I love postcards. I send them, collect them, and even make them. In my latest Flickr album, You’ve Got Mail, I included a 1939 photo of what was described as the “largest postcard ever sent through the mail.” A regular postcard cost one cent to mail in that year.
I spot an interesting error in the original caption for the photo. It states that “it took $1.50 in stamps to carry the card.” Being a stamp nerd, I wanted to get a closer look at the postage on the card. This was possible because of the high-resolution scan made from the original glass negative. Look at all the postage in the upper right corner of the postcard! When zooming in on the TIFF, I saw that at least two different stamps were used to send the card. I could make out the stamp on the right as the 1939 New York World’s Fair 3-cent stamp:
There are fifty of that stamp on the card, which alone amounts to $1.50 in postage. But there are 100 other stamps on the card to the left of the Trylon and Perisphere. I can’t see those stamps clearly enough to identify them, but from what I can see, I suspect that they could be from the presidential series of stamps first issued in 1938. But there were over twenty denominations in that series, and I can’t see the stamp clearly enough to determine which one it is:
We may never know just how much postage was needed to mail the postcard.
It seems to me that mailing postcards, large or regular-sized, is on its way to becoming a lost art.
This was not the case in the early 20th century. Communicating with family and friends via postcards was extremely popular. In this 1906 Detroit Publishing Company photo taken in the Michigan resort town of Petoskey, I spot four separate displays of postcards. On one, the cards are advertised as 2 for 5 cents:
That price is beaten by this newsstand in New Orleans, where cards are 3 for a nickel, or 15 cents for a dozen!
I wish I could find a shop like this today. There must be thousands of cards for sale at this Cincinnati establishment:
Postcards were still popular in the 1930s as you can see in this photo from San Juan:
The young lady at this patriotically decorated stand has a number of postcards for sale, presumably of the mining activities in and around Hibbing, Minnesota:
- Browse the Flickr album You’ve Got Mail.
- Study a research guide on postcards.
- Read other blog entries in Picture This that include postcards.