American postcards first used real photographs around 1900.
Prior to paper postcards, original cards were nothing but pieces of engraved, thin wood. The first paper postcards did not contain photographs or prints of any kind. They were simply addressed on one side with a section for a message on the back. In 1873 a government issued postcard was produced. Many other countries already utilized government issued cards. It was not until 1875 that the United States Postal Congress made an allowance that postcards could be sent internationally.
Until 1898, when Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act, only government issued postcards could be mailed. After this act, private companies were able to produce their own postcards for advertising and other purposes. It was the creation of these private postcard sales that set the foreground for real photograph postcards to be used at the turn of the 20th century. The first postcards with photographs were used as a souvenir for tourist attractions and popular destinations throughout the U.S. Most of the U.S. postcards were printed in Europe. Germany was known for the finest craftsmanship when it came to the artistic value of the postcard. The popularity of these postcards flourished until the beginning of World War 1 when European cards were more difficult to obtain.
The simplest way to determine the age of a postcard aside from the style of the card is to know how much it cost to mail a postcard in any particular period. These techniques, as well as others, are useful in estimating the age, and consequent value of a postcard.
The PAST Antiques Marketplace has a variety of early American Postcards. To view our full selection stop in to The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.
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