A postcard or article card is a rectangular piece of thick paper or thin cardboard meant for composing and mailing with no envelope. Shapes other than rectangular might also be utilized. You will find novelty exceptions, including timber postcards, made from thin wood, and copper figurines offered at the Copper Country of this U.S. nation of Michigan, also coconut”postcards” from tropical islands.

In some areas, an individual can send a book to get a lesser cost than a correspondence . Stamp collectors differentiate between postcards (that need a postage stamp) and postal cards (that possess the stamp pre-printed on them). Even though a book is usually printed by a private firm, organization or individual, a greeting card is issued with the appropriate postal authority.

The world’s earliest postcard was delivered in 1840 into the author Theodore Hook from Fulham in London, England. The study and collecting of postcards is known as deltiology.

Cards with messages were sporadically generated and posted by people since the start of postal services. The first known image postcard was a hand-painted layout on card, published in Fulham at London from the author Theodore Hook to himself 1840, also bearing a cent black stamp. He likely created and submitted the card for himself as a practical joke about the postal service, because the picture is a caricature of employees in the post office. In 2002 the book sold to get a listing #31,750.

In the United States, the habit of sending via the mail, at letter speed, a graphic or blank card stock that held that a message, started with a card postmarked in December 1848 comprising printed advertisements. The first commercially made card was made in 1861 from John P. Charlton of Philadelphia, that patented a postal card, also sold the rights to Hymen Lipman, whose postcards, complete with a decorated edge, were tagged”Lipman’s postal card”. These cards had no graphics.

In Britain, postcards images were issued from the Post Office in 1870, and have been published using a postage as part of the plan, which was comprised in the cost of purchase. All these cards came in 2 dimensions. The bigger size was shown to be somewhat too big for ease of handling, and was soon pulled in favour of cards 13mm (1/2 inch) shorter. The earliest known printed image postcard, using a picture on one side, was made in France in 1870 in Camp Conlie by Léon Besnardeau (1829–1914). Conlie was a training camp for soldiers at the Franco-Prussian warfare . The cards needed a lithographed design printed onto these comprising emblematic images of heaps of armaments on each side of a scroll topped with the arms of their Duchy of Brittany along with the inscription”War of 1870. Camp Conlie. As these are certainly the very first known picture postcards, there wasn’t any space for stamps without any signs they were posted with no envelopes.

In the next year that the earliest known picture postcard where the picture functioned as a souvenir was shipped out of Vienna. The very first advertising card appeared in 1872 in Great Britain and also the very first German card looked in 1874. Cards revealing images increased in amount throughout the 1880s. Pictures of this recently constructed Eiffel Tower in 1889 and 1890 gave impetus into the postcard, resulting in the so-called”golden age” of this film postcard in years after the mid-1890s. Early postcards frequently showcased photography of naked ladies. These were commonly called French postcards, on account of the high number of these created from France.

Historical US postcards

A 1908 postcard of a postcard factory in Chicago, that promises to be’The largest building in America devoted exclusively to the manufacture of Post Cards’
Back of the aforementioned 1905 card
Postcard with 1908 cancellation
American’divided back’ postcard, 1916
The initial American postcard was developed in 1873 from the Morgan Envelope Factory of Springfield, Massachusetts. These initial postcards depicted the Interstate Industrial Exposition which happened in Chicago. Later in 1873, Post Master John Creswell introduced the very first pre-stamped”Postal Cards”, frequently called”penny postcards”. Postcards were created because people were searching for a simpler way to send quick notes. The initial postcard to be published as a souvenir from the United States Was Made in 1893 to market the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago.

The Post Office was the only institution permitted to print postcards, and it maintained its own biography until May 19, 1898, when Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act, which enabled private printers and publishers to create postcards. Originally, the United States government banned private businesses by calling their cards”postcards”, so that they had been called”souvenir cards”. These cards needed to be tagged”Private Mailing Cards”. This prohibition was rescinded on December 24, 1901, from if private businesses could use the phrase”postcard”. Postcards weren’t permitted to have a broken back and correspondents could write on the front of the postcard. This was called the”undivided back” age of postcards. By March 1, 1907 that the Post Office allowed private citizens to compose the address side of a postcard. It was on this date which postcards were permitted to have a”divided back”.

