The World's Greating Collection of Post Cards, Greeting Cards, Celebrity Post Cards, and Collector's Cards
Definition of a Postcard: A postcard or post card is typically a rectangular piece of thick paper or thin cardboard intended for writing and mailing without an envelope and at a lower rate than a letter. It is distinguished by stamp collectors from a postal card in that the postage is pre-printed on the latter, whereas a postcard requires a stamp. While a postcard is usually printed by a private company, individual or organization, a postal card is issued by the relevant postal authority. The United States Postal Service defines a postcard as::
British postal card, used in 1890
At least 3-½ inches high x 5 inches long x .007 inch thick
No more than 4-¼ inches high x 6 inches long x .016 inches thick
The study and collecting of postcards is termed deltiology.
In the art world the postcard can also be translated into an art object. The art form is called mail art.
Brief history of postcards in the United States
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." Nine years later, European countries were also producing postcards.
Initially, the United States government prohibited private companies from calling their cards “postcards,” so they were known as “souvenir cards.” Although, in 1901, this prohibition was rescinded, not until 1908 could people write on the address side of a postcard.
The first postcard in the United States was created in 1893 to advertise the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. Shortly thereafter the United States government, via the United States Postal Service, allowed printers to publish a 1-cent postcard (the "Penny Postcard"). A correspondent's writing was allowed only on the front side of these cards.
Postcards, in the form of government postal cards and privately printed souvenir cards, became very popular as a result 1893’s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago, after postcards featuring buildings were distributed. In 1908, more than 677 million postcards were mailed.
1901 brought cards with the word "Post Card" printed on the reverse (the side without the picture). Written messages were still restricted to the front side, with the entire back dedicated to the address. This "undivided back" is what gives this postcard era its name.
The "divided back" card, with space for a message on the address side, came into use in the United States in 1907. Thus began the Golden Age of American postcards, which lasted until about 1915, when World War I blocked the import of the fine German-printed cards.
The "white border" era, named for obvious reasons, lasted from about 1916 to 1930. The "linen card" era lasted from about 1930 to 1945, when cards were primarily printed on papers with a high rag content. The last and current postcard era, which began about 1939, is the "photochrome" or "chrome" era. The images on these cards are generally based on colored photographs, and are readily identified by the glossy appearance given by the paper's coating.
In France, erotic postcards appeared in 1910.
British seaside postcards
In 1894, British publishers were given permission by the Royal Mail to manufacture and distribute picture postcards, which could be sent through the post. Early postcards were pictures of famous landmarks, scenic views, photographs or drawings of celebrities and so on. With steam locomotives providing fast and affordable travel, the seaside became a popular tourist destination, and generated its own souvenir-industry: the picture postcard was, and is, an essential staple of this industry.
In the early 1930s, cartoon-style saucy postcards became widespread, and at the peak of their popularity the sale of saucy postcards reached a massive 16 million a year. They were often bawdy in nature, making use of innuendo and double entendres and traditionally featured stereotypical characters such as vicars, large ladies and put-upon husbands, in the same vein as the Carry On films. In the early 1950s, the newly elected Conservative government were concerned at the apparent deterioration of morals in Britain and decided on a crackdown on these postcards. The main target on their hit list was the renowned postcard artist Donald McGill. In the more liberal 1960s, the saucy postcard was revived and became to be considered, by some, as an art form. This helped its popularity and once again they became an institution. However, during the 1970s and 1980s, the quality of the artwork and humour started to deteriorate and, with changing attitudes towards the cards' content, the demise of the saucy postcard occurred. Original postcards are now highly sought after, and rare examples can command high prices at auction. The best-known saucy seaside postcards were created by a publishing company called Bamforths, based in the town of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, England.
Despite the decline in popularity of postcards that are overtly 'saucy', postcards continue to be a significant economic and cultural aspect of British seaside tourism. Sold by newsagents and street vendors, as well as by specialist souvenir shops, modern seaside postcards often feature multiple depictions of the resort in unusually favourable weather conditions. The use of saturated colour, and a general departure from realism, have made the postcards of the later twentieth century become collected and admired as kitsch.