A magic lantern is a light projector of a positive image from a glass plate (diapositive). The images first used for lantern slides were either drawn or stenciled, but by the 1850’s they were being replaced by photographic transparencies. By the 1870’s, lantern slides were being commercially produced. Many magic lanterns used a series of filters to project color images years before the autochrome process was used. Lantern slide shows were very popular for decades often filling entire theaters. Even after the advent of motion pictures these shows held their own for a good number of years, but as movies increased in quality slides were not able to compete. Many companies that manufactured lantern slides eventually sold their transparencies to postcard publishers ever eager for more imagery.
Mail-Art is an art form in which the object mailed, and the act of mailing it combine to form its meaning. It has been around in one form or another since the turn of the 20th century as many tried to expand upon the meaning of Art. The anti-establishment ideals of such early movements as DADA were pick up in the early 1960’s by Fluxus, a group concerned with intermedia art forms. As the fine art establishment of the late 60’s did its best to stifle all competition in order to solidify their hold on the marketplace, many artists left out of the system found ways to rebel by using experimental art forms. One of the more creative methods inspired by Fluxus was Mail-Art which grew into its own movement by the 1970’s. Original works of art were made that could be sent though the mail without any container, only postage attached. A common form taken was that of the postcard but all sorts of media were used, many incorporating rubber stamps and the emerging technology of photocopiers. Much of this work was used as networking within the artistic community. Exhibitions were also held to which work would be mailed, shown, and then discarded afterwards as a poke in the eye to the over seriousness and commercial emphasis of the gallery scene. In Eastern Europe mail-art had a different evolution with more political implications. This form of non-sanctioned art could easily be made in defiance of authority. For the most part this innovation ended in the 1990’s as more and more artists started to network on the Internet.
A mail 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. It was one of many terms used for privately printed cards of the pioneer era. Though not authorized to be used after 1898 many of these odd sized cards were cut down to the size of private mailing cards and mailed anyway. Other mail cards continued to be sold just as souvenirs.
A mailed card is a term often used for a privately printed card sent though the mail before 1861, when the U.S. Post Office Department did not have regulations regarding any form of cards. They were considered a variant of a letter and required letter rate postage. The oldest known mailed card used in the United States dates from 1848.
Mainzer animals refer to the Illustrated dressed animals created by Eugen Hartong and depicted in various human situations. Hundreds of postcards containing these pictures were published in halftone lithography by Alfred Mainzer in the United States and in continuous tone by the Kunzli Brothers in Switzerland. Cats were the predominant focus of these cards but images of dogs, mice, and hedgehogs were also produced as a series. These cards were most popular from the 1940’s to 1960’s though these now vintage illustrations continue to be reprinted.
Marcolor is a trade name for the photochome postcards printed in Mexico for the Fischgrund Publishing Company in the late 1950’s. They were reproduced from color print film rather than the traditional method of using Kodachrome transparencies.
A marine fossil is the solidified remains of any form of sea creature with a calcite shell and the calcareous mud of the sea floor. When layer upon layer of these microfragmentations are compacted under great pressure and heat, limestone is formed over time. It is this type of stone formed during the Jurassic period that lithographs are drawn on. On good stones any remains of these former sea creatures have disappeared into a solid mass but on softer limestone recognizable remnants of various crustaceans may still be visible. Such flaws in a stone’s surface can be unpredictable when drawn upon so these stones were not used for high quality work. Even so such stone were sometimes employed to produce postcards and under magnification patterns of marine fossils may be found within an image.
A mask is a thin opaque sheet cut to a specific shape to prevent light from reaching the surface of photo paper. Masks were most often applied to real photo postcards during contact printing in order to create a white writing tab alongside the image. They could also be used to create regular white borders, fancy borders, ovals, and shapes. While die cut masks were sold commercially most amateur photographers just made their own, which is often in evidence by numerous examples of uneven edges or poor placement. As the use of enlarging became a more common practice, easels began replacing masks to create borders.
A maximum card is a postcard whose image is maximized in concordance with the stamp and cancelation placed on its front side. Placing a stamp on the picture side of a card was a common practice for those who collected postcards and stamps. In this way both picture and stamp would be visible when mounted into an album. Though stamped and postmarked many of these cards were just collected and never sent through the mail. At other times collectors would continue to mail these cards multiple times to see how many different stamps from different countries could be affixed. The first known use of the term Maximum Card was in 1932 though the practice dates back to the 19th century. In 1945 the Association of Maximum Card Collectors (Les Maximaphiles Francais) was formed in France and the hobby has grown much since. In 1980 the realizing of maximum cards had become an independent branch of Philately. These types of cards seem to have been most popular in Europe, especially in France. The act of collecting maximum cards is known as maximaphily. (See Timbre Cote Vue)
A mechanical card is a type of postcard that has moving parts. These cards were manufactured with a great range of styles and innovative techniques from having simple die cut appendages, to added parts or wheels that altered the visual image. Mechanical postcards seem to have derived from 19th century paper novelties.
