Did you know?
Postcard collecting is the
world's third largest collectable hobby. It is surpassed only by
coin and stamp collecting. In the U.S., it is the fourth largest
hobby, as baseball collecting is higher. It is also the most
popular form of souvenir for travelers.
History - Though cards with messages
had been sporadically created and posted by individuals since the creation
of postal services, due to government postal regulations, the regular use
were a long time in developing. Before
there were envelopes printed with pictures on them. The earliest known
picture postcard was a hand-painted design on card, posted in London in
The first postal
type card in the U.S. was a privately printed card copyrighted in 1861.
This card had a decorated border but no images.
The first known printed picture
postcard, with an image on one side, was created in France in 1870 at Camp
Conlie, a training camp for soldiers. The next year the first known
picture souvenir postcard was sent from Vienna and the first advertising
card appeared in 1872 in Great Britain. In the U.S. the Post Office was
the only establishment allowed to print postcards until May 19, 1898, when
Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act which allowed private
publishers and printers to produce postcards. Several years later, the
first souvenir postcard in the U.S. was created in 1893 to advertise the
World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Chrome - Most of the postcards of today
are of the chrome type, which is derived from the word "photochrome."
These types of cards began to be printed in 1939 and are generally of high
photo quality and feature vivid colors. By the mid-1950's most linen
postcards were discontinued. These are also referred to as "modern."
Continental - These postcards are
slightly larger than standard size postcards, usually measuring 4x6
inches. They were popular in the U.S. beginning in the mid-1970's.
Linen - These cards are printed on
linen-like paper that appears to have a woven or criss-cross pattern. They
were primarily printed from 1930 to the early 1950's.
Over Sized - The standard postcard size
during early 20th Century was 3.5 x 5.5 inches; the standard modern
postcard size is 4 x 6 inches. Any card larger than these sizes is
Real Photographic - Also called "real photo" and
"RP," these cards are produced by a photographic process, rather than
printing. Though utilized from 1900 to present, they were particularly
popular at the same time as linen postcards, from the early 1930's through
the early 1950's.
Standard - Refers to the "standard"
size of postcards -- 3.5x5.5 inches. Until the mid-1970's most U.S. cards
were this size.
White Border - Produced from about 1915
through the early 1930's, these postcards have white borders and paler
colors than earlier postcards. Though some modern postcards of today have
white borders, they are not considered "white border" postcards.
of America, updated August, 2015.