• 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. 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.
  • A SHORT HISTORY OF THE POSTCARD IN THE UNITED STATES By John McClintock IFPD President, International Federation of Postcard Dealers PIONEER ERA(1893-1898) Although there were earlier scattered issues, most pioneer cards in today's collections begin with the cards placed on sale at the Colombian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois on May 1, 1893. These were illustrations on government printed postal cards and on privately printed souvenir cards. The government postal card had the imprinted 1 cent stamp while the souvenir cards required a 2-cent adhesive postage stamp to be applied to it. Writing was not permitted on the address side of the card. PRIVATE MAILING CARD ERA (1898-1901) On May 19, 1898, private printers were granted permission, by an act of congress, to print and sell cards that bore the inscription "Private Mailing Card". Today we call these cards "PMC's". Postage required was now a 1 cent adhesive stamp. A dozen or more American printers began to take postcards seriously. Writing was still not permitted on the address side, however many publishers often left a wider border on the side or bottom of the view side so a short message could be added. POSTCARD ERA (1901-1907) The use of the word 'POST CARD' was granted by the government to private printers on December 4, 1901. In this era, private citizens began to take black and white photographs and have them printed on paper with post card backs. Writing was still not permitted on the address side. UNDIVIDED BACK ERA (1893-1907) The above three eras can also be grouped into the general heading of 'undivided back'. DIVIDED BACK ERA (1907-1914) Post cards with a divided back, that is, with a printed vertical line down the middle, were permitted starting March 1, 1907. The address to be written on the right side and written messages to be on the left. Many millions of cards were published in this period. Up to this point most cards were printed in Germany who was far ahead of this country in the lithographic processes. With the advent of World War I, the supply of post cards had to come from England to the United States. WHITE BORDER ERA (1915-1930) Most of our post cards were printed in the USA during this period. To save ink, a border was left around the view thus we classify them as "White Border Cards". High cost of labor, inexperience and public taste caused production of poor quality cards. High competition in a narrowing market caused many publisher to go out of business. LINEN ERA (1930-1944) New printing processes allowed printing on post cards with a high rag content that caused a "linen like" finish. These cheap cards allowed the use of gaudy dyes for coloring. The firm of Curt Teich flourished with their line of linen postcards. Many important events in history were recorded on these cards. PHOTOCHROME ERA (1945 to present) The "chrome" post cards started to dominate the scene soon after they were launched by the Union Oil Company in their western service stations in 1939. Mike Roberts pioneered with his "WESCO" cards soon after World War II. Three dimensional post cards also appeared in this era.

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