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Postcard

From Academic Kids

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British_postal_card_1890.jpg
British post card, used in 1890

A postcard or post card is a typically rectangular piece of thick paper or thin cardboard intended for writing and mailing without an envelope and at a lower rate than a letter. It is distinguished by stamp collectors from a postal card in that the postage is pre-printed on the latter, whereas a postcard requires a stamp. While a postcard is usually printed by a private company, individual or organization, a postal card is issued by the United States government. In the art world the postcard can also be translated into an art object. The art form where this is done is called mail art.

The study and collecting of postcards is called deltiology.

Brief history of postcards in the United States

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Pikespeak.jpg
Greetings from Pikes Peak, Colorado: A "large-letter" style American postcard from the linen era

Postcards had a long pre-history before they hit it big, but their breakout came in 1893 as the first picture postcard was created to advertise the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Shortly thereafter the United States government, via the United States Postal Service, allowed printers for the first time to publish a 1-cent postcard (the "Penny Postcard"). A correspondent's writing was allowed only on the front side of these cards.

1901 brought cards with the word "Post Card" printed on the reverse (the side without the picture). Written messages were still restricted to the front side, with the entire back dedicated to the address. This "undivided back" is what gives this postcard era its name.

The "divided back" card, with space for a message on the address side, came into use in the United States in 1907. Thus began the Golden Age of American postcards, which lasted until about 1915, when World War I blocked the import of the fine German-printed cards whose quality was unmatched in America.

The "white border" era, named for obvious reasons, lasted from about 1916 to 1930. The "linen card" era lasted from about 1930 to 1945, when cards were primarily printed on papers with a high rag content. The last and current postcard era, which began about 1939, is the "photochrome" or "chrome" era. The images on these cards are generally based on colored photographs, and they are readily identified by the glossy appearance given by the paper's coating.

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