A cabinet card consists of a 4 by 5 1/2 inch photograph, usually on thin albumen or carbon paper, pasted to a rigid 4 1/4 by 6 1/2 inch color board to prevent curling. The photo studio’s name is printed on the front or back of the card, very often with decorative gold gilding. These cards were almost exclusively used for portraiture and they sparked the photo retouching profession. Though often put out in display cabinets, they were made in a specific size to fit into specially made albums for collectors. Other photographs of different sizes that were pasted onto cards went by different names such as Boudoir, Imperial, Promenade, Trilby, and Victoria, but the Cabinet card was the most popular. Though they were never meant to be sent through the mail, cabinet cards were in many ways a precursor to real photo postcards because they helped to ingrain the habit of collecting photo images into the public consciousness. The introduction of heavy weight photo paper needed to make real photo postcards rendered mounted cards relatively expensive and unnecessary, which helped usher in their demise. Introduced in 1863, cabinet cards were popular until the turn of the century, though they were manufactured until 1924.
A cachet is a rubber hand stamp placed on a letter or postcard by an institution other than a Government Post Office. They were usually designed and used to commemorate a special event. Sometimes an official government hand stamped cancel that contains an unusual design is also referred to as a cachet.
Calendering refers to the pressing of paper between two metal rollers in its final stage of manufacture. As pulp poured on a screen dries, the wire pattern of the screen will impart itself onto the bottom side of the paper while the top will develop a rough and irregular surface. Paper in its natural form right off the screen is often used by artists, but they provide a poor substrate for commercial printers that usually require a smoother surface to pick up printed detail. A natural paper can be flattened by passing it between heavy polished rollers, a process called cold press. If smoother paper is desired, the rollers can be heated, a process referred to as hot press. Various textures can also be embossed into the paper at this stage by creating a textured stereotype for one of the rollers. This is how textured paper was manufactured for linen postcards. The calendering process is also used with textiles and plastic sheets.
A cancel is the placement of a mark over postage to designate that it has been accepted into use by a postal system and to prevent it from being used for postal services again. While it usually consists of ink applied through a rubber hand stamp or modern canceling machine. Place, date, and time of cancel are usually noted within the cancel but this is not always the case. Sometimes the information on hand stamps is not complete, and clerks may simply disfigure postage with a pen to prevent reuse. There are various types of cancels and the more unique ones are collected. One type of collectible cancel has different designs or slogans incorporated within them. Another category of cancels are from unusual postal facilities such as those aboard ships, railroads, trolleys, pneumatic offices, and from expositions. Sometimes cards with rural free delivery (R.D.F.) cancels fall into this category. Postmarks issued from defunct post offices or former U.S. Territories are also collected. Certain cancels can add great value to a postcard’s worth.
Carbo Colour is a trade name for a type of tinted halftone postcard printed by Valentine’s during the 1930’s. They are characterized by an open halftone key over light red, yellow, and pale blue dots and solid tones. There is so little intermingling of hues that these cards sometimes appear to be hand colored.
In 1855 Alphonse Louis Potevin elaborated on the gum printing process and found a new way of reproducing photographic images. These carbon prints as they became known were made by the triple transfer of a photographic image onto gelatin emulsions. Three pieces of paper are coated with a photosensitive gelatin emulsion containing carbon powder. The first sheet is exposed to a negative and developed out with water. It is then positioned emulsion to emulsion with a second sheet of hardened gelatin, and pressed together into one piece. The paper from the first sheet is then removed. This thin gelatin film is called carbon tissue. The areas on it exposed to light have hardened while the remaining gelatin has washed away. Because the fully exposed areas are now attached to the new paper side, the remaining mid-tones and highlights tend to wash off producing images with poor tonal range. Since this image was transferred from one tissue to another it is now in reverse, and must be transferred by the same process to the third emulsion to regain the correct orientation. This method would be improved upon by many others such as John Pouncy in 1858, but the basic principals remained the same.
Joseph Wilson Swan took this technique a step further by adjusting the transfer process so that the gelatin emulsion photosensitized with potassium dichromate was only washed after the first transfer and from the opposite side thus preserving more of the original detail. An alum bath would then be used to harden the remaining gelatin. This new type of emulsion was known as gelatin tissue, which Swan patented in 1864. The photographic prints created through these improvements display a wide and rich tonal range. Substituting various pigments for the original carbon could also change the color of the final print. Because no silver is used these photographs are known for their permanence and were made in large numbers until 1910.
Carbon tissue is a thin gelatin emulsion photosensitized with potassium dichromate and infused with a fine carbon powder, patented by Alphonse Louis Poiteven in 1855 and improved upon by John Pouncy in 1858. Further experimentation by J.W. Swan in 1864 led to its evolution into gelatin tissue.
