Homepage | David K Petersen

Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



david k petersen

        How to Identify Real Photo Postcards

        During the early part of the 1900's when people fell in love with their box cameras they went out and photographed everything they could find. In the process they documented a tremendous amount of local history and in having their photographs printed on postcard stock created a very popular collecting niche.

        The real photo postcard is exactly that, a photograph developed onto paper stock the size of a postcard that had a printed back and a stamp box. There are other types of postcards of town views as an example that are printed. You can tell the difference by taking a magnifying glass and looking at your card. If you see tiny dots that make up the image you have a printed card, like that of a newspaper or magazine, if it's solid then it will be a real photo postcard.

        Scottville Harvest Festival

        One of the attractive attributes in collecting these types of postcards is that there may only be one of that particular scene developed from someone's personal roll of film. A great many family portraits and scenes of daily life were also produced as a economical, and fun way to share family photos with friends and relatives for the price of a penny stamp.

        Professional photographers also produced an abundance of real photo cards and offered them for sale as a means of supplementing their income. Tornadoes, floods, street scenes, parades, school children, lighthouses, boats and county buildings were popular subjects.

        Scottville Harvest Festival

        The 2 postcards I have here are of the Scottville Barbecue of 1910. The card with the wagon has a sign stating "Going to the Scottville Barbeque Oct 14,15,16 '10. Without a sign or date inscribed in the photo these can be dated by the postmark if it was mailed or by the printed stamp box on the back.

        About two dozen companies produced postcard stock, AZO, from 1904 to the 1940's , and the date of production can be narrowed further by looking at the stamp box. As example if the triangles all point up it was produced from 1904 to 1918.

        Scottville Harvest Festival

        ARGO, from 1905 to 1920 and on these 2 cards CYKO which dates the cards from 1904 to the mid 1920's, well within the date of 1910 on the sign next to the wagon. Postage can be an indicator but cards were often mailed many years after they were produced. Prior to 1963 we used a two digit zip code in between the City and State, from 1963 to 1983 a five digit code.

        Historically real photo cards are significant, they can be valuable and they are fun to collect and research. What's in your shoebox?

        Scottville Harvest Festival

        If you have postcards that you wish to approximate the date for you can use the chart below to help give you an idea as to what the age is. Real Photo cards can have a value as little as a quarter and as much as a couple hundred dollars depending on the subject matter, condition, postmark etc. A postcard of the Titanic mailed from Liverpool England on the day that the Titianic sailed on it's maiden voyage is worth more then one mailed 6 months after it sank.

        A postcard of a fire or flood written on the back by someone who witnessed it has more historical value to collectors and bookwriters then one talking about going to the beach.

        A card can sell one week on ebay for 100.00 and the next week for 10.00, there are many factors that go into value and pricing. A Ludington Mariners Real Photo card taken by Elliott usually brings $100.00 or more.


        ANSCO1940-19602 Stars at top & bottom
        AZO1926-1940sSquares in corners
        AZO1904-19184 triangles pointed up
        AZO1918-1930Triangles 2 up, 2 down
        AZO1907-1909DIAMONDS in corners
        AZO1922-1926Empty Corners
        DEFENDER1910-1920Diamond above & below
        DEFENDER1920-1940Diamond inside
        Devolite Peerless1950- 
        KRUXO1910-1920sXs in corners
        SAILBOAT1905-1908Sailboat in circle
        SOLIO1903-1920sDiamonds in corners
        VELOX1907-1914Diamonds in corners
        VELOX1901-1914Squares in corners
        VELOX1909-1914Triangles: 4 pointed Up

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        Classic Views

        Every image used in the history columns is available for purchase from CLASSIC VIEWS for as a little as 1.00 for a 4x6 picture. T-Shirts, Mugs, Calendars and a wide assortment of other products are also available. Your purchase helps to support my efforts to place free history and genealogy resources online and offsets the costs associated with this effort.

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