Mechanical paper is a type of paper made from wood that has been ground down into a pulp. This type of fiber forms weak bonds and it is primarily used in paper products made for temporary use such as newsprint. It is high in lignin content, a substance within the cellulose, that attracts mold and insects, and raises the paper’s acid content, decreasing its longevity.
The Meisenbach process was the first commercial lithographic process used to reproduce photographs by employing halftones. George Meisenbach of Munich and Karel Klietsch of Vienna copyrighted this method in 1883. The Autotype Printing & Publishing Company purchased the rights to this process in 1886.
A metachrome is a type of novelty postcard first produced in Germany during the 1890’s. A normally printed card in black & white or color was coated with a thin layer of white paint reducing the image to a pale ghost. This allowed for a message to be written over its entire surface with enough contrast to render it legible. Once the receiver read the message the card could be soaked in water and the coating of paint along with the writing on it would dissolve away revealing the full clean printed image underneath.
The art of metalcutting began in France and German during 16th century as a method of creating multiple illustrations. It is a form of relief printing in which the surface of a metal sheet is lowered through the cutting of a graver or by the hammering of punches. When inked only the top untouched surface will carry ink and print. Metalcuts were later created for printing in letterset, especially when a fancy letter was needed. This slow technique was replaced by line block printing in the mid-19th century.
Many seemingly black & white printed images are actually reproduced with a full CYMK pallet, which lend themselves to metamerism, an exaggerated color shifting seen under changing light. While this pallet is often employed in offset lithography, it poses an even greater problem with inkjet printing where nearly all black & white images are printed this way. It is necessary to print colors alongside black in order to create smooth tonal transitions. The eye uses high contrast around the edges of shapes to bring out definition, so when a black dot sits in a field of white paper it becomes more noticeable, which is contrary to creating seamless optical grey. Some advanced printers use a light grey ink as well as black that dampens the metamerism problem but these devices are rare. So is the use of monochromatic ink sets that replace colors despite the fact that they work fairly well. The problem is most often handled by a raster image processor (RIP), which reformulates the color mix to include more black dots.
Meteor is a trademark for the transparent type of hold-to-light postcard (transparentpostkarte) first used around 1898. Different patent numbers appear on early cards but a patent may never have been granted for this process. Most Meteor cards have this design registered (D.R.G.M.) under 88077 for Wolf Hagelberg, or under 88690 for Gebruder Metz. These numbers often appear on the front of the cards. Cards with the Meteor name were produced by a variety of publishers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Some people call all hold-to-light cards Meteor cards, but this is incorrect usage of the term.
Mexichrome is a trade name for the continental sized photochromes that were printed in France in the early 1950’s for the Fischgrund Publishing Company in Mexico.
Mezzochrome is a trade name for a type of postcard distributed by American News Company that was printed in a four-color printing process similar to that of a collotype. They have a very fine dot pattern, which gives them a more photographic than drawn look. These cards were printed in Germany.
Mezzograph is a trade name used by Valentine’s to describe their continuous toned lithographic postcards printed in RGB colors at the beginning of the 20th century. These cards tend to have the same heavy look as those found in traditional chromolithography. They were printed in Great Britain.
A mezzograph dot is the product of a mezzograph screen in photomechanical reproduction. The screen consists of a single pane of glass on which each of the individual markings acts as a lens. While the name makes reference to the random pattern of a mezzotint it is actually created by the reticulation of gelatin as used in the ink-photo process, which is why these images have a resemblance to a collotype; only here the pattern is about ten times larger. Since this screen did not create a linear pattern it was primarily used to reproduce other types of line work such as engravings to eliminate the possibility of undesirable interference patterns forming by the crossing of two sets of parallel lines. Digital technology also makes reference to mezzotint dot patterns but they are only similar in their randomness, not the actual look of the markings.
Mezzogravure is an intaglio printing process designed for use with a rotary press that will produce prints with a fine deep tonal range similar to that found in mezzotints. This process was developed in 1910 by the Mezzogravure Company (Anglo Engraving Co.).
A mezzotint is an intaglio process in which a metal plate is physically incised with small dot-like impressions that can print rich blacks and subtle tonalities. A traditional mezzotint is created with a heavy curved blade with a serrated edge (rocker) that is rocked back and forth across a plate’s surface to create lines of small incised dots across its surface. When the entire surface of the plate is covered with near parallel lines a new set of lines are rocked onto the surface in another direction. This step is repeated to create at least six different directional sets of lines so when completed only a field of dots will exist without any discernible lines. The rocking tool does not just create holes in the plate, it rips up its surface creating accompanying minute metal burs. Because the burs will also hold some ink this effect creates a deep rich black when printed. To create an image the burs and holes must be polished out with a burnisher to bring back whites and gray tones. This surface is very delicate and it cannot be used for commercial printing. Its textural surface however is alluded to in other look a like printing methodologies. Modern plates for mezzotint can be produced by an automated machine.