A card photo refers to any type of photograph, though usually albumen, pasted onto paperboard. Early photographs were made on thin sheets of paper that suffered from extreme curling due to the emulsion on one sided drying at a different rate than its plain paper back. They were often pasted onto stiff paperboard to prevent this curling. Card photos almost always had borders and came in a range of set sizes so those who collected them could more easily place these cards in albums. Each size had its own name with the most popular varieties being the cartes de visite, the cabinet card, and the stereo-view. As postcards became popular, photo paper began to be manufactured on a heavier stock that did not curl as much so they could be used as postcards. Since these real photo postcards were less expensive to produce they quickly replaced most card photos by 1910.
Card Stock (Pressboard)
Card stock is a stiff heavyweight commercial paper used when durability is needed. It can be manufactured in a thick single sheet but it usually consists of many thinner sheets of paper pressed or pasted together. Each layer is referred to as a ply. Pressboard is used in the production of postcards and trade cards among other items, though there is no set standard of thickness. Some postcards are also just printed on a single sheet of paper as with newspaper cards. This is seen more often during wartime when paper may be scarce. When postcards are manufactured without adequate paste or stored in damp conditions, the individual plies can separate from one another. Some thin cards with blank backs are not unprinted upon but have lost their original backs.
Cartephilia is an archaic term used in the early 20th century to describe the act of postcard collecting. It was readapted years later to describe those who collect reward or trading cards (Cartephiles).
A cartel is a group of corporations who have made agreements with one another to similarly address mutual business concerns such as price fixing, supply limits, and sales quotas, all to stifle competition. Cartel agreements often create de facto monopolies. Since outlawed in the United States by antitrust laws, cartels can be mostly found in Europe where they now operate on international levels. The German cartel IG Farben once controlled most of the world’s ink supply that went into the printing of postcards..
A cartouche is framing element surrounding a body of text. It originally referred to elongated oval shapes in Egyptian hieroglyphs that contained a royal name. The term was later applied to the highly decorative scroll work placed on printed matter, especially maps that enclosed a title and other relevant information. These ornamentations were often created and designed to fill up otherwise empty compositional space. The more simple shapes that contain calligraphy on Japanese prints are also referred to as a cartouche.
Cartes de Visite (Visiting Card)
A cartes de visite is a photograph, usually albumen, pasted to a rigid 2 1/2 by 4 inch card with the photo studio’s name printed on the front or back. Introduced by the Frenchman Andre Adolphe Eugene Disdore in the 1850’s, they remained popular until the 1880’s when collecting habits switched to the larger cabinet card. Cartes de visite served many purposes from personal calling cards to album collectibles that depicted family members or famous personalities. They are often referred to as Album Cards.
Celesque is the trade name for a type of early tricolor postcard printed in Great Britain by the Photochrom Company. Their palette consists of red, yellow, and blue halftones.
The oblong shape of an elliptical halftone dot (rhomboid) tends to grow longer as it increases in size until it blends into the dot next to it. Since these oblong dots (chain dots) merge on the same axis rotation, they grow into continuous chain-like lines. This chaining line pattern tends to render better mid-tone values and creates smoother tonal transitions. Before the rosette pattern came into use, chaining lines were often employed on postcards to help eliminate interference patterns.
A chalk plate is a variation of the line block technique. Here a metal plate, usually of steel, is first covered with a thin layer of chalk with the consistency of wet plaster. Once dry it could be drawn upon with a stylus in the same manner as drawing through the ground on etching plate. The stylus removes the chalk in thin lines exposing the steel underneath without damaging its surface. After the drawing was complete the surface of the plate could be cast in metal (stereotyped), and mounted onto a wood block or a rotary cylinder. When rolled with ink, only the highest level where the lines had been placed would receive it, thus reproducing the drawing. While this simple form of producing illustrations came into stiff competition with halftone reproduction, it required less equipment to make, and proved a lot cheaper for small printers to deal with. The results are fairly indistinguishable from black & white and color work in line block.
A charity seal is a stamp (cinderella stamp) that is affixed to an envelope or a postcard without contributing to the required postage. They are sold typically around Christmas to raise funds for charity. The first such stamp was conceived in 1904 by the Danish postmaster Einer Holboll, in order to raise money to fight tuberculosis. He formed the Christmas Seal Committee to supervise these efforts, and by 1911 they had raised enough money to build their first sanatorium. This concept was brought to the United States in 1907 by Emily Bissell. Seals were sold here in sheets and booklets after the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of these stamps held the double bared Cross of Lorraine, which was suggested by the Frenchman, Dr. Sersiron as a symbol of the crusade against illness. This was replaced with the star and crescent where charity seals were adopted by Muslim nations. While the use of a seal inferred support for a charitable cause, they were also sometimes used as expressions of patriotism, especially in times of war. Seals continue to be used in many countries and for many different causes.
A chase is an iron or steel frame designed to hold letterpress type or block images. When a chase is locked together with its contents for printing on a press bed, together they create a form.