On these cards that the rear is split into two segments: the left part can be utilized for the message and the appropriate for your speech. Thus started the Golden Age of American postcards, which appeared in 1910 with the introduction of tariffs on German-printed postcards, and ended by 1915, when World War I finally disrupted the print and printing from this nice German-printed cards. The postcard trend between 1907 and 1910 was especially popular with rural and small-town girls in Northern U.S. countries.

Postcards, in the kind of government postal cards and independently published souvenir cards, became popular as a consequence of the Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, afterwards postcards containing buildings were dispersed in the fair. In 1908, over 677 million postcards have been sent.

The”white border” age, known for borders around the film region, lasted from approximately 1916 to 1930.

Mid-century linen postcards were created in fantastic number from 1931 to 1959. Regardless of the title, linen postcards weren’t made on a sheet cloth, but utilized newer printing procedures that utilized an economical card stock using a high rag content, and were subsequently completed with a pattern that resembled linen. The surface of these cards is distinguished by a textured fabric appearance that makes them readily identifiable. The reverse of this card is eloquent, such as earlier postcards. The rag content in the card inventory allowed a far more vivid and vibrant picture to be published compared to earlier”white border” style. As a result of cheap manufacturing and bright realistic graphics they became popular.

Among the better known linen era postcard producers was Curt Teich and Company, that produced the hugely popular”large letter linen” postcards (among several others). The card layout featured a huge letter spelling of a country or location with smaller photographs within the letters. The plan may nevertheless be found in several areas now. Other producers include Tichnor and Company, Haynes, Stanley Piltz, E.C Kropp, along with the Asheville Postcard Company.

From the late 1920s brand new colorants were developed that were quite enticing into the printing market. Even though they were best utilized as dyes to display their brightness, this was shown to be debatable. Where conventional pigment based inks could lie on a newspaper’s coating, these thinner watery dyes had a propensity to be absorbed to a newspaper’s fibers, in which it dropped its benefit of greater colour density, leaving behind a dull fuzzy finish. To experience the rich colours of dyes light have to have the ability to pass through these to excite their electrons. A partial solution was to combine these dyes with oil distillates, resulting in quicker drying heatset inks. Nevertheless, it was Curt Teich who eventually solved the issue with embossing paper with a linen texture prior to printing. The embossing generated more surface area, which enabled the newest heatset inks to dry faster. The faster drying period enabled these dyes to stay on the paper’s surface, thereby maintaining their exceptional strength, which provide Linens their telltale vivid colours. Along with printing with the customary CYMK colours, a lighter blue was occasionally utilized to provide the images additional punch. Higher speed presses may also adapt this technique, resulting in its widespread usage. Although first introduced in 1931, their rising popularity was disrupted with the outbreak of warfare. They weren’t to be published in numbers again before the later 1940s, once the war effort stopped swallowing the majority of the nation’s resources. Though the graphics on picture cards were based on photos, they comprised much handwork of those artists that brought them in to production. There’s obviously nothing new in this; exactly what it noteworthy is they had been to be the very last postcards to demonstrate some touch of the individual hand . In their last days, many were printed to seem more like photo-based chrome cards which started to dominate the marketplace. Textured newspapers for postcards were fabricated ever since the turn of this century. But because this process wasn’t then a essential step in helping card manufacturing, its additional price kept the procedure restricted to a couple of publishers. Its first use probably came from efforts to mimic the feel of picture, thus concerning the postcard to a painted work of fine art.

The United States Postal Service defines a postcard as: rotating, at 3 1⁄2 inches (88.9 mm) top × 5 inches (127 mm) long × 0.007 inches (0.178 mm) thick and no longer than 4 1⁄4 inches (108 mm) high × 6 inches (152.4 mm) extended × 0.016 inches (0.406 mm) thick. But some postcards have deviated from this (by way of instance, shaped postcards).