A miniature card is a type of postcard that is smaller than standard size. The Post Office Department sets a minimum size of 2 3/4 by 4 inches that still could qualify for a postcard rate. Anything smaller is considered an irregular size and requires letter rate postage. Miniature cards were commonly but not exclusively printed as panoramas of 2 by 6 inches. Small holiday cards were known to be printed as small as 2 1/8 by 3 7/8 inches and they are often considered novelty cards.
Mirro-Krome is a trade name for the early high gloss photochromes manufactured by the H.S. Crocker Company.
A moiré pattern is an unintentional and unsightly ordering of dots that may appear when two or more grid patterns overlap each other. This pattern most often occurs in process printing when the overlapping halftones on a printing plate are misaligned at less than the prescribed angles. They are also created when a halftone image or other patterned texture is reproduced in another media that also uses a screen. Instead of individual dots disappearing in a field as they are intended they combined to create an entirely new highly visible pattern breaking the illusion of optical tones. A scanned halftone image viewed on a computer screen will show a moiré pattern because the digital recording system remaps all images in a linear pattern, adding dots that were not in the original (Dithering).
A monochrome image is one that displays all the gradations between black and white but only in one color. Many postcards were printed in monochrome colors. This was a way of adding appeal to a card without incurring higher costs. Sepia was the most common monochrome color, which was often used to imitate the familiar look of toned albumen photographs. Venetian red or carmine were often added to black ink to achieve this hue. Prussian blue and dark green were also popular colors for monochrome cards as it was generally believed that these inks enhanced the range of values.
Monochromatic is the property of film or photo papers to only be sensitive to the blue light wavelength of the visible spectrum. The result is only green and red wavelengths are rendered as black. This characteristic is typical of silver based emulsions.
Monotone means the lack of variety. The term was used as trade name by the American News Company for their black & white postcards printed in halftone lithography. These cards were promoted as being the highest quality black & white cards printed in the United States, though this claim is somewhat dubious as these cards were never popular.
A montage is an image created by bringing a number of different pictorial elements together in one piece. This term was directly applied to a style of postcard where more than one picture or subject is printed on a single card. Montage was a very common stylistic feature in 19th century illustrations and the convention was naturally carried over to early postcards of the same period. Very elaborate borders often interconnected the differing images into one coherent design. The Gruss aus postcards of these early years are the best examples of this style. Montage continued to be used throughout the 20th century though less common and in simpler form, often referred to as multi-view cards. A common montage motif was the butterfly woman, a figure or portrait with large wings each containing four inserted views. This style was picked up by modernist movements of the early 20th century and can often be found in combination with bold simple graphics on postcards from Eastern Europe. Montage was also used with real photo postcards that employed more collage techniques than drawn graphics, though there are beautiful exceptions.
Moxie is the name of the first carbonated soft drink to be mass-produced in the United States. It was invented by Augustin Thompson in Lowell, Massachusetts, and patented in 1876 as a medicine. It was marketed as a nerve food that would bestow the user with spunk. The Gentian root extracts use in Moxie’s production gives the beverage a bittersweet flavor with a strong aftertaste. While eventually driven out of the general market due to stiff competition with corporate giants, it continues to be distributed in the New England States. Advertisements for Moxie can often be found within early view-cards.
Multibabies refers to a type of illustrated postcard that heavily populated a scene with numerous babies. Many of these cards show babies in fields of cabbage (cabbage babies), a visual play on folk stories of where children come from, but most cards of this genre present these young children in other types of real to fantastic settings and situations. This once popular and rather unusual genre appears to have been influenced by late Symbolist painting.
A multi-view card is a type of postcard where more than one view is printed on it. Though some early postcards with decoratively vignetted scenes are sometimes referred to as multi-view, the term is usually applied only to cards in which its scenes are presented within clearly defined geometric boundaries and little or no added graphic elements. This stylistic form is found most often on generalized greetings from cards and for business advertising as in roadside cards.
A museum card is a postcard published by a museum depicting a piece from its collection or an artwork from a visiting show. Most museum cards are reproductions of art pieces though they may depict the architecture of the museum itself. They have been a very popular type of card since the beginning of postcard production. These cards are often produced in great quantity.
A myriorama is a type of panorama constructed from interchangeable cards. The foreground, middle-ground, and background of each card is different, but when laid out side by side they can be seamlessly be matched up with any other card in the series. These cards have been popular since 1824 when Clare of London coined the term Myriorama to describe her sixteen card set. Printed and hand colored versions were latter produced in the postcard format.