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

In this edition we are going to take a step back and pick up where we left off talking about the different eras and styles of postcards. We had explored the real beginning of the postcard phenomenon in this country with the 1892 World's fair and introduction of Private mailing cards in 1898. We looked at Souvenir postcards, Real Photo postcards, undivided and divided backs and Lithographic cards. The period of postcard production up to about 1915 was the Golden Age of Postcards and represented the finest production of quality cards from skilled artists and well known companies. Millions of cards were produced and collected. The Golden age of postcards came to an end at first not because of the waning of public interest as much as the result of the war in Europe and the end of our trade with Germany where much of the best work was done. After the War the decreased quality in the cards, increased use of the telephone to keep in touch with friends and family and the popularity of the silent movies finished what the war had started. The collecting value of the earlier cards is also much greater then those of the cards printed after 1915 [with the exception of Real Photo Postcards that held their own for awhile even after the Photo-Chrome arrived on the scene] The replacement cards that were produced in the United States during and after World War I were simply not of the same quality and lost much of their collecting appeal.

Ludington Star Watchcase

White Border Postcards, produced from 1915 to about 1930 were just that, an image surrounded by a white border. Our example is of the Watchcase and postmarked 1927. The printers saved ink during the war years by not printing to the edge of the postcard. The color was often bright, and the skies blue.

Ludington Public Library

Linen Postcards such as this view of the Public Library in Ludington were produced on paper with a high rag content from 1930 to about 1944. This gave the card the appearance of being printed on fabric, or linen and these postcards also used bright colors, and when you examine the back of the postcard you will often find a description of the image printed on the front. The value of a Linen postcard is often much less then that of white border or other cards and it's not unusual to see these types of cards sell for pennies.

Downtown Ludington

Photo Chrome Postcards arrived in 1939 and are the closest to a real photo postcard in quality and also could brag about their true to life color. These are our Modern Postcards and the ones most people are familiar with. Our example shows Main (Daul's) News at the Ludington and James Street intersection, you can also see JJ Newberry's on the left. With a few exceptions Chrome postcards also do not bring much in terms of monetary value but they do document some interesting changes in our view of America during the 1940's forward. Collectors show an interest in specialty images such as Roadside Attractions, Diners, Motels, Drive Ins, Downtowns and some Tourist trap type stores. Postcard production changed rapidly during the 40's and 50's and many producers of linen and even real photo cards had to change over to producing Photo-Chrome cards or go out of business. Postcards continued to hold a place though in American culture, especially as we began to travel more and as our interstate systems of roads and lodging improved many scrapbooks were filled with postcard views. Even today the postcard still holds a place of providing cheap communication for travelers, an economical souvenir from trips and vacations to remind them of their getaway weekends, and an economical way to advertise one's business. The postcard continues to evolve and even with the advent of the internet you can't keep the postcard down as millions of free virtual postcards are sent via email to friends and family. I wonder if anyone is collecting them in their own virtual album?

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