A magic lantern is a light projector of a positive image placed on 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. As the popularity of lantern shows grew during the 1870’s, lantern slides began to be commercially produced. By this time many magic lanterns used a series of filters to project color images from black & white transparencies years before the Autochrome process was developed. Lantern slide shows remained 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 on the search for more imagery to print.
Mail Art has been around 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, it soon became stale and moribund while claiming to be cutting edge. 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. It was 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. Even so at the same time the activities of the International Union of Mail Artists have steadily grown. This was a large and international movement and there remains much debate on its definition, origins, and current status.
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 then mailed. Other mail cards continued to be sold as souvenirs.
A mailed card is a term often used for a privately printed card sent through the mail before 1861, when the U.S. Post Office Department did not have regulations regarding any form of cards. They were then considered a variant of a letter and required letter rate postage to be mailed. 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, which were depicted in various human situations. They were first printed in Switzerland during the 1940’s by the Kunzli Brothers where they became known as the Kunzli Cats. After the rights to these images were acquired by Alfred Mainzer in the United States around 1952, the newer cards of the Dressed Cat Series began being referred to as Mainzer cats, though anthropomorphic images of dogs, mice, and hedgehogs were also produced. While new images were made in the same style and spirit as found on the older cards, they lost their European flavor. When production moved to Belgium, the fine continuous tone of early cards was replaced by halftone lithography. Hundreds of different postcards were published until the 1960’s when their popularity waned, though subsequent sets and these now vintage illustrations continue to be reprinted in a number of different countries.
Manufactured tints were applied to a printing substrate in order to add regular or random patterns into an image before it was processed. They could be used to draw an illustration, or used to add tone or color back into a photomechanical transfer. These tints were invented in 1879 by the New York printer Benjamin Day. He produced film sheets embossed with a pattern that could be rolled up with a greasy transfer ink, and then conveyed to a litho-stone. Because these sheets were transparent the retoucher could see where the pattern needed to be placed guided by the chalk drawing underneath, and by applying localized pressure to the back of the film the ink could be transferred to the desired areas either evenly or in varying degrees of intensity. The pattern will print the same color as that of the rest of the stone they were added to. Day and other manufacturers produced these tints in a wide variety of patterns though dots were the most popular. At first glance these dots (benday) can easily be mistaken for a halftone screen pattern, especially when both are used on the same plate.
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 more 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 were first drawn on. On good stones any remains of these former sea creatures have disappeared into a solid mass, but on softer limestone some recognizable remnants of various crustaceans may still be visible. Such flaws in a stone’s surface can be unpredictable when printing as they might not accept the image drawn upon them. Stones containing fossils are only used when better stones are not available, and never for high quality work. Even so, such stones 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 decorative shapes. While die cut masks were sold commercially, most amateur photographers just made their own. This 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 same subject matter of the stamp and cancelation placed on its front side. Placing a stamp on the picture side of a card was already a common practice for those who collected both 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 became 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 regarding the placement of stamps on postcards)
A mechanical card is a type of postcard that has moving parts that are propelled by hand. They seem to have derived from similar 19th century paper novelties made only for amusement. These cards were manufactured with a great range of styles and innovative techniques from having simple die cut appendages to sliding panels and added wheels that altered the visual image when they moved. While they sometimes expressed a serious message, their unique qualities were largely used in an attempt to attract customers in a market saturated with postcards. Many of these cards were very fragile and few come down to us today in perfect working orders.
Mechanical paper is a type of paper made from wood that has been ground down into a pulp by machines. 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 paperŐs acid content, decreasing its longevity.
