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(Please click here for a truly rich and detailed web resource for dating and discovering much more about old postcards.)Long before smartphones, tablet computers, email and social media, people would send all sorts of postcards to their family, friends and loved ones.The subjects of these postcards included everything under the sun, from locally- or amateur-made photographic scenes or portraits (often referred to these days as “real photo postcards” or RPCs) all the way up to mass-produced color lithographs or halftone postcards of major tourist destinations around the world (and Jackalopes, don’t forget the Jackalopes).Today, however, individuals can create and instantly share real-time travel photos (and the dreaded selfie) over social media, making the physical postcard somewhat obsolete or anachronistic.A mass-produced halftone souvenir postcard from Luna Park in Scranton, PA.In many cases these postcards were never intended to be sent, but rather kept in the family album or archive.Often these postcards are the ONLY images of a particular scene, event or family grouping that exists, and are thus VERY important to archivally preserve.“Cousin Lloyd Standing on His Head.” While many of us think of postcards as mass-produced color images depicting some scenic tourist destination somewhere, there were millions of often one-of-a-kind “private” photographs that were created on postcard-sized photo paper.
These run-of-the-mill color postcards are kinda boring, so while I a family / family history with some of the other postcards I have in my collection that I acquired over the years as I bummed around in antique shops (remember antique shops, all you pre-e Bay baby boomer types? Those postcards need the same level of archival protection, so why not use those to explain proper archival procedures and to illustrate my points.
Please Note: a postmark date indicates when a postcard was mailed, not necessarily when it was first created.
This date does, however, allow you to know specifically when the card was actually used by the friend or relative who originally sent it.
In all seriousness, folks, this is the back of the same postcard and on it was written the names of who’s who / where they lived.
This is tremendously valuable, as it identifies the family tree in very unique and irreplaceable ways.The factory shown in the background built the 2.) postcard collections assembled by “deltiologists“—postcard collectors—who are interested in a particular topic / location / genre / physical “type” of postcard (photographic, chromolithographic, embossed, animated, etc.) / era / or any of a thousand-plus other collector categories and sub-groups.Reasons why a collector might be interested in this particular postcard: 1.) it’s an RPC (real photo postcard) and many people collect these often one-of-a-kind images 2.) it depicts a baseball game (for baseball-theme collectors) 3.) these are American soldiers in France during World War I (gleaned from info on the back) 4.) this is an unposed “amateur snapshot” postcard (for those who collect amateur images)More often than not, these two categories overlap or run parallel to each other.BTW, while the park was a bit of a flop, Uncle Lathrop’s Whack-a-Mole booth in the arcade was a big hit (no pun intended). In fact, collecting postcards has never been more popular, as vintage postcards offer a fascinating window onto the past—both public and private.