Palladiotypes (Palladium Print)
A Palladiotype is a photographic image based on the chemistry of the cyanotype in which paper is photo sensitized with iron salts. When developed out, the salts are replaced with palladium. This process has been used to create homemade photo paper since the 1870’s. Commercial palladium paper was introduced in 1916 as a substitute for platinum paper that became unavailable during the First World War. In the post war years the cost of palladium rose alongside that of platinum and its production was discontinued during the 1930’s. It is difficult to distinguish palladium prints from those made from platinum because they share many characteristics; their colors can range from a silvery gray to a warm brown; and they were sometimes even mixed together. Both metals are very stable for they embed themselves into the paper, rather than lie on the surface. This also gives the paper made with them a very matte finish that makes them almost unrecognizable as photographs. Palladium paper was used for real photo postcards but they are not very common.
Panchromatic (Pans Film)
Panchromatic refers to the ability of film to capture the entire spectrum of light that is perceived by the human eye. While the photographs produced from it look only subtly different from the first silver based photo emulsions that were only sensitive to the blue and ultra violet wavelengths of light, it had great implication for natural color reproduction. Panchromatic emulsion was invented by Frederick Ives in 1881 and introduced to the public as commercial film in 1906. By exposing this film through a series of color filters, photosensitized printing plates could then be exposed to these multiple negatives though the same color filters and render a natural color image when printed. The first photographs to be printed in color were created with color photo separations made from panchromatic black & white film. The greater sensitivity of this film means it must be processed in total darkness.
Paniconography, is a hybrid of lithography, intaglio and relief printing patented by Firmin Gillot in 1850. 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 then 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 exposed metal, the original plate surface will only remain untouched under each of the rosin dots where the transferred image had lain. Once a sufficient dead level is 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 complex 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 through paniconography, this process was elaborated on by Gillot’s son Charles to create the Gilliotype, which soon evolved into line block etching.
A panorama originally referred to a large-scale 360-degree painting within a cylindrical structure (rotunda) that is viewed from its center to immerse the viewer into an illusion of reality. The first such panorama was patented by an Irishman, Robert Barker in 1787. Though originally built in Europe, they were based upon earlier traditions of wide format paintings and prints. In the United States very long paintings to which a viewing admission was charged were common, and this tradition led to the emergence of panoramas by the 1880’s in the form of cycloramas where the viewer stood on the outside. Panoramas were a major art form of the 19th century and a leading form of mass entertainment depicting battles, religious themes, and foreign views. Eventually they took the form of dioramas sporting wax figures and sound effects to help compete with the movies that were siphoning of customers. The 20th century saw disasters and science fiction themes added as subjects to peak interest, but the audience for this type of entertainment continued to decline. By the 1930’s most had been demolished, and only two Cycloramas survive in the United States today depicting the battles of Atlanta and Gettysburg. As postcards emerged amidst their popularity, it was only natural for fold out cards to develop in order to present elongated views. Though not panoramas by classical definition, all wide views are now commonly referred to by this term. Many individual postcards and sets also reproduce sections of cycloramas.
The printed image on a pantographic postal card that is used to designate postage on its back is a reduction of the identical image pictured on the front of the card. These types of cards were first issued by the Canadian government in 1971 during the National Exhibition in Toronto. Australia began to issue similar cards in 1976 followed by Singapore in 1982.
Paquebot literally means packet boat in French, but it has more specific meaning when used by the Universal Postal Union when referring to mail originating on a vessel out in international waters. Once in port the mail aboard these ships that carry postage from the foreign country of origin would be transferred to smaller packet boats that would relay them to the local post office. This correspondence was then hand stamped with the term Paquebot to alert postal clerks that it was okay to accept this mail with a foreign stamp on it for processing since it was posted out at sea.
Paper Grains (Paper Tints)
A number of special grained papers were designed to speed up photomechanical reproduction in lithography. The most common of these was a heavy white paper embossed with a patterned field of dots on which the artist would draw with a black crayon. The black pigment had a tendency to only stick to the top of the dots but they could grow larger and the tone darker as more pressure was applied with the hand, similar in principal to making a rubbing. Other papers had thin ridges embossed into them, which when drawn yielded an image rendered in a series of varying lines. These lines were supposed to simulate those achieved through engraving, but the resemblance is tenuous at best. An artist could manipulate these grained papers in various ways with the nuance of his hand. When photographed and transferred to a substrate, the printed image would retain the value structure of an actual drawing even though created through small optical markings.
The Parallax Stereogram invented in 1903 is a form of three dimensional imagery that requires no external device to be viewed. It is based on optical principals discovered by Frederic Ives in 1896 when a two dimensional photograph was made to look as if it were three dimensional by altering its surface. An image is pieced together using very thin alternating cut strips from two photographs each taken of the same subject at slightly differing angles. A thin lenticulating sheet made with opaque bars of the same frequency as the divided strips of the collaged photograph were then placed over the image. As the left and right eye perceive this picture at different angles, the raised opaque bar situated between each alternating strip hides one complete photo from each eye causing the mind to interpret the differences seen as three-dimensional space. The problem with this method was that space could only be effectively read when the image was viewed at a specific angle.
Paris Postal Conference
In May and June of 1863, the Paris Postal Conference was held at the instigation of U.S. Postmaster General, Montgomery Blair. He was joined by delegates from Austria, Belgium, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Spain, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Hawaii, Switzerland, and the Hanseatic cities to discuss the idea of universal international postage and related issues. No final agreement could be made at this time, but most of their proposals would be adopted by the General Postal Union in 1875.