A checklist is a list of titles along with the identification numbers of all known postcards issued by a single publisher. Since businesses often kept bad records and those that exist were often destroyed in war or were simply discarded after the company went out of business, a number of collectors have taken it upon themselves to compile new checklists. These appear in books, postcard club bulletins, and on websites. Only a small number of checklists exist for postcards and most of these are incomplete.
Chemical paper is made by cooking wood chips in a bisulfate of lime or a caustic soda at high temperatures. This reduces wood into pure cellulose that can be further processed into different types of paper. It is often bleached to rid itself of its natural grey, and it can also be combined with other types of fibers. Its high acidic chemical residue eventually causes this paper to yellow and become brittle with age. Most ephemera like postcards tend to be made from this type of pulp.
The Italian term chiaroscuro describes the compositional use of light and darks to create form and space within a picture without the use of color. At the time of the Renaissance, many paintings began by first laying down the image in black & white to create the tonal structure. This would then be painted over with translucent color in the form of glazes. Sometimes chiaroscuro was also used to describe the method of drawing on tinted paper where both highlights and shadows could be drawn in. These same tinting effects were later put into use in various forms printing, and were sometimes incorporated into their names.
China Clay (Kaolin)
China clay is the white mineral kaolinite (hydrous aluminum silicate), formed by the decomposition of aluminum silicates, particularly feldspar. The Chinese used Kaolin since the 7th century in the manufacture of porcelain. Today it is most widely used in the coating of papers to create a bright glossy surface that will not absorb printing ink. Printing on uncoated papers usually looks dull.
Chine Collé (Chine Appliqué)
Chine Collé is the process by which two different sheets of paper are used to produce one print. It begins with a thin sheet of India paper that holds a dried coating of water soluble paste on its back. It is cut to the exact size of the printing plate and is placed over the inked plate carefully aligned to its edges. Before it is printed a much thicker and larger sheet of moistened paper is laid over it. When pressure is applied during printing, the thick wet paper moistens the dry paste on the back of the thin paper underneath, and a bond formed between the two unites them into one single sheet. The pasting of these papers through a press became known as chine collé in France where the India paper that was most often used was called China paper. Though sometimes employed to create a finer impression on heavy stock, these papers were most often used to create a toned or color backdrop to the image that normal printing papers did not offer. Chine collé was also used in a collage fashion to create decorative elements within an image.
Chinoiserie is a decorative style introduced to Europe in the late 1600’s, influenced by the large scale arrival of imported goods and pictures from China. While Chinoiserie had its greatest impact among those countries with the most Chinese trade, England, Holland, and Portugal, the style eventually spread to all parts of Europe. It was primarily applied to architecture in the creation of fanciful structures of unusual proportions such as the pagodas that filled the gardens of many large estates. Lacquer like materials were often employed in their creation. The style peaked in the mid-18th century when Rococo dominated the arts. As America entered the China trade, similar influences began to appear in the United States but to a lesser extent. After 1860 this style would blend into the more influential elements then arriving from Japan.
In 1906, the Belgian firm Gevaert & Cie invented the first chlorobromide paper under the Blue Star label. While it was a develop-out paper, it still produced superior tonalities in a warm brown. Chlorobromide papers are now the most widely used.
Chloride paper is a blue light sensitive photo paper coated with an emulsion of silver chloride in gelatin. When first introduced this paper was considered so fast that it was marketed as capable of being exposed under gaslight (gaslight paper), as opposed to exclusively by sunlight. This paper however proved too slow for enlarging and was only used for contact printing. Chloride paper is printed-out and produces a very fine tonal range with excellent detail, but it tends to yield a yellow or red cast, so it is often toned. It was the first paper used to make real photo postcards.
A Chris-A-Tone card is the trade name for an early type of natural color Photochrome postcard published by Christian’s Photo Service in Portland, Oregon.
Chrome, from the Greek khrõma meaning color, eventually became shorthand for a photochrome, the product of photochromy, which is the process of producing a printed image in natural color directly derived from photography. The term has been more widely used as a common nickname for the type of glossy photographic color postcard produced through process printing since the 1940’s. Chrome is also sometimes used as a suffix to brand names of printed products or film to designate the use of color.
Anything chromatic is perceived as having a hue, it is neither white, gray or black.
A chromiste was a highly trained specialist who worked at a printshop in the production of chromolithographs. His job was to create a full sized study known as a key drawing, which was needed to outline (key line) where each of the chosen colors would go. His final positioning of each color was then traced off of the key by a retoucher, and onto a glassine or gelatin sheet for transferring further onto its own stone. He also determined the order in which inks were to be printed, which controlled the way the final colors would appear. Once printed, the chromiste would examine the proof, and then make any needed corrections to each stone. A chromiste is sometimes referred to as an art director.
