P: Postcards

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0P: Postcards

alligator nest frontToday, I’m sharing a snippet of postcard history from my ebook, Dear Arlie: Postcards to a Friend (1907-1913). Vintage postcards are such fun. I could spend a fortune on those in the antique stores I visit.

Postcard History

Postcards aren’t as old as the postal service, but they’ve still been around for a long time.

The earliest known postcard was mailed in London, in 1840. In the US, the first postcard was one that had advertising on it, postmarked December 1848.

alligator nest backPrior to 1898, the Post Office was the only entity allowed to print postcards. The Private Mailing Card Act, which Congress passed on May 19, 1898, allowed private companies to produce cards. They couldn’t be called ‘postcards’, they had to be called ‘souvenir cards’ or ‘Private Mailing Cards’. This changed on December 24, 1901, when legislation allowed private companies to use the word ‘postcard’.

These early cards did not have the divided back that we all recognize today. The back was for the postage and the mailing address only. Any correspondence had to be written on the front of the card. This changed on March 1, 1907, when the Post Office relaxed its regulations and allowed citizens to write on the address side of a postcard.

The earliest card in this set from Pauline to Arlie, is one of the ‘undivided back’ cards. Although it was mailed three months after the regulations changed (postmarked June 27, 1907), it was still mailed in the old manner of having correspondence on the front of the card and only the addressee on the back.

Once the postcards had divided backs, they quickly gained in popularity, peaking in 1910 and dying down by 1915 when World War I interrupted the importation of German printed cards. In 1908, more than 677 million postcards were mailed. A good many of these now reside in various antique stores around the nation, laying in baskets and bins, waiting for someone to admire them and take a few home.

Postcards are still popular, mostly for the souvenir aspect. We take a vacation and send friends and family little mementos of our travels. Now, between telephones, email and texting cell phones, the day to day information we need to convey to one another goes a little quicker than the good old days method of dropping a penny postcard in the mail.

Dear Arlie_LKO cover


12 thoughts on “P: Postcards

  1. Trisha, as a pen paller l am a post card collector, when we go on trips, l buy myself a postcard and either write about that day and post it home to myself OR stick it in my journal, and ask my son to do the same, it’s a good way to get a mini journal snippet and a photo! I first did that in 2000 when I went on my first solo trip to America, I was writing postcards home to the children, so I wrote myself one and posted it too. I save them all.


    • THANK YOU!!
      I love vintage postcards. These are special because I grew up next door to Pauline. Of course, then, she was just one of the two ‘old spinsters’ next door. That’s why I loved finding these post cards of hers that I’d forgotten I had. It showed me a little piece of Pauline the young lady in a time from so long ago.
      I hope you enjoy the book.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Postcards are a big hobby of mine. Every place that I visit I buy a pack of post cards from. Since Japan is still very much into the personal snail mail correspondence, they’re everywhere here. Postcards are sent out during the New Year to friends and relatives, like sending Christmas cards in the west. The more expensive New Years cards are actually a charity lottery. Half the proceeds do to a specific charity, and what’s left is divided between the retailer and the prize money. The cards have a serial number on the back and if your number is drawn, you’re a winner!

    Since I live so far from home, it’s a special joy for me to send cards to my friends and family every month, from all the cool places I visited and interesting things that I’ve seen.



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