Souvenir Cards


Almost all pioneer cards were dedicated to advertising until the larger production of exposition cards began in 1893 for the Chicago Columbian Expo. While many saw the potential in producing other types of souvenir views for tourists few ventured into this field as our nation’s economy soured. The many European made view-cards flooding the receptive American market convinced some printers to take the risk. By 1895 a good many souvenir cards were being printed here depicting large cities and famous tourist attractions both of historic and natural interest. As publishing in these years was risky business the subjects chosen for cards relied on those areas that had already been attracting large numbers of tourists for years.

Postcard back

Although these souvenir cards sold well it was not the booming sales item it could have been. This was partially the fault of Postal regulations. The standard mailing rate was one cent for both government and privately printed cards but there was a penny surcharge on private cards alone if a message was written on them. This created much confusion and outrage as the rate for a more private letter was also two cents, and in those days a penny was no small change. The government was continuously lobbied to make reforms but no changes would come until the depression years ended in 1898 and the pressure from all the new publishers waiting to enter the market tipped the balance. When new regulations took effect many publishers found themselves with a stock of cards manufactured under looser size standards that were now too large to be mailed. Many souvenir cards were subsequently trimmed down to regulation size.

Use the link below for a more compleate history of this period.


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