Chromo is used as a prefix to many words that describe a method of color printing. The term chromo began being used as a common abbreviation for a chromolithograph in the 1840’s. The printer Louis Prang would appropriate the term chromo during the 1860’s as an informal trademark for his work. He claimed that he was the originator of this term, but this was nothing more than a marketing ploy. The cheapness of chromos made them a democratic art form that many people could enjoy. Many elitists however saw this as a cheapening of art, and by the turn of the 20th century the term chromo was being commonly used to describe any poor quality reproductions or anything cheap and vulgar. Some at this time referred to the United States derogatorily as the chromo nation, implying an inferior culture. The term was so common that all forms of chromolithography began to be seen under a bad light, which contributed to its demise.
Chromographie is a term, largely used in France, for a halftone color image produced with a tricolor palette of red, yellow, and blue. Chromographies can be printed in either lithography or line block.
Lithographers had begun placing color in their prints soon after the technique was invented in 1798, but it was Godefrey Engleman who named and patented chromolithography in 1837. His invention of the registration frame solved a major production problem, which allowed him to be the first to put this method into commercial use. The first chromolithograph to be printed in the United States was made in Boston only three years later. The term Chromolithograph specifically refers to a lithographic print produced in three or more colors but we generally only apply it now to those commercial lithographs printed by technicians from many more stones during the 1880’s up through the First World War. Though the optical mixing properties of primary colors was known since the 17th century and sometimes employed, no scientific color separation techniques were available in lithography’s early years. Multiple hand drawn substrates were used instead to produce each individual local color and corresponding tone. This meant that a complicated color image might require at least ten different stones to produce, and some images incorporated as many as forty-five. This build up of ink often causes chromolithographs to suffer from looking dull because light cannot easily pass through all the layers and reflect back off the paper’s white surface. Despite all these obstacles lithography proved to be the medium best suited for color printing in the 19th century, and a whole range of color paper products flooded the market of which much was collected. In 1889 the world’s first color postcard was printed in Austria. For the remainder of the Century chromolithography was the primary method of producing color cards.
The rivalry between letterpress and color lithography led to the line block being adapted to multiple plate color printing in the 1860’s. Chromotypographs were different from chromolithographs in ways apart from the obvious technology. There was no attempt to employ the same wide range of colors as they shied away from art reproduction and realistic rendering. The limited pallet of line blocks became part of their economy, which also made them easy to use. Simple illustration, comics, and advertising in more stylized graphic design became the mainstay of this technique. Chromotypographs employed a wide variety of textures but rarely plain dots. Some of these textures were created by drawing or spatter, while other marks were etched into the broad lines of the plate to print in white. Aquatint was often used in the production line block plates to create random texture. This allowed for more interesting patterns of optical blending when multiple color plates were combined. As the general trend at the turn of the 20th century turned toward printing with less color, the more elaborate forms of chromotypography saw little use. Line blocks would still be used to create color postcards in color, but in more expedient ways such as relying more heavily on manufactured tints.
The early printing method of chromoxylography typically employed ten to twenty wood engraved blocks, each holding a unique color to produce a single color image. The results were often outstanding and it became a major competitor to chromolithography. In the fight for color printing supremacy, It was chromolithography that became the industry standard, except in England where chromoxylography remained popular. This might be due to the techniques ability to reproduce the tinted look of watercolors; a strong tradition in England. While chromolithography dominated the printing trades, the art of chromoxylography did not just disappear; by the late 1900’s it began to be used in more simple ways to provide cheap illustrations for magazines, comics, and children’s books. Typically only three blocks would be cut and inked in red, yellow, and blue, which created a very bold and distinct look. Commercial printers would abandon the use of wood engraving in the 1890’s due to cost, but by then this style was so popular that many would keep the look of this tradition through color line block printing (chromotypography).
Cigarette cards are a type of free reward card containing advertising and other imagery that accompanied the purchase of cigarettes. Allon & Ginter were the first to print images on the cardboard stiffeners in cigarette packs in 1886, and the trend continued into the 1930’s. Cigarette cards like the trade cards that inspired them, became collectable items before postcards, and reached their peak in popularity between the two World Wars. Production stopped during WWII due to supply shortages, and they were never produced in large numbers again. They were the most popular form of reward cards.
A cinderella refers to any stamp placed on an envelope or postcard that does not contribute to official postage. They are often issued for the purpose of raising money for charity, as commemorative mementos, for propaganda purposes, and even as art. They are also sometimes used within private mail networks as real postage would be. Non-postage stamps officially issued by government agencies are placed in a separate category.
A Cirkut camera is one of many different types of rotating panoramic cameras. Panoramic cameras first made their appearance in 1857 but the most popular was the Cirkut camera that began to be manufactured by the Century Camera Company of Rochester, N.Y. in 1907. It was specifically designed to rotate so it could take shots of large groups of people without having to move the camera back from the subject. They came in different sizes using filmstrips between two and twenty feet long. The Eastman Kodak Company eventually bought this firm and continued to manufacture Cirkut cameras. Many multi-paneled postcards were made from photographs taken by these cameras. Modern variations of this camera are still used today.
