Gaiety Girls was a term used in England referring to the popular portraits of actresses that were continually published on postcards.
A gallery card is a type of postcard published by an artist or art gallery to announce an upcoming exposition. They are mailed out to the press and potential clients with the remaining cards usually given out free for publicity. These cards often take on a traditional postcard form but they can be found in many sizes and produced as novelties. Gallery cards are not usually printed in quantity since they are made to publicize a one time limited event.
In 1840 Thomas Spencer and John Wilson patented a process that could electroplate metal with the use of a Voltaic battery called electro-etching or electro-tint. A direct electric current is run through two inert containers (galvanic cells), each containing a copper plate suspended in a copper sulfate solution. The solution acts as an electrolyte that deposits positively charged copper ions on the negatively charged plate (cathode) while etching the positive plate (anode). This form of etching is actually oxidation, which creates more copper sulfate by removing copper ions from the plate, thus keeping the electrolyte solution in a constant balance. This tends to make it seem as if the process is actually transferring particles of copper directly between the two plates but this is only an illusion. The resurfacing of plates with harder metals through galvanism would grow to play an important role in the printing trades for it allowed for longer press runs.
Galvanography is a reproductive method where a printing plate can be exactly duplicated in copper by electroplating a cast of the original. Though this method can be used to duplicate any surface in relief, galvanography is most often used to reproduce engraved copper plates.
Gang Print (Gang Run)
A gang run is the printing of more than one print job on a single press at the same time. As presses grew larger so did their ability to print many small objects simultaneously on large paper sheets or webs that would later be cut apart. The plates however were usually multiples of the same image to save time. Gang printing combined the different forms from different images and from different clients on one press bed where the printing requirements such as the size of the run and the paper to be used were the same. Dexter Press is credited as the first to use this method.
GAR is short for the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans association open to all who fought with the Union army during the American Civil War. Gatherings of members would take place on May 30th (Decoration Day), when they would decorate the graves of fallen comrades. This organization also took part in the dedication of Civil War memorials, parades, and battlefield reenactments. The last gathering took place in 1949, and the last member died in 1956. Many patriotic postcards were created around this group’s activities.
Gaslight Paper (Contact Paper)
A gaslight paper is an informal term for a photo paper covered with a silver chloride gelatin emulsion that could be exposed with light from a gas lamp, and then fixed in a dimly lit room. In the 19th century most papers could only be exposed with sunlight because of their poor light sensitivity, and the ability to expose a paper to gaslight for only 20 to 40 seconds denoted speed. Today the term gaslight is used to indicate a paper’s slowness for they still needed to be contact printed and could not be used with an enlarger. By 1903 there were 34 brands of this paper including Argo, Azo, Cyko, Kruxo, and Velox. These were all developing out papers except for Azo, a printing out paper.
Gebr. is an abreviation for Gebruder meaning Brothers, often found on German postcards as part of a publishers or printers name.
A gelatin is a colorless, transparent, brittle protein extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals. Through a long curing process utilizing acids and alkalis, the molecular structure of collagen is broken down into a form with weaker molecular bonds creating gelatin. The nature of gelatin is to be absorbent; it swells in cold water and dissolves in hot. This characteristic has made it useful for photo reproductive processes where it has been used in most photosensitive emulsions.
Gelatin tissue, patented by Joseph Wilson Swan in 1864, is a sheet of gelatin that has been photosensitized with potassium dichromate. After being exposed to light through a transparency the tissue can be adhered to a printing substrate using alcohol. When its paper backing is removed only a thin gelatin membrane (tissue) is left behind. The unexposed gelatin can now be washed out with water leaving behind a hard gelatin relief that acts as a resist to the following etch in proportion to its exposure to light. Since exposures could only be made with sunlight during the early years of printing, this new tissue became indispensable for transferring images onto difficult surfaces such as heavy litho-stones and large rotary cylinders as it it could be exposed independently of the substrate. A version of this tissue that could be dried and stored was made commercially available two years after its invention. The Autochrome Printing & Publishing Co. purchased the rights to this invention in 1886. Gelatin tissue is so closely based on Potevin’s earlier carbon tissue it is often referred to by the same name.
General Postal Union
See Universal Postal Union
A generic postcard is one that depicts scenery with no discernible features that could identify a specific location. Some cards without identifiable subjects were purchased for the basic attractiveness of the scene and used for general greetings. Other cards depicting similar scenes of beaches, country ponds, or wood lined roads were often printed with the names of different locations on them. The words Greetings From would typically be pre-printed on the card allowing the buyer to fill in the blank or it could be used as a stock card by the retailer. This not only allowed for more opportunities to sell the card, it provided postcards to small communities that might not otherwise had any postcards at all. Even when a postcard does not literally depict a town, it may have been used by the people of that town as if it did, and in an obtuse way it becomes historically attached to that place. Generics were also often used to depict military bases and fortifications. In this way images sought out by the public during wartime could be supplied without exposing any sensitive information.