See Manufactured Tints
The Meisenbach process, patented in Germany by George Meisenbach of Munich and Karel Klietsch of Vienna in 1882 based itself on the early Ives process. He created a line screen by etching parallel lines or small marks into a sheet of glass and then contact printing a positive transparency through it onto a negative. The line screen would be turned one or more times to break up the regular pattern and its exposure onto the same negative would then continue. The resulting negative could then be transferred onto a photosensitive intaglio plate or turned into a positive for use in lithography. 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 where a black & white or color card printed by normal means was coated with a thin layer of water soluble white paint. This coating reduced the image to a pale ghost, which allowed 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 all writing 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 anything printed with a CYMK palette lends itself to color shifting under changing light, this problem can be exaggerated in black & white images produced through an inkjet printer. Many seemingly black & white images printed by inkjet are actually made up of CYMK dots so that smooth tonal transitions can be created. 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 German made postcard distributed by American News Company that was printed in a four-color printing process similar to that of a color collotype. They have a very fine dot pattern, which makes them look more photographic than hand drawn.
Mezzograph is a trade name used by Valentine’s to describe their postcards produced through an unusual tinted collotype process. Two collotype plates, one in black and another in a medium blue were printed over lithographic dots in a light RYB pallet. These cards tend to have a heavy look to them as most of the paper’s surface is covered with ink. They are also usually dominated by an unnaturally blue color cast. Mezzographs were printed in Great Britain in the early years of the 20th century.
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 their only connection is 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.).
Ludwig von Siegen coupled the intaglio processes of drypoint stipple engraving to create a process in which an entire metal substrate is covered with small jagged dot-like impressions that will create rich blacks and subtle tonalities when printed. Soon after in 1657 Prince Rupert of the Palatinate sped up the process by substituting the burin with a heavy curved blade with a serrated edge (rocker) that is rocked back and forth across the plate’s surface to create lines of small incised dots. When the entire surface of the plate is covered with near parallel lines a new set of lines are rocked onto the surface at a differing angle. This step is repeated a number of times until no discernible line pattern can be seen. The rocker does not just create holes in the substrate it rips up its surface creating accompanying minute metal burs that also hold ink as in drypoint. To create an image on a mezzotint plate its burs and holes must be burnished down or out in order to form grey tones and bring back whites from an otherwise solid black field. Since no lines need to be drawn this subtractive method often lacks personal style, which made it ideal for reproducing paintings. The burs created by both drypoint and mezzotint are very delicate and wear down quickly with every pass through a press so they cannot be used for commercial printing where large press runs are needed. 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 U.S. Post Office Department sets a minimum size of 2 3/4 by 4 inches that still qualifies for a postcard rate. Anything smaller is considered irregular sized and requires letter rate postage. Miniature cards were commonly but not exclusively printed as panoramas of 2 by 6 inches. 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 interference 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 that are 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 was a characteristic of all early film and 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 a composition created by bringing a number of disparate pictorial elements together to form a single image. This term is usually applied to a style of early 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 each image 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 but usually in simpler form. These newer examples are typically referred to as multi-view cards. 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 on real photo postcards that fused imagery from multiple negatives together.
Moxie, invented by Augustin Thompson in Lowell, Massachusetts, and patented in 1876 was first sold as a medicine. It was marketed as a nerve food that would bestow the user with spunk before it became the first carbonated soft drink to be mass-produced in the United States. The Gentian root extracts use in Moxie 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 New England States. Advertisements for Moxie can often be found within early view-cards.
Multibabies refer to a type of illustrated fantasy postcard that heavily populated with babies. These babies tend to only have a strange presence and do not take an active role in the narrative. 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 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 early decorative postcards with scenes in vignette are sometimes referred to as multi-views, 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 view-cards with generalized greetings, and on roadside cards used for advertising.
A museum card is a postcard published by a museum depicting a work of art from its collection or from a visiting show, though they may depict the architecture of the museum. They have been a very popular type of card since the beginning of postcard production. While early art cards were usually of the highest quality employing many colors, museum cards tended to be produced through less elaborate means to make them readily available to the public. Many photo houses produced these cards on photo paper for greater fidelity, though they could only appear on cards as black & white reproductions.
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 their edges 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.