Postcards. If you're old you probably remember being able to go to the post office and get one for about 3 cents. They weren't much to look at but they were a quick and easy way to drop off a message to someone without having to stuff a letter in an envelope.

Well, believe it or not, postcards have a fairly long history in the United States. Oh, and just for the record, the official name for postcard collecting is Deltiology. And currently postcard collecting is the third largest collectable hobby in the world. The only thing that tops it is stamps and coins. In the US it is also topped by baseball cards but that is purely a national thing. Post cards are popular because they have a very broad appeal. You can get a postcard with a photo of just about anything on it, with world landmarks such as buildings and bridges being the most popular things that you'll find. Today, travelers from all over the world collect postcards as reminders of where they have been and the landmarks they've visited.

For example, if a person was visiting New York City and went to the Empire State Building they could, upon leaving, pick up a postcard of the building itself right there. No need to search one out. They are as easy to find as ants at a picnic.

The first postcard was printed in 1861 during the Civil War. It was printed by J. P. Carlton. Eventually his copyright was transferred to H. L. Lipman. These are now known as Lipman Postal Cards. They continued to sell until 1873 when they were replaced by the U.S. Government postcards.

Between 1870 and 1898 was what was known as the pioneer era of postcards. This is when postcards started turning up in countries like Hungary, Great Britain, France and Germany. The first card showing a photo of the Eiffel Tower was printed in 1889.

The first of what was known as "exposition" cards was printed in the United States in 1873. It was a photo of the main building of Inter-State Industrial Exposition in Chicago. This card was not originally intended as a souvenir card but soon became a very sought after collectable and today is worth a lot of money. It should be noted that during this period all privately printed cards were required to have two cent postage while the government cards only required one cent postage.

It wasn't until 1998 that American publishers were allowed to print what were called Private Mailing Cards. These cards were printed with one cent stamps, the same as the United States Government issues. This was authorized by an act of congress on May 19, 1898. This was the most significant event to explode the use of private postal cards. Just like with the Government cards and the pioneer cards before them, writing on these cards was reserved for the front side of these cards only.

By: Michael Russell
Article Source: Postcard Guide
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