Gesetzlich Geschutzt is a term sometimes found on postcards and other objects of German manufacture. It is often mistaken for a publishers name but it actually means Legally Protected or Patented.
A ghost halftone is a lightly printed halftone image that has continuous areas of translucent colors printed over it.
Giants are oversized postcards printed as souvenirs exclusively for European expositions. They made their first appearance in 1908.
Gibson Girl refers to an illustrated female character drawn in line by the artist Charles Dana Gibson, first appearing in 1887 on the pages of Life Magazine. She proved so popular that many major magazines clamored for these illustrations and they wound up being printed on all sorts of objects, making Gibson the highest paid illustrator of his day. The first postcard picturing a Gibson Girl appeared in 1903, and a large set of these would be issued by the Detroit Publishing Company. The Gibson Girl represented a dramatic shift from other depictions of women at this time. Although Gibson himself did not appear to be a proponent of women’s rights, the satiric edge of his work created the image of the New American Woman who was self-confident, sexualized, and her own person. These pictures, which seem tame today were very subversive when first drawn, for the roles woman played had been traditionally limited to those chosen for them, and here the Gibson Girl was presented as an equal to men without limits on her behavior. While her physical attractiveness gave her pinup status among the many men she appealed to, the Gibson Girl may have had a larger appeal among young woman who were not only inspired by her looks but by her independence. Despite being viewed as an icon, the values she expressed were not found desirable in real women of this period. Even though the Gibson Girl began to fade from the public eye around 1910 along with bourgeois values, many of her characteristics were appropriated by progressive women.
This unusual technique patented by Firmin Gillot in 1850 is a hybrid of lithography, intaglio and relief printing. It was based on the metalcut designs and fancy letters traditionally produced by metal cutters for printing. After a lithographic print is pulled from a stone it is pressed against a metal plate so that its wet ink will be transferred to it. A greasy ink drawing on transfer paper could also be used in place of this print. The plate is then dusted with rosin crystals, which will only stick to the tacky litho ink. After the plate is heated to melt the rosin onto its surface the ink is cleaned off. The remaining dots of rosin act as a resist to the acid bath it is then placed into. As the acid eats away at the metal the original surface will only remain under each of the rosin dots where the transferred image had lain. After a sufficient dead level has been created and the rosin removed the plate can be rolled with ink and printed as a relief. The resulting print will look similar to the original lithograph. The larger purpose for this transfer is so that the metal plate could be mounted on a wooden block and printed alongside type as letterpress. While postcards were not created as gillotypes, the process soon evolved into line block etching, which would become instrumental to postcard production.
A giveaway card is a postcard that is free for the taking. Most were published for hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other roadside businesses, with a picture of the establishment on it, though sometimes local scenery was also depicted. Some of these establishments even offered free postage. These cards were produced in great numbers and provided extensive advertising for the issuing business. Many of these cards now fall under the genre of Roadside America.
A glamour card is an informal term for a postcard that depicts a beautiful woman. These cards could be artist drawn or real photos but the focus of attention was on the woman as a glamourous object and not as personality. They were portraits of a type rather than an individual, and rarely contained any pictorial narrative unless presented in an environment populated by high society. Most glamour cards were published in Europe.
Glanzbilder is a German term for a decorative element printed on paper that could be pasted onto household items, furniture, walls, or into scrap books. The earliest examples from the late 18th century were were usually made as etchings or engravings printed on sheets that had to be cut out with scissors. Some of these designs were produced in large sets. Once they began being printed in chromolithography and die cut in the late 1860’s they became a worldwide craze especially among children. Soon afterwards they began being added to greeting cards and valentines. These paper pieces are also referred to as oblaten and scraps.
Louis Glaser developed an elaborate form of multiple tint lithography in Leipzig during the 1880’s from which an image would be printed from five stones, each inked with a different value of a single hue, or at least a similar harmonized color. The Glaser process was later refined by Charles Frey in Frankfurt and this was sometimes referred to as the Glaser-Frey process. While this technique seemed a natural transition from tinting to full color chromolithography they both remained in use simultaneously. This compromise produced images that could be more appealing to the public than those printed in black & white without going through all the expense of creating a chromolithograph from many more stones. This technique proved very popular and was widely used to create miniature souvenir books and a number of postcard publishers also took up this process in the 1890’s but these types of cards are rarely seen after World War One.
Glosso is a trade name used by Raphael Tuck & Sons for a type of postcard coated with a thick gelatin to create a glossy surface. Many of these cards have yellowed and cracked over time.
G.m.b.H. is an abbreviation for Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung. This was a early form of a limited liability corporation that originated in Germany in 1892 and was later adopted by other central European nations. These innovative companies required large amounts of founding capital and had many legal restrictions amidst fears that their corporate structure was open to misuse. Many postcard publishers operated as this type of company with the letters G.m.b.H. following the publisher’s name.
