Feb 15, 2006

obslogo.jpg (10497 bytes)


That’s how people kept in touch way back then and still do today. How did it all start?

The postcards that appeared in Europe around 1870 were monochromatic cards mostly printed from stone lithographs. The cards that really got everyone’s attention were the multi-colored cards that were produced around 1889 with pictures of the world’s newest marvel, Paris’ Eiffel Tower. These cards alone created a huge world-wide market.

Postcard collecting (Deltiology is the official name) ranks as one of the three largest hobbies in the world—coin and stamp collecting are the other two.

America’s postcard boom started with the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago--commonly known as “The Chicago World’s Fair.” This spectacular Exposition drew as many as 27,000 spectators daily who bought postcards as Fair souvenirs.

1900 saw the advent of the “Real Photo” postcard. Eastman Kodak realized the marketing potential and introduced a folding camera that allowed customers to have their black and white pictures printed right on postcard backs.

By 1907 the hobby of collecting postcards became the greatest collectible hobby ever known. The U.S. Post Office reported in 1908 that over 677 million postcards were mailed! This was an amazing figure when the entire population of the United States was only 88 million people.

During this postcard boom period, Germany dominated the postcard industry—their craftsmanship and superior technical knowledge gave them a huge edge. Unfortunately the devastation of WWI destroyed the German printing plants and publishing houses and they never recovered the market.

Gradually American technology and quality improved, and a giant leap forward was made in 1939 with the introduction of full-color “chrome” postcards that quickly took over the market—eliminating previously popular black & white and linen postcards.

The end of WWII saw a new love for travel develop with new roads and better cars. Americans love to travel and the best way to tell friends and relatives of their travel experience was to send a postcard announcing: “Having a Great Time! Wish You Were Here!”                           by Rob Carey

Click on view all to see the Remembering When ...  library

Click here to return to the Pictorial History home page

Click here to return to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society home page