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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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POSTCARDS. The first postcard was patented by John P. Charlton of Philadelphia in 1861. He sold the rights to H. L. Lipman, whose postcards featuring a decorated border were labeled "Lipman's postal card."

In 1873 the United States Postal Service began issuing pre-stamped postal cards because the public was looking for an easier way to send quick notes. The postal system was the only establishment allowed to print postcards; it held its monopoly until May 19, 1898. Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act which allowed private publishers and printers to produce postcards. At first, the United States government prohibited private companies from calling their cards “postcards.” They were known as “souvenir cards.” This prohibition was ended in 1901, but it was not until 1908 that people were permitted to write on the address side of a postcard.

Antique sketch of a Dubuque cross street in 1872.

In 1893 the first postcard in the United States in 1893 to advertise the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Following this, the United States Postal Service allowed printers to produce a 1-cent postcard (the "Penny Postcard"). Writing was allowed only on the front side of these cards. In 1908, more than 677 million postcards were mailed.

In 1901 cards appeared with the word "Post Card" printed on the reverse. Written messages were still restricted to the front side, with the entire back dedicated to the address. In 1907 the "divided back" card, with space for a message on the address side, came into use in the United States. The back was divided into two sections. The left section was used for the message and the right for the address.Tthe Golden Age of American postcards lasted until about 1915 when WORLD WAR I prevented importing fine German-printed cards.

The "white border" era lasted from about 1916 to 1930. The "linen card" era lasted from about 1931 to the early 1950s, when cards were primarily printed on papers with a textured surface similar to linen cloth. The last postcard era began about 1939. Called the "chrome" era, these types of cards did not begin to dominate until about 1950. The images on these cards are generally based on colored photographs and are identified by the glossy appearance given by the paper's coating.

Pages in category "Postcards"

The following 143 pages are in this category, out of 143 total.