Collecting Photographic Postcards

Photographic Postcards

are being recognized as art in their own right.  These real photo art studies of beautiful women, children, lovers, etc., were sometimes hand tinted in great detail and in colors which almost defy description.

But more common are what are now referred to as Real Photo Post Cards (RPPC).  These were created in small quantities, often by an amateur photographer for his own small circle of friends and family.  Photographic postcards are likely to be unique images that capture a moment, preserve a unique view or reveal the local character of a location.

The production of spontaneous and unique views was made easy by George Eastman’s development of a light, hand-held camera–The Kodak.  Eastman’s camera was preloaded with 100 exposures of film.  After shooting the photos, the whole camera was sent to Kodak for development.  The photographer had a choice of prints or real photo postcards. After 1902, Kodak began offering a card back to be made directly from negatives, which inspired photographers to sell their documentation of local attactions to local drugstores and stationery shops.  It is the spontaneous nature of these cards that is remarkable.  A unique view that captures the immediacy of the event is the result.

Some photo cards capture moments in timePhotographic cards are likely to depict specific events and actions, rather than buildings and landmarks.  Some photo postcards are the only existing image of a place or event.

Group Portrait Photograph in Vintage Car

Group Portrait Photograph in Vintage Car

Photo postcards were also a popular medium for portraits.  Individual or group portraits commemorated a special event or recorded the membership of a club.  These cards became keepsakes for scrapbooks and were treasured as personal memoribilia.  These cards are documentation of an organization or family history and can help to trace individuals or gain knowledge about an organization’s history.

Sources: The Encyclopedia of Antique Postcards© by Susan Brown Nicholson
University of Delaware Library

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