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Monday, May 4, 2009

National Postcard Week

The first full week of May each year marks National Postcard Week (in the U.S.). Early in the 20th century, postcard enthusiasts sent "Postcard Day" cards on May 1st, but the modern celebration began in 1984 as a way for sellers and collectors to promote the hobby of postcard collecting.

I thought it'd be fun to share some of my favorite postcards from the Museum's Lake County collections. There are about 2,700 postcards in that collection (not to mention the millions in the Teich Archives). So, I concentrated my search on the Chain of Lakes area and found examples of several types of postcards.

One of my all-time favorite views is this colorized one from Stilling's Summer Resort at Pistaqua Bay, Illinois. The message is written on the "front" of the card as required on early postcards. Mildred wrote: "Dear Helen. This is the only postal that they have here." And what a lovely one, indeed.

The reverse side of the postcard shows the address, a McHenry postmark, and a penny stamp. The address side of the postcard was only for addresses until 1907 when a space was created for the message.

Real photo postcard of the Wisconsin Central Railroad at the Antioch depot, circa 1910. Train enthusiasts will love this view for obvious reasons, but I enjoy the slice of life aspect of the people and their baggage, and the milk can sitting on the platform. Photo postcards were as popular as printed views. As an added bonus to historians, they are a unique documentary record because the photos got little or no touch-ups in production, unlike picture postcards which were often altered.

C.R. Childs is probably my favorite postcard producer. I'm partial to Childs because I love photographs, and his are exquisite. Also, Childs produced hundreds of views of Lake County. The Museum has about 600 of them in its collection. This photo postcard of Lake Marie, Antioch is from about 1913 and is typical of the quality of the Childs Company of Chicago.

Charles R. Childs (1875 – 1960) started producing postcards in 1906 and continued into the 1950s. As shown on the reverse of the Lake Marie postcard, it is stamped "Salesman's Sample." This indicates that the card was taken around by a company salesman to potential buyers such as general stores, and ice cream parlors. The store would order a quantity or might even commission a specific view.

This Curt Teich Company chrome printed postcard from 1956 (6CK500) for the George Diamond restaurant in Milwaukee, Chicago and Antioch always makes me chuckle. In a good way. It's a terrific representation of steakhouses of that era, and also reminds me of my grandfather who loved to grill steaks in his backyard. George Diamond is seen here preparing a steak in front of one of his open charcoal broilers.

Happy Postcard Week to one and all!

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