A Clucking Clerk is a type of postcard vending machine in which the buyer makes a card selection, inserts money, and then the card is dispensed by a chicken. It was hoped that the novelty of the device would attract more customers. This machine made its first appearance in Hot Springs, Arkansas with chickens trained by animal psychologist Keller Breland. Despite all the fame these birds received from magazine articles and television shows, they were never paid more than chicken feed.
In theory, the combination of the three primary subtractive CYM colors, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow should be able to create create the illusion of a natural color image when printed, but they only combine to form black as pure light. The chemical composition of color pigments found in ink react differently than light energy; they cannot absorb all wavelengths and create a dark muddy brown instead. The inability of these inks to mix into an optical black necessitates the addition of black ink as a fourth color when printing. Black is represented by K for Key so not to confuse it with blue. Black is traditionally used to ink the key plate when making tinted prints. The CYMK mix is also referred to as process colors.
A coated paper is one that has a coating applied to its surface to give the sheet a brighter, glossier appearance, and improve printability by preventing ink absorption. Since only the top side of a sheet is typically coated, the natural breathability of each side’s fibers are altered, which often caused curling as they expand and contract at different rates. This type of paper was originally coated by hand, but the process had become completely mechanized by the mid-19th century. Paper coatings are made from substances like China Clay or calcium carbonate, and can account for 50% of a paper’s weight.
A cockle finish is sometimes applied to machine made papers to make it resemble the uneven puckered look of a handmade paper. This effect is created by air drying the paper under little or no tension. While cockle finishes were most often used when manufacturing bond writing paper, it was occasionally used in the production of postcards. This finish can cause inks to blur making the printing technique employed sometimes difficult to discern. A postcard on more typical paper that is left to air dry after being wet will assume a similar finish but this effect is considered damage.
A collectable is a manufactured item that possesses the attractive characteristics necessary to cause someone to save it without any regard to its practical use. Collectibles can be ephemera, those paper objects such as tickets or match covers that were made to be discarded after use, or they can also be objects that never served a practical purpose but were specifically made for the collector such as baseball cards. Many items as postcards fall between categories as they have always been purchased to send messages as well as purely collected. The term collectable entered general use in the 1930’s to distinguish vintage objects from antiques which imply an age of at least a hundred years. Many postcards are now shifting from collectable to antique by that definition. Natural objects like seashells are not considered collectables even though they are collected.
Collodion is a base used for photo emulsions invented by J.B. Obernetter in Germany in 1867. It is made from nitrocellulose suspended in ether or alcohol, rendering it highly flammable and dangerous to use. It was mixed with silver chloride to produce printing out papers in both matte and glossy surfaces. While it yielded brown to purplish hues, collodion could also be toned into many different colors. This emulsion is appreciated for the sharp detail and subtleties it can capture often causing collodion photos to be mistaken for platinum prints. It lost its popularity around 1900, but was still use until 1920.
Collotype (Glass Printing)
The collotype is a continuous tone printing process first patented in France by Alphonse Louis Poitevin in 1855 under the name Phototypie. The prefix collo is derived from the Greek word kolla meaning glue, which is in reference to the fish glue first used to make emulsions. It began to be used commercially as the Albertotype in 1868 after Josef Albert in Germany perfected the method, but when patented in the United States one year later it was given the name Artotype. The technique begins with a greyed glass plate coated with a photosensitive dichromate colloid gelatin that puckers and cracks as it dries. When exposed to light through a reverse negative, the lit areas harden into an insoluble nonabsorbent finish. It is the areas within the reticulated cracks that harden the most because they are the thinnest part of the emulsion. They in turn will print the darkest in proportion to the tones of the original image. The dichromate emulsion in areas with little or no exposure to light remains soluble and is washed out from the gelatin with cold water. The plate is then printed in a similar manner to a lithograph. A solution of glycerin and water is spread over the plate’s surface, which is absorbed by the remaining gelatin. Areas that are to carry the dark tones absorb little or no moisture while areas for the lighter tones and non-image areas absorb the most. When greasy ink is rolled over the gelatin on the plate, the non-image areas holding the most moisture repel the ink, and the dry hardened image areas attract the ink. Once printed the reticulated pattern creates a continuous toned image of incredible detail for which it is prized. The glass plate however was a major drawback for it is very fragile and usually yields 500 impressions, 2000 at the most. This severely limited its commercial use until 1898 when the production of collotypes was adapted to gelatin coated aluminum plates that could be used on rotary presses. Although it remains the most accurate reproductive printing method available today, The collotype process has largely been abandoned since the 1940’s due to competition from cheaper printing methods, and few examples can be found past the 1990’s.
Collotypie is the Dutch term for a collotype.
Colorants are the ingredients that impart color to another substance. Colorants can be either dyes or pigments.
