uniform standing in front of an army barracks, brides, dead people in caskets, all were popular subjects for the time. As bourgeois manners and tastes heightened at the turn of the century, many an American living room featured a picture postcard album, not only of personal photos but of exotic faraway places. It was one way in which people traveled in those days. Altho they may not have realized it they were involved in Deltiology, the official name for postcard collecting, is thought to be one of the three largest collectable hobbies in the world, along with coin and stamp collecting


Once World War One hit the supply of cheap German printed postcards was cut off and after WW1 people would begin using the telephone for communication. The postcard craze begins to diminish.   After WW1 the era of the “White border” postcard came into use.  It was obviously called white border for the white Border around the outside edge of the postcard.  They saved a little ink and helped control the cost.

About 1939 the PhotoChrome Era begun and continues until today.  The images were based on colored photographs with a glossy appearance. 

Two places online to look at local photos; one is the Nabb Research Center with postcards of Salisbury.

The second, is the Delaware public archives

Where the George and Irene Caley collection of postcards are online.  About 7,000 postcards of Delmarva.  If you do a search and enter Delmar at the above website you will see about 40 postcards related to buildings in Delmar.  If you want to see the collection click on View the collection and you will see a great collections of memories.  Regretfully I am old enough to remember when a number of these places were viable active businesses.  They are mostly all Places instead of people but still interesting.  I found the messages to be at times as interesting as the postcard picture.   

Ice Plant In Delmar


1 comment:

Randie Hovatter said...

What a great post. I had trouble finding the Delmar postcards though.