Before email, before Twitter, even before the telephone, a single medium allowed people to communicate cheaply and quickly, and with a side of vicarious globe-trotting: the postcard!
Beginning in the late-19th century, following new postal regulations that allowed for private postcard production, postcards began circulating around the country and world in astounding numbers. During the height of the craze between approximately 1907 and 1914, nearly 1 billion cards were sent through the US postal system each year.
For the price of a 2-cent postcard and 1-cent stamp, scenes of American life, art, humor, and design were disseminated from coast-to-coast. Iowa farm boys glimpsed big-city scenes from their cousins back East. Homemakers curated miniature museums of world sites and designs in the form of albums and scrapbooks. Beyond their aesthetic and geographic interest, postcards were a tool of communication. Death announcements, love proclamations, grocery lists - all were conveyed by the speedy and cheap paper item.
The so-called Golden Age of postcards tapered off beginning with WWI and associated tarrifs, which limited the availability of high-quality cards, generally printed in Germany at the time. Global conflict coincided with the rise of the telephone, ultimately ending the postcard's reign as the speedy and convenient communication device. But the beauty and interest of their images have maintained the postcard to the present day, largely as a means of showing people back home all of the cool stuff seen in your travels. Various card styles and printing methods have come in and out of prominence during these post-boom years.
In the process of printing, buying, and sending postcards, the postcard consuming public unwittingly created one of the richest troves of information on life in the 20th-century. No other antique object so economically and beautifully encapsulates the personal, social, and public histories of the past century as the postcard.
Paleogreetings give these incredible artifacts of our collective history a second life to be sent, admired, and collected.