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The Art of the Postcard

The Art of the Postcard …..

The art card is probably the most important category in antique postcards. Think of these cards as 3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ original high quality prints, which they are, instead of as postcards. Artists could make extra income by selling postcard prints of their work. This booming market drew the very best artists, creating a wealth of quality material unmatched in the art world.

Images were originally produced as Collotypes – a photomechanical process with the resulting images often hand coloured. But with the advent of Lithography especially photo-lithography quality was enhanced and production costs reduced. A magnified photo-lithograph shows a series of dots, produced by separating the image into light and dark areas or different colors with screens. Extremely fine screens could produce a very sharp image. A lithographic postcard might have up to 10 colors due to multiple passes through the press.

Postcards first appeared in the 1800s, but the ‘Golden Years’ were around the turn of the 20th Century up till the First World War. The shortage of paper, higher postal charges and the growing popularity of the telephone saw their popularity wane. Production recovered somewhat during the inter-war and immediate post WWII years with Valentines (Bird and Nature Series), The Medici Society, The Natural History Museum and Royle Publications, all publishing fine art prints of birds and landscapes. Artists such as Winfred Austen, Henrik Gronvold, D M Henry, S R Badmin, Charles Tunnicliffe and Rowland Hilder, patronised these publishing houses often producing work specifically designed for this market.

Today many artists still print and publish Postcards – and Greeting Cards – but that’s another story.

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