Paste-On Card (Tip-In)
Paste-on cards appeared in number during the 1890Õs when the supply of printed postcards was not yet reliable and the customers for them uncertain. These types of cards were basically printed in letterpress, incorporating a color design or words or both with a small photograph or other graphic work printed in a different medium pasted onto it by hand (tipped in). Sometimes only a blind decorative embossing was used around the pasted on image creating totally generic stock. These simple cards could be printed in small numbers on a jobbing platen or even a hand press lessening investment risk. These unique cards were not produced to create art but to impart a personal touch. Paste-on cards can often look like homemade cards though most were commercially manufactured.
Patriograph is a trade name for the souvenir cards published by the American Souvenir Card Company between 1897 and 1898. These cards were not sold individually but only in sets of twelve that were marketed towards the collector rather than the tourist. A subscription system was even set up so collectors could make purchases in advance of publication. Though these view-cards were artist drawn and had designs similar to that of European Gruss aus cards, they were printed in a poor quality tricolor line block by the Colortype Company.
During the election campaign of 1908, lower tariff rates were an integral part of the Republican platform, so after President Taft was elected he called up special session of Congress in order to address this issue. The House passed a bill close to the President’s wishes, but the Senate’s version was much more protectionist. Through the Payne-Aldrich Act, a compromise agreed to in 1909, tariffs were lowered on 650 items leaving 1,150 unchanged, but for 220 items including postcards, tariffs were increased. Up to this point postcards had only been minimally taxed, but this new protective measure heavily lobbied for by American postcard printers, made importing cards from Europe very prohibitive. Most postcards at this time were imported from Germany and American printers were tired of sharing such a large percentage of profits. Unfortunately they could not match the quality of German made cards and the best of these continued to attract an American audience despite the high tariff. Jobbers who had hoarded cards in fear of the tariff now dumped their overstock onto the marked severely depressing prices. This controversy over protectionism helped propel Woodrow Wilson into the Presidency in the next election. The Tariff Act of 1913 finally lowered the basic tax rates but much harm had already been done to international markets and the crippled postcard industry would never recover its former glory.
Pennant Cards (Felt Appliqué)
A pennant card is a type of pre-printed stock card to which a cut felt pennant baring the name of a location would be attached. Stock cards were usually acquired by small retailers who did not have enough customers to place regular sized orders with printers. Since felt could be printed on by using a small jobbing platen or hand press, generic cards could easily be personalized. By tipping in felt pennants with specific place names onto them, they could better satisfy the needs of a local audience that might not otherwise have view-cards to buy. Valentine & Sons made a variation on the pennant substituting felt with metal foil.
A Penny Dreadful is a type of comic valentine card first designed by Charles Howard in 1870. Its message was usually insulting in nature out of the tradition of the Vinegar Valentine.
The term penny postcard is informally applied to those postcards of age that only cost a penny to post. While many believe this term refers to the purchase price of a card it is a bit of a misnomer as postcard prices were never consistent. For most of the early years of postcards, they sold for one or two cents. There were however many cheaply produced cards that went for two for a penny. Likewise there were also cards of higher quality selling for three to five cents. Real photo postcards also sold for about a nickel or more. When buying postcards in quantity some sort of discount was usually available.
Philocarty is an archaic term used in the early 20th century for postcard collecting. It may originate from the French magazine, Le Philocartiste, first published in 1898.
A Phonopostal is a type of French novelty postcard in which a self-recorded message could be placed on an attached black lacquer record. A special device was needed to both record and play these messages; as they did not properly fit on a gramophone due to their rectilinear shape. These cards were created by the Pathe Company appeared prior to World War One.
The Detroit Publishing Company began utilizing the Swiss photochrom process (aac) after licensing it in 1897, and they eventually applied their own trade name Phostint to it in 1903. Not only did they alter the specifics of this process to give their own postcards and prints a unique look, they did much experimentation causing their postcard production to undergo a number of technical changes during the company’s history, which continually altered the appearance of their cards. Phostints are based on creating a continuous toned lithographic image through directly exposing a negative through contact printing to a stone photosensitized with a coating of Syrian asphaltum. By their careful control of the asphaltum in relation to its processing etch they were able to manipulate images in countless ways. It is even possible that they may have combined this technique with elements of the Vidal process. While typically six to sixteen litho-stones were employed to print all the different colors needed to create a single Phostint image, many more optical color variations were possible through their careful alterations of each stone. The precise details of their methods were kept such close trade secrets that when Detroit Publishing went out of business the techniques they developed died with them.
Photo Chrome is a trade name for a type of American made postcard originally distributed by the American News Company and later by Gut & Steers that was printed as a tinted halftone. The medium gray added to its tricolor tint creates a grain so fine it almost resembles continuous tone. Photo Chrome cards are characterized by bright cool colors and a soft hand drawn look.
Photo-Chromolithography is the process by which a black & white photograph was reproduced as a full color lithograph. No halftone screens were used as a photosensitized litho-stone was directly exposed to the negative. Color separations would be made by eye, and many stones would be employed to print the image as in traditional chromolithography. While there were many variations to this technique, they are all based on the Swiss Photochrom Process.
Continuous tone color lithographic was first developed in Switzerland in 1886 by Hans Jakob Schmid of Orell Fussli & Company and patented as the Ac Process in Austria in 1888. The Swiss firm Photochrom Zurich, later renamed PhotoGlob, was specifically set up for the printing of postcards and prints with this process that were referred to as photochoms. They later licensed out this technique to Photochrom Ltd. of England, and the Detroit Publishing Company in the United States. Both licensees made small changes to the way their stones were processed, providing each companyÕs cards with a distinctive look. For the most part the use of this process ended in the 1920’s as publishers sought out less expensive alternatives, but it remained in use in Switzerland until 1970.
