The government postal cards included a printed 1-cent stamp; the privately printed souvenir cards required a 2-cent adhesive postage stamp to be attached. The term Post Card was not widely used until the early 1900s (it was later contracted to "postcard" as a word-counting cost-saving measure). Government-issued cards were to be designated as Postal Cards (Staff, p. Writing was still not permitted on the address side.
Messages were not permitted on the address side of the cards; after attempting various forms of explaining that regulation, the U. Post Office adopted the printed message that This side is for the address only (Staff, p. Other backs from this pioneer era of the American post card are known today as Souvenir Card and Mail Card. In this era, private citizens began to take black and white photographs and have them printed on paper with post card backs.
Instead, linen actually refers to the surface texture of the postcard—prior to the early 1930s, it was not economically feasible to print anything of quality on embossed papers.
Two of the key traits of linen postcards are their saturated colors, recalling the Phostints produced by the Detroit Photographic Company in the early part of the century, and their soft focus, the result of the cards’ uneven surfaces.
Any other alpha character after the number indicates it has more than one subject listing or the same number was used on two different views.
It is believed that in some cases the same view was ordered by another company and the card was printed with "A" or "R" preceding the number.
A small number of cards also filed with this series begin with "BS," "DT," "RG," and "RT." After approximately 1924, the "A" or "R" may not appear on the card at all.
Compiled by Todd Ellison, Certified Archivist (last revised 8/7/2006)Although the world's first picture postcards date from the 1860s to the mid-1870s, most of the earliest American picture postcards extant today are those that were sold at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, starting on May 1, 1893. At this time, a dozen or more American printers began to take postcards seriously.
These were illustrations on government-printed postal cards and on privately printed souvenir cards. Congress on May 19, 1898 granted private printers permission to print and sell cards that bore the inscription Private Mailing Card. Still, no message was permitted on the address side. postal regulations on December 24, 1901 stipulated that the words Post Card should be printed at the top of the address side of privately printed cards.
Postcards that are actual photographic replications were first produced around 1900.