A golden age is period within any field of human activity where it flourishes and outstanding accomplishments are achieved. The origin of the term stems from the mythology of Greek and Roman poets in their references to an early age of man, where mankind was pure, happy, and immortal.
The Golden Age of Post Cards
The time period at the turn of the 20th century when postcards were printed in their greatest numbers, variety, and quality is referred to as The Golden Age of Postcards. There is difficulty in assigning specific years to this golden age as postcards followed different histories in different countries, and certain types of cards had varying influences that affected their production and popularity. There is however a set of core years when all the positive factors overlap as in the United States. Here the Golden Age is best defined between the years 1905 when production dramatically rose, to 1911 just before prices collapsed.
A Goldtone is a type of photograph whose final image rests atop a glass plate with a painted back, (see Orotone). This is not to be confused with the gold toning of photo paper.
Goupilgravure was an intaglio process similar to photogalvanography that was exclusively developed by Henri Rousselon for the French firm Goupil & Cie in 1872. He found a way to alter a dichromate gelatin emulsion so that it will crystallize under exposure to light When painted onto a plate and then contact printed with a negative the unexposed areas remain smooth and flat, while the crystals grow coarser the longer they were exposed to light. Afterwards the plate is electrotyped in copper to harden the delicate surface. The plate would print a full range of tonal values with the coarsest areas holding the most ink and thus printing darkest. While the results seemed incredible at the time, the process had difficulty in capturing details within the light tones and much time consuming hand work was needed to correct this flaw. While most of these images were printed in black & white, color inks up to twenty in number were sometimes painted directly onto the printing plate to resemble watercolor. Goupilgravure was used extensively for art reproductions.
Gramophone Post Card
See Talking Postcard
Gravure, from the French, to engrave is an intaglio printing method in which an image is transferred to a metal plate by photochemical means. Gravure creates images of a continuous tone similar to that of a photograph through a high density of pigment. The traditional method of gravure printing is called photogravure (hand gavure). It was later adapted to the rotary press as rotogravure (machine gravure) when the invention of gelatin tissue allowed photographs to be transfered onto a cylinder.
The Great War
The Great War is a term that was once used to refer to the combined years of conflict against the French Empire of Napoleon between 1803 and 1915. This definition was discarded as the name began to be applied to the European conflict that was fought in the years between 1914 and 1918. It was also eventually referred to as The War to End All Wars. Both terms fell out of use when another major conflict broke out in Europe in 1939. It became known as the Second World War and the Great War was termed World War One. Today the term World War One is falling out of favor by those historians who see the years 1914-1945 as one single period.
The Great White Fleet
The Great White Fleet refers to the 16 newly built battleships of the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet that left Hampton Roads on December 16th, 1907 for a 43,000 mile voyage around the world by order of President Theodore Roosevelt. They were to be a demonstration of American might in an age of conflicting territorial ambitions. They returned to Virginia in February of 1909. The ships were painted white with golden scrollwork, and a red white & blue banner across their bows. They became the subject of many postcards of the period that were published not only in the United States but in the numerous countries they visited. These cards depicted both the ships of the fleet and its sailors on shore leave and on parade. Many other cards were issued as commemoratives that included highly decorative graphics.
In the 19th century glass sheets were maid by pouring molten glass onto metal tables where it was then rolled flat (rolled glass). Even when it began to be manufactured on an assembly line, the rolled glass would wind up with an uneven surface. This was often satisfactory for window panes, but the glass sheets that were used as printing plates with the collotype or heliotype processes needed to be totally flat. These sheets that were finely ground down until completely level were referred to in the printing trades as greyed glass.
Gruss Aus (Gruss Von)
Gruss aus literally means Greetings from in German. The term is also used to refer to view-cards with the words Gruss aus printed on them combined with a location’s name. They were largely produced as chromolithographs between 1894 and 1900 in Germany, Bavaria, Saxony, Austria, and Switzerland, though scenes can be found from a number of non-Germanic countries as well. While the term Gruss aus was commonly found on cards until about 1910, only those postcards combined vignetted images with decorative graphics are considered to be true Gruss aus cards. It is their graphic style rather than wording that constitutes a discernible genre.
Gum Arabic (Gum Acacia)
Gum Arabic is a natural gum produced by the acacia tree of the sub-Sahara to heal its bark if damaged. This gum is harvested for use in candy, cosmetics, polish, syrups, glue. and is also employed for use in lithography, photography, and witchcraft among other things.
Gum Printing (Gum Process)
Gum printing is a primitive method of creating a photograph by applying an emulsion of gum Arabic, photosensitized with potassium dichromate onto paper, then exposing it to a negative and developing it out. The Scott, Mungo Ponton developed this process in 1839. Gum printing would later be elaborated on to create the carbon print process.