The Photochrom process begins with multiple litho-stones that are coated with a photosensitive Syrian asphaltum (bitumen) dissolved in benzene. When dry, all the stones are then all exposed to the same photo negative through contact printing. No line screens were used in any part of this process. The bitumen hardens in proportion to its exposure to light, and the unhardened areas are then washed away with solvent. At this point the retoucher removes all parts of the image not relevant to the color assigned to that stone (photo-stone) while adding in any texture that is needed. Wool daubers and fine hairbrushes were often used with touche to finely adjust the tonal balance, which required a very delicate hand. In some cases new compositional elements would be removed or drawn in. Each stone then went through a very complicated etching process, which is where most of the techniqueÕs trade secrets lay. This manipulation of processing variables determined the nature of how and where the ink grain printed, which controlled the postcards final look. The stones were then printed in the same manner as a normal chromolithograph. At least six separate stones were required for this process, though the employment of ten to fifteen hues was more typical. The resulting images could capture a fair amount of detail with a great clarity of color even though completely broken down into small granules; but since they were based on black & white photographs, the handling of color by retouchers could render the same image either realistic or highly mannered.
In 1935 the Photochrome Process Company was formed by some of the former employees of the defunct Detroit Publishing Company in an attempt to revitalize the Phostint printing process. While they printed postcards until 1940 they were unsuccessful in capturing the look that made the originals so popular. Where the individual markings in Phostints retained sharp edges, Photochrome Process cards have a soft ill-defined look that rendered a similar matte surface as those produced through gravure but without the same richness in tone. Many now refer to the finish of these soft dull cards as frosted to distinguish them from the similar images that were previously printed by Detroit Publishing. These photo-chromolithographic postcards should not be confused with the tricolor cards of the same name.
The term photochrome has multiple meanings in a number of different fields. It was used as early as 1874 in the printing trades to refer to a printed image in natural color that was photomechanically derived from a photographic image; a process known as photochromy. This remains the general meaning of the word today. Nearly every type of tricolor print based on the theories that Ducos du Hauron pattented in 1868 were referred to as photochromes. This includes the early prints and photochromies made by Leon Vidal. Even though the Photocrom process is not based on tricolor principals, it attempts to reproduce photographs in color and bases its name on photochromy. The products of this multi-color process have often been incorrectly referred to as photochromes. The term has been further confused by a number of publishers and printers who described their products as photochromes when they were not.
In 1936 the development of new dye based color inks combined with the introduction of the first high quality, multi layered film, Kodachrome marked the beginning of process printing. For the first time color separated halftone negatives could be made for CYM hues with the aid of process cameras. When printed these three plates would render an image in better natural color than ever before. There were many variations to process printing in its early years as Kodachrome would take some time to perfect, and printing was done through both lithography and line block. Black would be added to the pallet as a fourth color (CYMK) but it was not consistently used at first. Postcards started to be produced through process printing almost immediately but not in numbers until 1939. War shortages put a damper on their production, but by the late 1940’s photochromes were in high competition with linen cards and have nearly monopolized production since the mid 1950’s. These modern types of tricolor postcards that evolved from their earlier versions are now what is meant when referring to a photochrome or simply chrome for short. Their quality has increased over the years with advancements in film and offset lithography, and now digital technology.
Photochromie (Vidal Process)
Photochromie is an early photo-chromolithographic process invented in 1874 by Frenchman, Leon Vidal that combined traditional chromolithography with elements of the photographic reproductive methods used to create woodburytypes. Duplicate glass plates were made from the same negative for each color required and then the areas not needed to print were covered with opaque ink. These transparent colors would then be printed over a photograph or a woodburytype. This technique produced very high quality reproductions but it was such a difficult and expensive process that it was rarely used. After some modifications that created an image entirely in ink, the firm of Nenke & Ostermaier obtained a patent for the photochromie process in Saxony that was based on Vidal’s earlier work. At first they used it to print postcards for other publishers but eventually they began to publish cards under their own name.
In 1854 the Austrian, Paul Pretsch patented one of the earliest forms of photomechanical reproduction named photogalvanography to distinguish it from more common forms of electrotyping. His negative charged copper plate would be first coated with a photosensitive dichromate gelatin emulsion then exposed to a negative image. The areas exposed to light would harden and the remaining gelatin was washed out in water forming a reticulated relief. The substrate was then electrotyped until its entire surface collected enough positive copper ions to form a hard coating thick enough to preform as an intaglio printing plate. The crevices formed by the reticulated gelatin on the original could now be made to print in a manner similar to that of an aquatint. Two years later his Photo-Galvanographic Company was producing plates for the printing trade. Photogravure replaced photogalvanography for most commercial work during the 1870’s but its principals would remain important for the development of the collotype, ink photos, and stereotyping.
A photogelatin print is an informal term sometimes used when referring to collotype. Collotypes are often said to be made by a photogelatin process, which utilizes a photosensitized gelatin in the transfer of the image from photograph to printing plate.
Photoglyphic engraving is a type of photogravure process developed by W.H. Fox Talbot in 1858. Prior to the invention of the crossline screen it was a way to create small ink cells on metal printing plates when transferring an image through a photo gelatin process. By melting the granules of an aquatint dusting made of gum copal powder to the plate before the photosensitive gelatin is applied, the random narrow channels left between them could later be etched where the gelatin was washed away during processing. This development not only created richer tones in the printed image but it allowed the plate to print wide expanses of black.
Photogravure is a form of intaglio printing in which a photographic image is chemically etched into a metal plate. First rosin is melted onto a plateÕs surface to create a random dot pattern, a clear photosensitive dichromate gelatin emulsion is applied. When dry, the plate is then exposed to light through a positive transparency. Areas where light hits the gelatin are hardened to form an additional acid resist, and the remaining water soluble gelatin is then washed away. This will leave some areas of the plate’s surface around the baked on rosin crystals completely exposed, while others areas will retain a thin gelatin coating in proportion to its exposure to light, which is determined by the density of the transparency that covered it. The plate is then heated at a higher temperature making its surface very hard, and the remaining resist is sometimes dyed a dark hue to better observe the image against the exposed metal. When placed in successive acid baths of decreasing strength, the metal will first dissolve in the exposed areas between the rosin dots. The thinner areas of gelatin will eventually be eaten away in proportion to its thickness, slowly revealing more bare metal to the acid. Areas that have less contact time with the acid will not etch as deeply as those that do, and these shallow wells will hold less ink producing lighter tones when printed. Since the plate is slowly etched down, the final print can hold very subtle gradations.