Contemporary postcards

A tinted (black image which has had coloured tint additional ) souvenir card. Picture of this Christopher Columbus taken circa 1896
The past and present brand new era, which started about 1939, is that the”chrome” age, however these kinds of cards didn’t start to dominate until approximately 1950. The pictures on these cards are usually based on coloured photos , and are easily identified with the glistening look given by the newspaper’s coating.

In 1973 the British Post Office introduced a new kind of card, PHQ Cards, popular with collectors, particularly when they possess the proper stamp affixed along with a first day of difficulty postmark obtained.

In July 1879, the Post Office of India introduced a quarter anna book that may be submitted from 1 spot to another inside British India. This was the most economical type of article supplied to the Indian people so far and proved a massive success. The institution of a large postal program spanning India led to unprecedented postal accessibility: a message on a postcard might be transmitted from 1 part of the nation into a different area (often into a physical address with no local post office) without further postage affixed. This was followed in April 1880 by postcards intended particularly for government use and from answer postcards in 1890:423–424 The postcard facility has been the season in separate India.

British seaside postcards

In 1894, British publishers had been granted permission from the Royal Mail to fabricate and distribute image postcards, which might be transmitted via the post. It was initially believed that the very first UK postcards were created by printing company Stewarts of Edinburgh but after study, printed in Picture Postcard Monthly in 1991, has proven that the very first GB picture card has been released by ETW Dennis of Scarborough. 2 postmarked examples of this September 1894 ETW Dennis card have lived however no cards of Stewarts outdated 1894 have already been discovered. Ancient postcards were images of landmarks, panoramic views, photos or drawings of actors and so forth. Together with steam locomotives offering quick and very affordable traveling, the beachfront became a favorite tourist destination, also created its souvenir-industry.

In the early 1930s, cartoon-style saucy postcards became prevalent, and in the peak of the popularity the selling of saucy postcards attained a huge 16 million annually. They have been frequently bawdy in character, using innuendo and double entendres and traditionally featured stereotypical characters like vicars, big girls, and put-upon husbands, in precisely the exact same vein as the Carry On movies.

In the early 1950s, the recently elected Conservative authorities were concerned at the obvious deterioration of morals in Britain and determined by a crackdown on those postcards. The most important target of the effort was that the postcard artist Donald McGill. In the liberal 1960s, the saucy postcard was revived and afterwards was considered, by some, as an art form. But throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the standard of the art and humour began to deteriorate and, together with shifting attitudes towards the cards’ content, the demise of the saucy postcard occurred.



Postal cards. Technical requirements. Techniques of Control” (2000) gives the following definition:


The value of a postcard is mainly determined by the image illustrated on it. Other important factors for collectors can be countries, issuers, and authors. Online catalogs can be found on collector websites and clubs. These catalogs provide detailed information about each postcard alongside their picture. In addition, these websites include collection management tools, trading platforms, and forums to assist with discussions between collectors.

Value to historians

Old picture postcards are primary source records of places. Postcards document the natural landscape as well as the built environment- buildings, gardens, parks, cemeteries, and tourist sites. Postcards also commemorate major events, popular humor, and many other aspects of daily life — transportation, entertainment, sports, work, religion, or advertising. Postcards also give insight into how new forms of communication media are adopted, adapted, and discarded. Museums and archives have extensive collections of picture postcards; many of the postcards in these collections are digitized

Free postcards

Specialist marketing companies in many countries produce and distribute advertising postcards which are available for free. These are normally offered on wire rack displays in plazas, coffee shops and other commercial locations, usually not intended to be mailed.


The initial appearance of picture postcards (and the enthusiasm with which the new medium was embraced) raised some legal issues. Picture postcards allowed and encouraged many individuals to send images across national borders, and the legal availability of a postcard image in one country did not guarantee that the card would be considered”appropriate” in the destination country, or in the intermediate countries that the card would have to pass through. Some countries might refuse to handle postcards containing sexual references (in seaside postcards) or images of full or partial nudity (for instance, in images of classical statuary or paintings).