A color filter is a transparent sheet of dyed glass, plastic, or gelatin used in photography to selectively absorb only certain colors of the visual spectrum while permitting other colors to pass through it. For color separation, filters of the three additive primaries, red, green, blue, are used. A red filter is used to create a cyan negative, a green filter produces magenta, and a blue filter will produce yellow. They were first employed for use with panchromatic film so that a natural color image could be extracted from three black & white negatives. They were later put to use in tricolor printing by creating color separated printing plates from color photographs.
Colorgraph is a trade name used by the Adirondack Resorts Press for their tinted halftone postcards. They were printed with a black line block halftone key over solid tints of red, light red, yellow, and light blue.
Color Photo Engraving
A color photo engraving is a type of intaglio print on which simulated natural color can be created from black & white photographs. This process was made possible by Frederick Ives’ invention of panchromatic emulsions in 1881. The same subject was shot through three different color filters representing the additive primaries onto three different negatives. A halftone would then be created from each negative, (a de facto color separation) and retouched if necessary before being photographically transferred to a series of printing plates. Each plate was individually inked in a corresponding hue for tricolor printing. While this method produced the first natural color images, it was a very complicated and expensive printing method that prevented it from doing well commercially.
A Colorpoeme is a trade name used by the Lumitone Press in the 1930’s for their illustrated postcard series depicting views of New York City by Pierre Trapier. Trapier was a well known artist at this time who created a large body of work depicting the great cities of the United States and Europe. Many of these pictures were reproduced in both postcard and print formats.
The process of dividing an image into individual color color components is called color separation. In printing, the number and selection of colors separated directly correspond to the number of substrates used. After each separation is copied onto its own substrate, they are inked in corresponding colors that when printed in perfect registration will yield a full colored image. The first color separations were based solely on personal interpretations of various color theories, and solely dependent on the retoucher’s skill to divide hues. After photography became available the same black & white image was often transferred to multiple substrates and the retoucher would then remove or add parts to correspond to a particular color but their placement continued being discretionary. The arrival of panchromatic emulsions allowed natural color to be simulated for the first time on a scientific basis even though they were created with black & white photographs shot through color filters. While attempts continued to be made to create natural color images through a more limited palette, success would only come after the invention of high quality film and better inks during the 1930’s. which finally allowed subtractive color theory to be put into real use. Process cameras are able to create large halftone negatives for each needed color. An intermediate color separation would sometimes be made, and then retouched before creating the final halftone. Today optical scanners create color separations with the information registered digitally. Scanned color separations can be quickly manipulated and edited in an infinite number of ways using computer software.
Colourtone is a trade name for a type of tinted halftone postcard produced by Valentine’s during the 1930’s. Colourtones are often distinguished by wide Tartan patterned borders with symbolic elements added and metallic spot printing.
Commercialchrome is a trade name for a type of postcard that was printed through a four-color halftone lithographic process in the United States by the Curt Teich Company.
The Comstock Laws were passed on March 3rd, 1873 at the urging of Anthony Comstock’s New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and the Y.M.C.A., which prohibited the United States Postal Service to be used for the transmission of obscene materials. Obscene of course is a relative term and the law was used to seize and burn more than 120 tons of books from authors such as Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O’Neil, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, Leo Tolstoy, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. At least 18 million postcards were also destroyed and more than 3500 publishers prosecuted. When a play of George Bernard Shaw was banned from the mail, he coined the term Comstockery, to denote censorship based on prudery. This law was used extensively to ban all information regarding birth control until that section was repealed in 1936. The rest of the law remains on the books and it is still enforced.
A contact print is a photographic print made by exposing a photosensitive paper to negative film with both emulsions in direct contact to one another to avoid light scattering. No enlarger is needed as the negative rests directly against the paper under a sheet of glass to keep both flat and the contact even. The detail in the resulting print is the same size as on the negative, which often makes them very fine. In 1902 Eastman Kodak released Velox photo paper that was not only the same size as a postcard, but also the same size as the negative produced by their camera. These products made the production of real photo postcards relatively easy, and most early cards were created through contact printing. To achieve a white tab or border on a contact printed photo, a mask need to be used that cropped part of the image. Contact printing is often used for exposures on photo papers that have poor light sensitivity and it is required by all papers that must be exposed to sunlight. Contact printing was also used in the creation of printing plates, though this process eventually evolved to the point where the two surfaces were sealed together in a vacuum frame and then exposed to artificial ultra-violet light.
When using a traditional crossline screen to create a halftone transparency, it was spaced between film and the image to be copied at a distance that had to be carefully calculated. The contact halftone screen, invented in 1953, avoided the need for measuring as it could be used in direct contact with film emulsion. Contact screens have none of the usual opaque lines; these thin sheets of film are made up instead of small soft edged translucent dots whose density can be varied. This allows for a wider range of light modulation creating greater choices in producing tone. In general they pick up more detail and capture more subtle highlights and middle-tones than their crossline counterparts. Screens with grey dots are designed for creating color separations while magenta screens are used to create create black & white halftone.