Experiments have been made with photogravure since the 1820Õs but various problems prohibited its commercial use for many years. By 1852 W.H. Fox Talbot was using a gelatin emulsion as an acid resist on metal plates. Six years later he achieved richer tones by first aquatinting the plate before sensitizing it. In 1864, J. W. Swan discovered a way of transferring an image onto a metal plate by using a photosensitive gelatin tissue. In 1879, Karl Klic replaced Talbot’s step of aquatinting the plate by infusing the gelatin tissue with a dot pattern. This process was able to produce an attractive random grain along with fine detail. Klik’s method provided more consistent results and became the most widely used. The use of gelatin tissue allowed this method to migrate to the faster rotary press. From here it would evolve into a more efficient form called rotogravure.
Photo-Helio is a trade name for a type of German made postcard distributed by the American News Company. These tinted collotypes were printed over lithographic tints of red, yellow, and blue, which created the effect of a bright cool palette. These cards are further characterized by their fine grain with smooth color transitions in the skies and crisp foregrounds.
The printing method by which an image is transferred to a lithographic printing surface by photochemical means is known as photolithography. Sometime around 1852 the French printer Rose-Joseph Lemercier became the first to create a photolithograph. His process basically began by coating a litho-stone with a thin layer of photosensitive asphaltum, which was then exposed to paper negatives. Three years later Alphonse Louis Poitevin patented a similar method, only his process used a photosensitive emulsion of dichromate in albumen or gelatin that was applied directly to the substrate. All early photographic transfers however were made through contact printing with exposure from the sun, and the size and weight of the stones made this procedure very difficult and not commercially viable. This problem was solved in 1864 when J. W. Swan invented a gelatin tissue that could also be photosensitized and exposed away from the substrate, and then later adhered to a stoneÕs surface. After exposure to a photo negative and washed out, only the light hardened gelatin will remain on top the stone as if it were a drawing. When the stone is dampened and rolled up with a greasy ink, the moisture will sit within the fine polished surface of the bare stone, and the rolling-up ink will only stick to the remaining photo emulsion. It is then lightly etched to chemically stabilize the image on the substrate. Once cleaned, it can be printed as a normal lithograph.
The term photomechanical refers to any mechanical transfer process where an original image on a photographic negative or transparency is placed on a substrate that will print the final image in ink.
A photo-mezzotype is a type of print produced through a photomechanical reproductive process in which an image is exposed to a photosensitized plate through a specialized halftone screen that produces random markings rather than pattered dots. While the name implies a look similar to a mezzotint, the random pattern formed looks more similar to an enlarged collotype.
Photo Supply House
A photo supply house is a business that gathers and stores photographic negatives, and then sells them on demand. They were a forerunner to the stock photography industry that developed in the 1920’s. Most of these photos were bought up from photographerÕs studios or other firms that were going out of business. The images were rarely copyrighted, and the photographer had little to no say on how their work would be used. The same image was often sold to different publishers at the same time with no regard to exclusivity. Few if any records were ever kept of the photographers who supplied their images. Many publishers relied on photo supply houses for their postcard imagery, especially after the turn of the 20th century when the demand for postcards was at its peak.
A phototypie is a continuous tone photomechanical printing process first patented in France by Alphonse Louis Poitevin in 1855. The photo emulsion had difficulties adhering to its copper printing substrate, which prohibited its use in commercial printing. After improvements were made to this process by Josef Albert in 1868 it became commercially viable. The new process came to be called by numerous trade names but was generally termed collotype, though collotypes continued to go by the term phototypies in much of Europe. The term Phototypie was also used as a trade name for the photo-chromolithographs produced by the Phototypie Company in Switzerland.
Photo Wood Engraving
Wood engravings often suffered when accompanying news stories because of their lack of accuracy. In the face of looming deadlines, the artist that needed to draw the image often had little more to go on than a field sketch or brief written description. Much of what ended up before the public was only an artist’s interpretation of events. This situation improved by 1860 when the Englishman Thomas Bolton discovered a method by which the end grain of a woodblock could be photosensitized. After being contact printed with a negative, the block wasnÕt processed for printing; the transferred image only acted as a guide so that a more realistic image could be cut into it. While this new method saved on production time and presented the news with more accurately, it wasnÕt appreciated by all. Many found the images produced to have a sterile commonality about them despite their beauty since artists were cut out of production. Engravers were no longer cutting to faithfully capture the artist’s lines and inflections; they were carefully rendering tones as accurately as they could with the maximum economy. Even with increased efficiency, highly skilled craftsmen were still required to engrave the image and it remained a slow and expensive technique. By the time postcards came into vogue, this process was already in a steep decline due to its high cost and alternative halftone methods being readily available. Illustrations made in photo wood engraving are most likely to be found on pioneer advertising cards where certain products needed to be rendered in detail by an unbiased hand.
There was a growing problem with wood engraving even while it became the staple of 19th century illustration. While methods of adapting type to the new rotary press were successfully developed, the thick hardwoods engravings were made on could not bend. This problem was eventually solved by a method of electroplating in which wood engravings can be cast in metal for use in xylography. A papier mâché or plaster cast is first made of the wood block then the inside is coated with a very thin layer of lead. By placing the coated cast and a sheet of iron into separate electrolyte solutions containing iron, the iron particles will slowly deposit themselves onto the lead when an electric circuit us run between the two containers. This process continues until it forms a sturdy duplicate of the original image. This metal replica could be made strong yet thin enough to be stereotyped onto a rotary press when a large press run was need.