In response to this new phenomenon, the Ottoman Empire banned the sale or importation of some materials relating to the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 1900. Affected postcards that were successfully sent through the Ottoman Empire before this date (and are postmarked accordingly) have a high rarity value and are considered valuable by collectors.

Glossary of postcard terms 3D postcard

Postcards with artwork that appears in 3D. This can be done with different techniques, such as lenticular printing or hologram.

AppliquéA postcard that has some form of cloth, metal or other embellishment attached to it.Art DécoArtistic style of the 1920s, recognizable by its symmetrical designs and straight lines.

Folies Bergère costume, c. 1900.

Art NouveauArtistic style of the turn of the century, characterized by flowing lines and flowery symbols, yet often depicting impressionist more than representational art.Artist SignedPostcards with artwork that has the artist’s signature, and the art is often unique for postcards.Bas ReliefPostcards with a heavily raised surface, giving a papier-mâché appearance.Big LetterA postcard that shows the name of a place in very big letters that do not have pictures inside each letter (see also Large Letter).CompositesA number of individual cards, that when placed together in a group, form a larger picture. Also called”setup” cards. Court CardsThe official size for British postcards between 1894–1899, measuring 115 mm × 89 mm (4.5 in × 3.5 in).Divided BackPostcards with a back divided into two sections, one for the message, the other for the address. British cards were first divided in 1902 and American cards in 1907. Django FontinaA postcard written to a stranger, typically as a means of disseminating poetry.EarlyAny card issued before the Divided Back was introduced.EmbossedPostcards with a raised surface.FoldedPostcards that are folded, so that they have at least 4 pages. Most folded cards need to be mailed inside an envelope, but there are some that can be mailed directly.

Ōura Church, Hand-tinted postcard

Hand-tintedBlack-and-white images were tinted by hand using watercolors and stencils.Hold-to-LightAlso referred to as ‘HTL’, postcards often of a night time scene with cut out areas to show the light.Intermediate SizeThe link between Court Cards and Standard Size, measuring 130 mm × 80 mm (5.1 in × 3.1 in).KaleidoscopesPostcards with a rotating wheel that reveals a myriad of colours when turn

“Large Letter” card c. 1940s

Large LetterA postcard that has the name of a place shown as a series of very large letters, inside of each of which is a picture of that locale (see also Big Letter).Maximum CardsPostcards with a postage stamp placed on the picture side of the card and tied by the cancellation, usually the first day of issue.Midget PostcardsNovelty cards of the size 90 mm × 70 mm (3.54 in × 2.76 in).NoveltyAny postcard that deviates in any way from the norm. Cards that do something, or have articles attached to them, or are printed in an unusual size or on strange materials. An example is cards made of leather.OiletteA trade name used by Raphael Tuck & Sons for postcards reproduced from original paintings.PostcardeseThe style of writing used on postcards; short sentences, jumping from one subject to another.QSL CardsPostcards that confirms a successful reception of a radio signal on amateur radio.Real PhotographicAbbreviated to “RP.” Postcards made by a photographic, instead of a printing, process.Reward CardsCards which were given away to college kids for great work.Special Property CardsPostcards which are made from a substance aside from cardboard or comprises something created from cardboard.Standard SizeIntroduced from Britain in November 1899, measuring 140 millimeter × 89 mm (5.5 in × 3.5 in).

A Topographical postcard of Benwick

TopographicalPostcards showing street scenes and overall perspectives. Judges Postcards made several British topographical views.Undivided BackPostcards using a plain back at which all this space was utilized for the speech. This is normally with regard to Early cards, though undivided were in common setup till 1907. VignetteUsually discovered on undivided back cards, composed of a layout that doesn’t occupy all of the image side. Vignettes might be anything from a little sketch in 1 corner of this card, to some layout cover three quarters of this card. The aim is to leave some space for your own message to be composed, as the whole reverse of this card may only be used to your address.Write-AwayA card together with the opening line of a sentence, which the sender could then finish. Often found on ancient comic cards.