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Monday, January 25, 2021
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Postcard Images
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 Postal cards came about because the United States public was looking for an easy way to send quick notes. The United States Postal Service began to issue pre-stamped postal cards in 1873. It was the only entity allowed to print postcards, and it held its monopoly until May 19, 1898. In that year Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act which allowed private publishers and printers to produce postcards. The public could mail the private mailing cards for 1 cent instead of the letter rate of 2 cents. The term "Private Mailing Card" came into use because the USPS wanted to keep the postcards it produced distinguishable from those being produced privately. Private publishers were required to print "Private Mailing Card" on the backs of their cards. Postcards went through many phases when particular design features were popular, so even if a postcard is not dated or was never mailed, it may be possible to determine an appoximate time when it was printed.

See also the major periods of postcard publishing:

Private Mailing Cards Period, 1898-1901
Post Card Period, 1901-1907
Divided Back Period, 1907-1914
White Border Period, 1915-1930
Linen Period, 1930-1944
Modern Photochrome-style, 1939 - to date

Source: Postcards of the Smithsonian - Postcard Chronology at on 8/3/03

Private Mailing Card EraPost Card PeriodDivided Back PeriodWhite Border PeriodLinen Period
Modern Photochrome PeriodAmusing Postcards
Related Images: showing 8 of 256 (more results)
Here are some images from the Atheneum archive related to this topic. Click on any of these images to open a slideshow of all 256 images.
St. Mary's Church, DorchesterSavin Hill Bathing BeachSt. William's Church, DorchesterWalter N. Bakers Pharmacy
South Boston, Carney HospitalBoston, Mass. Sheep, Franklin ParkSheep at Franklin ParkWalter Baker Chocolate Mills
Do you know something about this topic? Do you have other pictures or items or knowledge to share? What about a personal story? Are you a collector? Do you have questions? Contact us here.
Created: July 24, 2003   Modified: November 29, 2003