Large Letter “Greetings From” Postcards

The linen postcard era saw one particularly popular design. Made for travelers to brag about the destinations they made it to on long summer road trips in America, large letter postcards showed the biggest, flashiest, most fun side of any city.

These large letter postcards, now often associated with the 1930’s through 1950’s eras that the postcards were most popular in, had their time in the spotlight in the U.S. They usually started with the words “Greetings From,” followed by large letters or numbers with pictures of the city inside. These cards had bright, saturated colors as a result of the new kinds of inks on the market at the time. They also had a soft focus; the uneven surfaces of linen postcards did not lend themselves to sharp edges. All of this added to a bright, romanticized view of whatever destination the postcard advertised.

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These postcards are quite popular among collectors. Some collect them form their own state, or try to collect one from every state.

Today, any sort of large letter image invokes an image of vintage, roadside America. It’s part of their retro charm that makes large letter design so easily recognizable.

Do you collect large letter postcards? Which ones are your favorites?

Want some large letter postcards of your own? You can go here.

Photochrom Postcards

Photochroms (also spelled photochromes) are postcard varieties born from chromolithography. These stunning images make wonderful collectors’ items.

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How are photochroms made? Black and white photo negatives are colorized by transferring the negatives onto lithographic plates. This produces a color profile unique to the process that is very distinguishable from color photographs.

You can buy this photochrom postcard by Tuck & Sons here!

You can buy this photochrom postcard by Tuck & Sons here!

 

An employee of the longstanding printing firm Orell Gessner Fussli, named Hans Jakob Schmid, invented the photochrom process. Other companies picked up the process in the 1890’s when photochroms reached the height of their popularity. Color photography was made possible at the time, but chromolithography was easier and more convenient.

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When the Private Mailing Card Act let private publishers make postcards, thousands of photochrom postcards were produced.

Even after 1910 when photochrom’s popularity ended, companies continued to print photochroms, usually in the forms of posters and art prints. The last photochrom printer closed its doors in the 1970’s.

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The Zurich Central Library has the world’s largest collection of digitalized photochrom prints; many are available online.

Do you collect photochroms?

World War I Silk Embroidered Postcards

Embroidered postcards made their first appearance at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. Collectors can still find these lovely cards today, though it’s difficult to find them in great condition since many have faded from being placed on window sills or displayed close to sunlight.

Embroidered postcards reached a level of popularity during WWI from 1914-1918 that would never be reached again, thanks to soldiers on duty who would send these bright, colorful cards home to loved ones.

You won’t get this level of detail from any postcards today. It was mostly French and Belgian women refugees who hand-embroidered the designs onto silk mesh, which were then sent to factories for putting on postcard material.

Many of these postcards were actually envelopes, prepped for carrying even smaller cards with sentiments like “To my dear Mother.”

Up to 10 million handmade cards were made during the war!

These postcards became very popular with British and American soldiers in France. You can clearly see the patriotic themes in the cards; almost all of them have British, French, or American flags.

Starting in 1930, machines made simpler cards with less character; the unique silks had lost their time in the sun.  But if you’re lucky you can still find and own these special historical postcards.

 

Sources:

Propaganda cards

Library of Birmingham

Vintage Blog

The Tales Behind World War I Postcards

A number of vintage postcards from the era of WWI give us insight into the thoughts of the people living through the war. Some are insightful and some are a little ridiculous, showing the rumors surrounding battle.

One of the more science fiction-y postcards emerged from the invention of tanks. Before many had even seen the things, artists drew what they thought the tanks actually looked like, making for amusing illustrations.

The drawings were probably influenced by this gem from The Times: “the gratifying fact seems to be, that our inventors have not hesitated boldly to tread unbeaten paths…unearthly monsters eased in steel, spitting fire, and crawling laboriously but unceaselessly over trenches, barbed wire, and shell craters, which, had they been conceived by imaginative novelists, would have been regarded fantastical.”

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Notice the pincers on the front.

Another WWI postcard shows an account of a popular legend, which tells the story of St. George and an army of medieval English bowmen appearing in the sky during battle and shooting spectral arrows at the Germans. In later stories the bowmen became angels, and people often heard through the grapevine about soldiers seeing angels on the field “with their own eyes”.

This inspired this postcard, featuring art by W. H. Margetson:

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“The Angels of Mons”

Another war story surrounded by rumor involved zeppelins. Rumors in the British Isles claimed that there was a secret German base nearby that flew over towns at night. While this rumor was dismissed, another zeppelin event did occur that later showed up on a postcard. Zeppelin SL20 was seen in the sky and pilots climbed their planes into the sky to shoot it down. Soon, the zeppelin caught fire and fell to the ground.

An unknown artist depicted the event, showing the moment when the flaming mass fell out of the sky, surrounded by spotlights and glimpses of surrounding planes. The moment is frozen on this postcard:

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These are just a few of the postcards that give glimpses into the tales surrounding WWI. There are many more out there to keep your eyes open for!

Have you ever ran into vintage postcards that give great snapshots of moments in history? Let us know in the comments!