As the printing industry downsized during the 1970’s to save on paper costs, postcards headed in the opposite direction. Many were enlarged from the standard 3 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches to 4 by 6 inches, which is the largest size the Postal Service allows to go through the mail at a postcard rate. Though mostly printed as bleeds, black borders became fashionable in the early 80’s. Continentals were a forerunner of the Supersize trend in marketing. Venders were able to charge more while customers got more card for their money. Today continentals are in strong competition with standard sized cards. More recently even larger sized cards are being produced, but they stretch the definition of postcard as they can only be mailed at letter rate.
While this larger size format was new to the United States, it had been used frequently back on the continent of Europe since the late 1920’s, with some published this size as far back as the 1890’s. These early examples issued prior to the First World War are usually just referred to as oversized. Old continental sized cards from Germany and the Soviet Union are the most common but many can be found from Italy, Poland, and other countries as well. These cards are not to be confused with modern reproductions of older cards, which are abundant.
Use the link below for a more compleate history of this period.