Pictorial Writing Paper
Writing paper seems to have first been decorated with stenciled floral designs in France and Italy during the 1780’s. By the 1790’s it became popular to decorate paper that was to be used for a mailed valentine with a thematic printed image. By the early 19th century pictorial writing paper was being printed through both woodblock and lithography, and it was sometimes embossed. While some sheets were printed with military themes for soldiers to write home on, most were used for formal invitations. As more and more views began to be conveyed on pictorial paper they began to be purchased as souvenirs as much as for writing on. This type of paper became most popular in the United States and Great Britain during the 1850’s and 60’s, and was sometimes accompanied by matching covers. Their popularity began to fall when the introduction of the cartes-de-visite absorbed the attention of collectors, but pictorial writing paper helped to set up demand for cheap printed images that could be mailed or kept as mementos.
Pierrot (Little Peter)
A Pierrot is a white-faced figure in a white floppy clownish costume with big black buttons based on the character of a common servant named Pedrolino, created by the Italian Giuseppe Giaratone in the 1600’s. A French actor Jean Gaspard Debureau turned this awkward mischievous servant into a silent suffering lover called Pierrot in the early 1800’s. After his death, his son Charles continued the tradition of this character by opening a school for mimes. The Russian performer Alexander Vertinsky created a black Pierrot variation in 1916. Pierrot was a recognized figure in common culture when postcards emerged, and many illustrators placed him on cards.
Pigment is a colorant consisting of insoluble particles made up of many molecules. They are commonly ground into a resin, oil, or varnish base to create inks and paints. Pigments are generally more stable and lightfast than dyes of the same color.
Pinking refers to the pinkish stains found on paper where water soluble Aniline dyes used in printing ink have run. These types of stains are most often found on linen postcards and postage stamps.
Pin registration is a process of boring small holes in two corners of a litho-stone that would hold locating pins, and then punching corresponding pinholes through the paper that was to be printed upon. Each pin would have to be carefully placed on each stone in the exact relationship to the drawing so that all subsequent printings would perfectly align. As holes will remain in the final product their compositional placement also had to be considered so that they would remain hidden to the eye. This registration process was later extended to include the use of transparencies when exposing an image to a photosensitive plate. While the pinhole method is more precise than using registration marks since the paper cannot accidentally shift, it still had the undesirable effect of damaging the final print. Pin registration was not widely used commercially except when embossing was also employed because an irregular surface makes alignment more difficult when using traditional means. Many embossed postcards have one to three pinholes in them due to this, but they were usually placed in areas where they would be least conspicuous.
A pioneer card is a designation given to all pictorial cards made in the United States prior to the effective date, July 1, 1898, of the Private Mailing Card Act of May 19, 1898. Both images and message could only appear on the front of these cards as the back was exclusively reserved for the address and stamp. Government issued postals at this time could be mailed for one cent while cards that were privately printed required two cents postage, which greatly hampered their usage. Since there was no national distribution system for cards at this time, many were just manufactured for a local audience by small printers and publishers that did not record their names on the cards. Even so, many well known printing houses produced these early cards. Most did not survive the depression of 1893 to print postcards. Pioneers were used for correspondence, souvenirs, advertising and many other business activities.
Any printmaking process in which the printing and non-printing surface of the substrate rests on the same flat plane is called planographic. Areas to hold ink are created through chemical means rather than cutting or incising a relief. Lithography is the primary planographic printing method.
Plastichrome is a trade name for postcards produced by the photochrome process that were published by Colorpicture. These cards are usually labeled P Series.
A plate is a substrate that holds an image that can be printed to create multiple identical images. Plates can vary in thickness, so they can be rigid as those used in most intaglio processes, or thin and flexible as those used in lithography. Intaglio plates are highly polished before use while plates for lithography must have a grain ground into them to mimic the texture and absorbent quality of a litho-stone. The qualities of a plate required by a particular technique were often in conflict the best commercial printing processes of their day. Those that could not be adapted to new technologies eventually caused a number of techniques to die out.
A plate mark is the slight but visible embossment that surrounds an intaglio printed image. It is caused by the tremendous pressure placed on the back of the paper and the difference in height between the press bed and the printing plate as it is run through a press. Plate makes can usually be found on intaglio prints that were hand pulled from small plates. Commercial presses that utilized impression cylinders with a number of images on them did not create plate marks as each image is cut apart from large printed sheets. Sometimes embossing was placed around an image after it was printed to create the illusion of a fine art intaglio print (false intaglio) as a marketing ploy.
The tonal qualities of an intaglio image not printed from its incised lines, but from the excess ink lying atop the plateÕs flat surface is known as plate tone. Just prior to printing, ink is applied to the entire surface of an intaglio plate, which is then hand wiped with rags or cheesecloth to only remove the excess ink from its surface and not its lines. This method however cannot remove all the ink leaving behind a very thin film that will print. Sometimes ink is purposefully pulled out of the incised lines while hand wiping to create unique tonal effects (retroussage). Plate tone is also part of the effect created by intaglio methods such as drypoint and mezzotint that tear at the plate’s surface to leave behind burs that only loosely trap ink. Ink left behind through wiping provides each impression with its own individual look if only subtly. In commercial printing methods such as rotogravure the excess ink is removed with the aid of a mechanical blade that wipes the surface completely clean. This speeds up the printing process and creates uniform prints.
A platen press is a simple type of press where a printing plate or letterpress form is placed on the press bed and locked in position. Grippers will then move single sheets of paper from the feeding stack to the heavy metal platen. Rollers apply ink to the plate on the press bed and then the bed and the platen are pressed together like a clamshell transferring the image onto the paper. When the platen and the bed spread apart, grippers remove the paper and place it in a tray. Platen presses were operated by pressmen and could be used in small shops. Smaller versions of this press that were developed in the United States are known as Jobbing Platens.