A continental card is one that is larger than standard postcard size generally measuring 4 by 6 inches (105 by 145 mm). At a 1914 meeting of the International Postal Congress in Stockholm it was decided that from the 1st of October 1925 postcards of this size could be mailed between Universal Postal Union members. Cards larger than the standard size accepted by the Union had been produced since the 19th century, but from this date onwards they would be officially sanctioned. Germany was the first country to enlarge their government issued postals to this size in 1926, and Adolf Ackerman was the first private publisher to produce postcards of this size in number. This decision did not initially go over well with other publishers and distributors who even organized boycotts of these larger cards. The reluctance of the Americans and British to accept the format used on the European continent may have led to them being called Continentals. Public demand for cards with more writing space would eventually cause other publishers to start producing cards in this format. Other countries such as Italy, Poland, and Switzerland adopted this size but most came out of Germany and the Soviet Union. Continentals were not popular in the United States until the 1970’s.
Continuous tone is a characteristic of value, where any range of tones from black, through grays, to white have no discerning demarcations between each other. The term is usually used to denote the subtly of blended tones to distinguish a photograph from a halftone printing process. All photographs have continuous tone while all images printed through halftone screens only have optical tones. Other printing processes like collotype, gravure, and lithography produce continuous tone images.
A contract card is a postcard manufactured for a small publisher either through a jobber, a larger publisher, or directly with a printer by written contract. Most often contract cards refer to a set of cards printed specifically for the promotion of a business such as a hotel or railroad, and for commercial photographers that have no means to create their own printed cards. Many important publishers were huge suppliers of contract cards, though their names do not always appear on the card..
Copper Window Cards
When the windows of buildings depicted on view-cards are covered in copper or another reflective metal, they are referred to as copper window cards. While this was supposedly meant to simulate light passing through them, the effect is not realistic. The real appeal of these types of cards was in their novelty. This metallic effect was usually created through the bronzing method, which was also used to create other luminescent effects on novelty cards.
Copper plate refers to an intaglio method of printing text from a metal plate (usually copper) where the letters are engraved into it. Copperplate is largely used for items printed in very limited quantities such as invitations, or for special pages inserted into books where a more ornamental text style was needed that could not be set in type.
A copyright is the right granted to an individual or incorporated business by a government, to exclusively publish, reproduce, and distribute any literary or artistic work they create for a specified number of years. Copyrighted material may be legally used by others with permission of the copyright holder, through licensing, or by right of fair use. In the early 20th century, the difficulty and cost in obtaining a copyright made it unattractive, and most early postcards were not copyrighted. The copyright notice found on many postcards usually does not belong to the publisher but to the photographer who supplied the initial photograph that the image was made from. This can often cause confusion for this notice can predate publication by many years. Laws governing copyright can be complicated as they were revised many times and vary country to country. There are international standards, but these are not recognized by every nation. Once a copyright expires it is supposed to fall into the public domain for free use, but exceptions have been granted.
In the United States, a correspondence card is a type of postcard that was privately printed prior to the effective date, July 1, 1898, of the Private Mailing Card Act of May 19, 1898. Writing could only be placed on the front, as the back was entirely reserved for the address and stamp, and it required two cents to mail. These cards did not carry anything more than simple illustrations as they were most often designed exclusively for correspondence and not as souvenirs. The term correspondence card was also used in other countries, often to make reference to their officially issued postals.
A coupon card is a postcard published by a newspaper that could only be acquired by redeeming coupons appearing in that same newspaper. Different sets of coupon cards were usually offered on a weekly basis to increase a paper’s circulation. This promotional gimmick was primarily employed in the years between 1904 and 1910.
A court sized card refers to early privately printed postcards that began being manufactured in Great Britain in 1894. These cards were required by law to range between 2 1/4 by 3 1/4 inches and 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches in size, which was smaller than standard Government issued postal stationary. On November 1, 1899 this size requirement was repealed allowing all postcards to be made in the standard size.
A cover is a paper sheet that is meant to wrap mailed correspondence for protection and privacy. Eventually covers were manufactured in the form we now refer to as an envelope. Early on, postage was calculated by the number of pages being sent, and it was only when covers stopped being counted as a page did they become common. More often this term specifically refers to mailing envelopes that have a picture printed on them. Patriotic themes are the most common type of illustration to be found on covers, which became highly popular during the American Civil War. Illustrated covers were sometimes purchased as a display of patriotism, or saved after use. Illustrated covers continue to be made and are now saved as collectables, often in conjunction with related postmarks and stamps such as first day issues.
