THE HISTORY OF POSTCARDS

Use this information to help you determine the date a postcard was made.

Postcards were first mailed, pre-stamped at 1 cent, in the U.S. in 1873.  Picture postcards made a debut at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in May 1893.  They usually had an undivided back.

By 1901, the government granted permission for private companies to print and sell postcards.  These first included the term "Private Mailing Card" on the back, which was also undivided.  By the end of the year, the government allowed printers to use the term "Post Card" on the back.  The cards still had an undivided back which generally served solely for the address.  Therefore, most cards from 1901-1907 had writing on the front.

The "Golden Age" of postcards occurred from 1907-1915.  By the beginning of 1907, postcards had a divided back which allowed both the message and address room on the back.  The front of these postcards were filled with images, usually without a border.

Between 1915-1930, U.S. publishers printed postcards with a white border as a method to save ink.

Between 1930-1945, publishers utilized linen paper for a nicer feel.  Some of these still included white borders.

Since then, many publishers have used chrome colors and glossy formats.

The collection of postcards is known as "Deltiology."