Platinotype (Platinum Print)
A Platinotype is a photograph produced by a process patented in England by William Willis in 1873, based on the iron salt chemistry of cyanotypes. As iron salts are developed out of the paper’s emulsion, they are replaced by platinum, which is added to the wash solution. This process yields a matte finish with very subtle gradations of silver. Another version that created sepia tones was later patented in 1878. In both methods the platinum imbeds itself into the paper, rather than lying on the surface as with albumen and silver gelatin prints. These are some of the most durable of all photographs for they are not prone to fading. Almost half of the prints made by the great photographers at the turn of the century utilized this process, but it was also used for creating homemade real photo postcards. During WWI platinum was strictly reserved for wartime activities, and in the years that followed its popularity declined in proportion to its rising cost. Since platinum prints required contact printing, they also fell out of step with the growing trend of enlarging smaller negatives, and commercial manufacture of the paper was discontinued in 1937. There was a revival of handmade platinum prints in the 1960Õs but this was not applied to the manufacture of postcards.
Plenochrome is a trade name used by the American News Company for a type of tinted collotype with a very distinctive fine grain. These cards were printed by Stengel & Co. in Dresden, Germany.
Pneumatic mail is a method of high speed mail delivery in which correspondence is placed in sealed cylinders and propelling through airtight tubes with high air pressure. The exact mechanics of these systems can vary, but generally compressed air was used to create a differential in pressure that would both push and pull these cylinders through tubes at speeds up to 40 mph. Even though the telegraph had sped up the delivery of messages, they still needed to be transcribed from code and written down, and the time lost in doing this often proved crucial in activities such as the trading of stock. The first Pneumatic mail system was built in London in 1853, followed by Berlin in 1865, and then Paris in 1866. This Technology eventually spread across Europe and to the United States. Philadelphia was the first American city to build a pneumatic system in 1893 with; Boston, Chicago, New York, and St. Louis to follow. Though originally conceived of as a technology that would replace the letter carrier by delivering mail to every individual home, the system proved very expensive to operate and even more costly to build. By the end of WWI all American systems were shut down except for those in New York City, which ran its 55 miles of tubes until 1953. Prague was the last city to use pneumatic mail, closing their system in 2002 after 105 years of service. In Europe, only mail of a certain size was allowed in most tubes so unique forms of postal stationary and postcards were created. The pneumatic systems in the United States could carry normal mail because of the larger tubes employed with cylinders capable of holding 600 letters. Pneumatic systems are still widely used in large businesses for inter office correspondence.
See Pneumatic Mail,, dated Feb 22, 2007 in the Blog section)
Pochoir (French Stencil)
Through the 1920’s and 30’s, stenciling had become a popular medium in its own right. This was most evident in Paris where it became known as pochoir; used extensively to illustrate the latest in fashion and design. Pochoir almost immediately began to be applied to the production of postcards as the general influx of modernist tendencies in design created an audience for the flat clean color that the technique produced. Celluloid and plastic came to replace the traditional metal foil stencils, but otherwise the technique was generally unchanged from earlier years. The transparent watercolor long used to paint over ink was now largely replaced with an opaque gauche that provided these cards with more intense coloration and a truly painted look. Some cards were produced with only a few colors but most used many hues. Black was still often used in a linear fashion as a key to hold the flat colors of the composition together. While beautiful postcards were produced with pochoir, it was a costly time consuming process and it eventually succumbed to its cheaper rivals. Stenciling however would soon evolve into the more commercially viable screen printing process.
Poly-Chrome is a trade name used by the American News Company for their screenless photo-chromolithography process. The texture on these cards is similar to that of the Photochrom but they all tend to lack their fine grain and they can be more generally characterized as having broader flatter shapes. Their texture in fact is much closer to that of a chromolithograph with a heavier amount of retouching but this is obviously a photo-based process. The colors on these cards are bright and so flat that they almost resemble screenprints. While European publishers used the same process, but without the Poly-Chrome name, they all seem to have been printed in Germany before 1907. Poly-Chromes were also printed in the United States during the First World War, with an M prefix and white borders, but these lithographic cards have a different grained texture.
Polyester is short for polyethyleen terephthalate. Products made from this stable plastic are safe to use in conjunction with postcards for archival purposes. They are often found under the trade names Mylar D or Mellinex.
Polyethylene is a stable, flexible, transparent or translucent plastic. Products made from polyethylene are safe to use in conjunction with postcards for archival purposes.
Polypropylene is a stable, stiff plastic with good transparent clarity. Products made from polypropylene are safe to use in conjunction with postcards for archival purposes.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Polyvinyl Chloride is a very popular plastic used in a wide variety of products. It is however unstable and will emit hydrochloric acid as it ages. Postcards should never be placed in contact with this type of plastic as it will cause the cards to yellow and turn brittle over time.
Postal Carditis is a term coined by John Walker Harrington in 1906 to describe the pathology caused by cranko-organisms leading to the faddy degeneration of the brain, and well exhibited in the behavior of hoarding postcards.
The term postal is usually a reference to an officially issued mail card issued with preprinted postage on its back. The first U.S. postal was issued in May 1873. With a few exceptional periods, the postage rate for postals remained one penny until 1952. Publishers or advertisers would often purchase postals in large uncut sheets and then print on them.
U.S. Postal Service
See Post Office Department
Postcards were first developed as a regulated sized piece of card stock paper to be used as an inexpensive method of sending correspondence through the mail. The lower price encouraged correspondence, and in this manner they became important instruments in reinforcing social bonds. As more and more pictorial decoration covered their surface, interest in postcards as mementos, souvenirs, and collectables increased. While some early postcards played an important role in disseminating pictorial news, they are for the most part instruments of propaganda depicting the world in a manner that represents the values of their audience. The term Post Card had been exclusively reserved for use on government issued postals until the Post Card Act of 1901 took effect. This legislation lifted the restrictions imposed by the Private Mailing Card Act of 1898 and the words Post Card could now be placed on cards printed by private publishers. Over time the term post card evolved into postcard through popular use. Today all forms of mailed cards are often informally referred to as postcards regardless of their proper historic designation.
