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!

Colorful & Delightful German Notgeld

Notgeld is quite possibly the most beautiful currency around, which is why it’s so popular with collectors.

Notgeld comes in thousands of designs, all of which have beautiful colors or tell small stories in a tiny space. For any kind of currency, notgeld is remarkably colorful. Notgeld can be printed as a banknote, coin, or in another form.

If it’s not official currency, why was notgeld created in the first place?

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During World War I, German villagers started making their own, local currency. Inflation had caused the material of coins to have a higher value than the coins’ denominations, causing people and businesses to start hoarding the coins. Said metals were also needed for war supplies, making coins less common and paper banknotes more practical.

Towns and villages started making their own currency. The first notgeld wasn’t so exciting; the issues were not colorful and existed only for practical purposes. However, later notgeld featured local buildings and landmarks, making each kind of notgeld more personal for locals.

If a German banknote has Reichbanknote written on it, it’s a note created by the state and is not notgeld.

Not = emergency or necessity

Geld = money

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Soon, collectors noticed notgeld for its lovely colors. Printers started making sets even after they ceased to meet any economic demand. These were the more colorful sets, which included local folklore stories. These sets, which didn’t go into circulation, were called Serienscheine. They were produced up until 1922.

Germany saw a hyperinflation starting in 1922, causing the need for new runs of notgeld in order to keep up with inflation. But soon other materials became their own kinds of notgeld, like wheat, rye, sugar, coal, or gold, as pieces with a fixed value.

The rarest kind of notgeld is made of coal dust. Coal notgeld burned for fuel, making a coal piece a rare find.

Germany was not the only country to print notgeld: Sweden, Belgium and France also printed notgeld (coins or currency) at one time or another.

A Brief History of the Postcard

For as long as the postal system has existed, people have been posting cards in the mail. The cards just weren’t labeled as postcards yet.

The first known “postcard” lookalike went through the mail in 1840, painted on the front and sent to English writer Theodore Hook with a penny black stamp. Rumors say he sent the card to himself as a taunt to postal workers, judging by the postal worker caricatures painted on the card.

Postcards officially happened in 1861 when H. L. Lipman bought the patent for commercially available cards. Said cards had a decorative border and not much else, allowing plenty of space for writing the address on the front and a full space on the other side for the note. Writing took priority over any pretty pictures.

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A postcard with an undivided back.

The first postcard with a printed image came in 1870. Camp Conlie, a training camp for soldiers in the Franco-Prussian war, made a lithographed design with the inscription “War of 1870. Camp Conlie. Souvenir of the National Defence. Army of Brittany”. However, these cards may have been sent in envelopes, making them less postcard-like.

The Edwardians brought postcard fads to a whole new level. They used postcards (thus renamed from “private mailing cards”) for sending information on every little thing going on in their lives, not unlike today’s text messaging and social media. This was the age of postcards with undivided backs, when people could only write on the front of the card.

An Edwardian postcard showing a little girl with a crown of flowers.

An Edwardian postcard.

During WWI postcards were popularly sent from soldiers. These “silks” were high quality cards and frequently passed from soldiers to family members as a way of greeting.

In the 1920s, dyes grew brighter and postcards became embossed to help with the new kind of ink. Humorous postcards also became very popular around this time.

Linen postcards entered the market from 1931 to 1959. Though not actually made out of linen, these cards had a linen-like texture to them. Many popular postcard companies made these at the time, like Curt Teich, E. C. Kropp, and more.

A typical British seaside postcard

A typical British seaside postcard

In the 1950s, Donald McGill and other artists made numerous successful British seaside postcards, many of which made innuendos and double entendres. The British government became concerned about Britain’s morals and made the decision to prosecute Donald McGill for obscenity. Though his postcards weren’t the most risque at the time, he was more popular than other postcard artists, making him the messenger to other risque postcard artists.

The 1980s did see a resurgence of seaside postcards with much more risque images, this time without the restrictions of the 1950s to stop their publication. Less saucy postcards of the British seaside still continue in popularity today.

In later years, postcards have become a conglomeration of subjects, with no one subject or material being more popular than the other. But postcards still stand their ground as essential tourism items and ways to say hello to loved ones in print.

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!

What Happened to Pocket Watches?

Pocket watches used to be the necessary accessories to any gentleman’s waistcoat pocket. They brought charm and practicality to any ensemble.

The first timepieces were worn in the 16th century in Europe, at a size somewhere between clocks and watches, worn around the neck. Early versions had no glass to protect the dial.

Sure, they got heavy, and only had hour hands, but someone had to keep the time.Pocketwatch03

Pocket watches appeared for men in the 17th century, with women still wearing watches as pendants. The watches were luxury items for a while, but became common by the end of the 18th century.

This came with the attempt to standardize time to make public services more precise and aid scientific experiments. In 1891 a train’s engineer’s watch ran four minutes behind and caused an infamous Ohio train wreck, pushing the change.

Later on, a family in Switzerland headed the watchmaking business with streamlining production in an efficient way, leading to a larger watch industry. This included the American Watch Company, which was able to make over 50,000 watches a year.PocketWatch02

After all this, wristwatches took over in the 20th century. Before then many men considered wristwatches too feminine, but the advent of World War I brought the practicality of wristwatches into view, where officers found them more convenient on the wrist than kept in a pocket and liable to fall out.

While pocket watches declined in popularity, they continued to be used at railroads, where as proved by the Ohio accident, precise timekeeping was necessary.

An antique, early 1900s pocket watch, available here.

An antique, early 1900s pocket watch, available here.

Today, the practicality of cell phones usually wins over other timepieces. Pocket watches are used simply as fashion statements instead, some of which don’t even tell time.

If you’re lucky, however, you can find a good, handmade vintage pocket watch that looks stylish and tells time.