Crayon gravure is not a printing technique but a style that reproduces the texture of crayon, which in most cases is synonymous for pastel. These are basically color photogravures that use a very coarse grain when making the photomechanical transfer of the illustration onto a printing plate. This texture further enhances the illusion of a drawing on rough paper as its white dots have a similar appearance to the recessed areas of the paper’s surface that do not pick up pigment when drawing. This process was never widely used in the printing trades, probably due to cost, but it can be found on postcards made well into the 20th century long after most other uses for photogravure had ended.
A crayon print is a matte surfaced black & white photograph that has been hand colored with a color crayon specifically manufactured for that purpose. There is little information on early crayons except they were most likely made from colored chalks. In the 1930’s, Kodak introduced their own set of water soluble crayons in a boxed kit. While promoted to color photographs, they could also be used on real photo postcards.
The stress cracks that that fall short of complete fractures appearing in polymer glazes is known as crazing. Sometimes this term is more generically used to describe any type of cracking such as that found on postcards. Postcards are usually covered with a thin coat of varnish to prevent the ink from smudging as they are handled. Sometimes these varnishes or layers of gelatin were more thickly applied to ad sheen to the postcard image. In time these heavy overlays tend to yellow and become brittle. Since this glazed surface is hard and the paper of a card is flexible many small cracks may appear over a card’s entire surface.
The elimination of part of an image during a phase in its reproduction is known as cropping. Early photographs were all made with large format cameras as the poor light sensitivity of early photo papers required them to be contact printed. When many of these large negatives were later used to make smaller scale postcards, they were contact printed onto photosensitized printing substrates. The problem with this process was the image could not be reduced but had to be cropped down instead. Since the composition on large negatives was often expansive, they could sometimes be used to produce cards in either horizontal or vertical formats. It is not uncommon to find both. When a card was reprinted, the cropping tended to shifted creating small to very large compositional variations. Even when postcard sized negatives were eventually manufactured, they were still susceptible to cropping as masks were often employed to create writing tabs within different sections of the card. Images were also purposely cropped in various ways so that a publisher could use a single negative to produce different looking cards, thus reducing cost.
A cross-over card is a type of postcard whose subject matter allows it to be categorized under a number of different genres. For instance a depiction of a sledding scene could possibly be filed under Children, Sleds, Winter, Winter Sports, or even possibly Artist Signed or real photo cards in addition to its geographic location.
Curteichcolor is a trade name used by the Curt Teich Company to designate their postcards printed as modern photochromes through process printing. Their identification numbers incorporated the letter K.
The term cut is short for a wood engraving.
Cutout Post Cards (Newspaper Cards)
Cutout post cards were a type of postcard published by newspapers and distributed in sheet form as free supplements to their papers. These cards needed to be cut apart for mailing, which often gave them irregular edges. They were printed on paper rather than heavier card stock, which led many of them to be saved more often than mailed. Cutouts were first issued in 1903 during the Hearst-Pulitzer newspaper wars to help increase circulation in a highly competitive market. Many other newspapers eventually copied the idea. These types of cards were rarely seen beyond 1907.
A cyanotype is a type of photographic salt print made in a blue monochrome. Sir John Hirchel invented the process in 1842, in order to make exact copies of his scientific notes. Cyanotype paper is photosensitized by coating it with ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. This solution soaks into the paper’s fibers rather than resting on its surface as with most other emulsions. When exposed to light through contact printing with a negative, the iron compounds break down by oxidation. The exposure is then printed out, which causes a further reaction between the new iron salts and the potassium ferricyanide. Ferroprusate is formed in the areas that were exposed to light yielding a photographic image in a flat Prussian blue. These colors can range from a blue-black to purple if variations in processing are made. Though cyanotypes slowly fade in light, many homemade real photo postcards were still made this way. They generally went out of fashion in the 1920’s. Variants such as kallitypes, palladium, and platinum prints utilize the same basic iron salt chemistry. Architectural blueprints are also made through this same process. Cyanotypes should not be confused with the blue toned bromide photo papers that became popular in Europe during the 1920’s.
Cyko paper is a blue light sensitive, silver chloride photo paper that was introduced by the Columbia Photo Paper Company in 1887. While it seems to have been issued in a postcard format in 1904 their logo appears on private mailing cards that were only in use until 1901. In 1907 this firm became the Ansco Company and produced this paper with a Cyco stamp box label until the company merged with Agfa Products of IG Farben in 1928. Cyko paper had poor light sensitivity and was used for contact printing.
A press that uses a hard metal cylinder to provide pressure to transfer an image from a printing plate onto a sheet of paper is known as a cylinder press. These presses came in many different manifestations of types and sizes to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. The most common model had a flat bed, which the printing substrate was laid upon. The bed with the substrate would then move back and forth under the cylinder to print an image. Most of these presses were steam powered throughout the 19th century. They evolved into the rotary press where the printing substrate migrated from the press bed and onto the cylinder itself. While rotary printing was faster, finding ways to adapt some techniques to a cylinder proved harder than others so the two types of presses served side by side for many years.