The term post card is an archaic spelling of postcard, used primarily in the early 20th century. Its use is still considered acceptable though rarely found.
Post Card Gun
A post card gun is a type of camera used to make photo lapel buttons and real photo postcards without the need of a negative. An image was exposed directly onto postcard sized printing out paper placed inside the camera. Chemical developers were not needed as the image would appear on the paper when exposed to sunlight. These cameras may not have had a glass lenses but worked on the same simple principal as used by pinhole cameras. Properly sized photo paper with the camera manufacturer’s logo or name on the back was often sold along with it. These devices began being promoted around 1912 as a fast way to make easy money. This fad or possible scam seems to have died out after only a few years leaving much doubt as to its functionality.
Postcard Punk is a modern term used to describe someone brandishing all the classic attire and accruements that were usually associated with the Punks of the late 1970’s such as leather jackets, torn clothing, piercings, and wildly dyed and spiked hair. The term can also insinuate that a person is only posing as a Punk and is not a true one at heart.
The government official in charge of a local Post Office is known as a postmaster. Before the consolidation of Post Offices into full time facilities many small communities had part time Postmasters whose main occupation would be running a store that the Post Office happened to be located in. In the United States, postmasters are usually given personal discretion in what they feel needs to be confiscated from the mail as inappropriate.
In the United States the government official in charge of the entire Post Office Department is known as the Postmaster General. The position has been in existence since colonial times when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General in 1775. Between 1829 and 1971 the Postmaster General held a seat on the Presidential Cabinet.
A postmistress is a female postmaster. It has always been an informal term that is no longer in common usage. In the days when the position of postmaster was often a part time job, both husband and wife may have taken on official duties even though only one of them was officially employed. Women have also served as Postmasters by themselves since the earliest days of the Post Office Department.
Post Office Department
The U.S. Post Office Department is a government agency established by the Continental Congress in 1775. At that time Benjamin Franklin was appointed the task of creating a system capable of moving correspondence between individual Colonies as they began to break their ties with England. After the Constitution was ratified in 1789 the United States Post Office became an official department of the new government to be run as a monopoly. There were 75 post offices in existence at this time. The Post Master General, a Cabinet position, headed the Post Office Department. The original Department only transported mail between post offices and did not deliver mail to homes or businesses until 1863 when free city delivery was instituted. In 1902 free rural delivery became official policy, and in 1913 parcel post delivery became a service. By the 1960’s the Department was having difficulty meeting the demands of the public and it was abolished in 1971 to be replaced by a new agency under the executive branch named the United States Postal Service. At that time the position of Postmaster General was removed as a Cabinet post. The U.S. Postal Service however continues to retain the same monopoly on the delivery of regular mail.
The term Pressmen is traditionally applied to workers in a guild who operate hand presses. As printing presses were first adapted to steam power, pressmen continued to work them; but when larger and more complex cylinder presses were developed, a new manager class of press operators emerged with them. These new workers were paid more than pressmen and they formed a separate guild that often put them at odds with each other. As technology continued to create more advanced types of presses, a general rise in skills was required for all workers involved in printing. By the 1890’s all different types of workers in the print trades saw common cause and joined together under a single trade union.
A press run is the totality of output from a press in one continuous round of printing. A press run might end when the desired number of prints are made or when the plate stops producing adequate impressions due to wear. Different types of printing plates will wear out at varying rates, which can determine the size of a press run. Normally it is the time involved in setting a press up for printing, and the time needed to clean up afterwards that creates the need to print many images at one time. A printer usually has a set minimum number of sheets that need to be printed before a profit can be realized. This number can vary widely with the size and complexity of the press. Retailers however usually need to sell half of the cards ordered just to break even on investment thus creating some reluctance to place large orders despite any discount. Popular postcards were often reprinted as needed rather than printing high volume in long runs.
A primary color is one that cannot be created by the mixture of other colors, and all other colors can be created by a mixture of only primary colors. There has been no consensus to what specific colors constitute primaries or their numbers, usually three, over time. Few if any distinctions were made between additive and subtractive colors until the late 19th century. The four main color groupings that were important to printers of postcards were the material or artist’s primaries of red, yellow, blue (RYB), unique hues or psychological primaries of red, green and blue, yellow (RGBY), additive primaries of red, green, blue (RGB), and subtractive primaries of cyan, yellow, and magenta (CYM). Up until recently all scientific theories of color revolved around the principal of primary colors, though there is some doubt today that they exist. While printers have long worked with primary colors, inks do not precisely match up to primary colors nor do they mix according to theory.
The term print began to be used informally in the mid-1980&rsquos to describe the oversized cards that were larger than continental postcards. They were most often 5 x 7 inches in size and did not all have postcards backs. They also required letter rate postage to send through the mail because of their non-standard size.
Printing Out (POP)
Printing out is an aspect of certain photo papers where the full image will slowly appear in full as the exposure is being made. No chemicals are needed for development as light energy alone produces the image. The ability to end an exposure just as the image appeared perfect proved to be great advantage to photographers; it only needed to be washed and fixed afterwards. For most of the 19th century all photo papers were printed out.
