Colorizing Postcards

Photo postcards used to only be in black and white. While black and white is all well and good, postcard publishers quickly wanted to add a little color to their offerings.

Did you know that some companies specialized in colorizing postcards? Before cards were actually printed in color, greeting cards and postcards were sent off even to different countries to brighten the cards with exotic colors. This started with holidays like Christmas and Easter, but soon grew into a year-round practice.

The first colorizing started in Leith, Germany with a business called Lundy. Lundy started printing business messages in color.

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The first color postcards emerged starting in 1893, more than 20 years after the first postcard was published. Soon the color caught on, and everybody wanted color in their postcards! That set the ball rolling for a lucrative color postcard business, making postcards more in-demand than ever before.

Often, publishers sent photographs to India or Italy to be colored. Their exciting colors stood out to consumers. The brighter the colors, the better.

Collecting Linen Postcards

Linen postcards’ misleading name suggests postcards made out of fabric, but that is far from the case. They’re in fact made of paper: a textured, high quality paper.

What really makes linen postcards stand out is their saturated colors on top of the textured material. The card stock has a high rag content, meaning a higher content of cotton fiber and generally better quality. The embossed paper allows for quicker-drying ink, too.

Linen postcard were printed from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. Linen postcards usually had white borders, a carry-over from postcards between WWI and the 1920’s.

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Curt Teich Co. of Chicago printed the most linen postcards. Each postcard was numbered, making them easy to distinguish from each other and be carefully collected based on the number. Curt Teich also produced the famous “large letter” linen postcards, those cards popular among tourists and fans of the shining pinnacle of road trip-era America.

The categories of linen postcards vary; popular categories include scenics, comics, and travel postcards.

Do you collect linen postcards? As you can see, they’re easy to distinguish from other types of postcards. Let us know if you collect them, and what topics you like to collect, in the comments!

Looking for some more linen postcards of your own? Check no further than our ebay store!

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?