Private Mailing Card
A Private Mailing Card is the only type of card officially sanctioned for the United States mail between July 1st, 1899 and December 23rd, 1901. These cards could be privately printed and mailed at the same one-cent or two cents overseas rate as government postals, ending the U.S. Post Office Department’s monopoly. There were however a number of unusual restrictions; they had to be made 3 1/4 by 5 1/2 inches, which was smaller than standard size, and the words Private Mailing Card - Authorized by act of Congress, May 19th, 1898 were required to be printed on the back of all cards, along with This side is exclusively for the address in the left corner. No messages were allowed on the back of these cards, only the address and the applied postage. There were also color requirements as they could only be printed in light shades of buff, cream, or gray. A few publishers printed cards with the term Private Mailing Card prior to 1898 in anticipation of the Act, but the size chosen was typically too large causing many to be cut down. While a variety a different card types continued to be mailed in this period without penalty, many publishers went out of business because they could not afford to redesign their cards. Many view the Private Mailing Card as an unwieldy compromise between the government’s desire to be rid of the obligation to print cards and their fear of loosing revenue that impaired America’s fledgling postcard industry.
In color theory the mixture of all three subtractive primaries, cyan, yellow, and magenta should create black, but colorants react differently than light energy. Since they cannot absorb all wavelengths due to their chemical makeup, they tend to yield a dark muddy brown when combined. This near black is referred to as process black. A true black is often added to process colors in printing.
A camera with a special lens designed to photograph 2-dimensional objects and render them in high contrast is called a process camera. They come in vertical and horizontal models depending on the type of work to be done. They are most often employed in the production of halftones for printing plates. Before photographing an image a halftone filter is place in front of the camera’s lens. Different types of filters can reproduce an image in dots of varying sizes or same size dots in different densities of area. If the image is to be printed in color a series of photographs are taken with color filters to create four negatives for each CYMK color. Process cameras only came into use in the late 1930’s after a stable high grain color film (Kodachrome) was invented. Digital scanners have now replaced much of the work done by process cameras.
During the late 1800’s the tricolor process had been primarily applied to the manufacture of lantern slides, where black & white transparencies would be projected back through the same red, green, and blue (RGB) color filters they were shot through. This proved fine for lantern shows where the natural color images created were formed through an additive mixture of projected light, but this principal proved problematic when dealing with ink printed on paper. When a photosensitive substrate was exposed through the same color filter that the transparency was shot through very little of gelatin emulsion would be exposed because the filter itself subtracts the colors that the printing ink should. This meant that plates exposed through RGB filters needed to be printed in their complimentary, cyan, yellow, and magenta (CYM), which are the subtractive primaries. These process colors would then optically blend back into RGB colors on the final print for the human eye to perceive.
A process print was a term originally used to describe a print that had no supplemental retouching or additions made to it such as hand coloring. This term was later applied to photomechanical made tricolor prints that could give the illusion of natural color without retouching work added. Today a process print usually refers to one printed with process colors.
Process printing is a modern trichromatic printing method that theoretically produces the illusion of a full color image in natural color through the use of only four printing plates inked with the three subtractive primaries, cyan, magenta, yellow, plus black (CYMK). It is based on the tricolor process patented by Ducos du Hauron in 1868 but adapted for use with the new process colors that only became available in the 1930’s. Its first use is often attributed to Alexander Murray in 1934. Process printing has been most successfully when used in conjunction with offset lithography, a method through which most modern photochrome postcards are printed.
A Proof Set is a type of limited edition postcard series issued by Raphael Tuck & Sons that was designed to appeal to the serious collector. These cards reproduced the same images found on their regular cards, but gold borders and the word Proof were printed onto them. Each set was issued with a certificate guarantying that they were part of a limited first printing.
The job of a proofer in the printing trades was to create a trial proof of a color image made from multiple inked substrates. He would then examine the image and correct any faults on the individual plates before it went into full production. This was extremely important in chromolithography where many stones carrying different colors were used to create a single print. Today much of this task has been automated.
The suspension of cellulose fiber in water from which paper is made is called pulp. Cellulose for paper can be extracted from wood, bamboo, cotton, esparto, hemp, flax, straw and various other organic materials through the process of beating, mechanical grinding, or by chemically means. Cellulose can also be extracted by beating fabric (rags) made from any of this material.
Punch Out Toy
A punch out toy is a printed image that can be punched out from a sheet of card stock paper along die cut perforated edges. During the 19th century the production of paper dolls and animals grew into a large industry. Smaller punch out toys that could be folded into shapes were also sold. This process was eventually adapted to novelty postcards.
A puzzle postcard is one that contains an image that has been die cut into interlocking pieces. The first picture puzzle seems to date back to 1760 when the English cartographer John Spilsbury cut up a map mounted on wood into individual countries to better teach geography. These early novelties on wood where often made with the same tools used in marquetry work, but this slow handiwork came to be industrialized when pictures pasted to cardboard were die cut on press beds. The same cut could be used with multiple images because the pattern did not follow the printed image. Puzzle postcards were printed on paper that was then adhered to cardboard before being die cut. They are considered a form of novelty card as they are too small to offer a real challenge as a puzzle.
A perforated puzzle postcard is a variation of the older puzzle postcard that is printed on paper rather than card stock without cardboard backing. Its pieces are not cut through but only perforated in straight lines by a die and punch machine. These devices were first introduced in the 1840’s and are best known for their work in separating stamps. The same perforated pattern could be used on multiple cards because it had no relation to the printed image. After a message was written on the card’s back, it was then folded along the perforated lines until all the pieces were separated. Each piece would then be mailed separately similar to an installment postcard set. Once reassembled the entire message could finally be read. These types of cards were usually sold in an envelope with printed instructions on it.
Pyrography (Writing with Fire)
Pyrography, more commonly referred to as woodburning or pokerwork is an ancient form of art that entails burning designs or pictures into wood or leather. It was widely used to produce novelty postcards, especially where the material used was so thick it was impossible to print on. Many of these unique cards were produced on thin sheets of veneer that were then backed with paper that had already been printed with a postcard back. This not only made them easier to write on, the paper also covered up spots where the wood might have been accidentally burnt through. Sometimes this process was used in conjunction with flexography.