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 was not 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. Palladium and platinum 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 visual spectrum of light. Earlier silver based film was only sensitive to the blue and ultra violet wavelengths. The color sensitivity of panchromatic film is closet to that of the human eye. Because of its greater sensitivity this film must be processed in total darkness. By employing color filters when first shooting, color photo separations can latter be made from black & white film. Panchromatic emulsion was invented by Frederick Ives in 1881 and introduced to the public as commercial film in 1906.
A panorama refers 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. By the 1880’s the panorama returned to America in the form of cycloramas where many were built depicting battles, religious themes, and foreign views. Panoramas were a major art form of the 19th century and a leading form of mass entertainment until dioramas with wax figures and sound effects began to accompany these paintings 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 a panorama by classical definition, all wide views are now commonly referred to by this term. Cycloramas themselves provided imagery for a number of postcards.
On a pantographic postal card the printed image used to designate postage on the back side of the card is a reduced form the identical image pictured on the front of the card. They 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 is used a a specific term by the Universal Postal Union when referring to mail originating on a vessel out in international waters. Once in port, mail from these ships, carrying postage from the country of origin would be transfered to smaller packet boats that would relay them to the local post office. This correspondence was hand stamped with the term Paquebot to alert postal clerks that it was okay to accept mail with a foreign stamp on it since it was posted at sea.
Paper Grains (Paper Tints)
The most common of paper grain 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 would be drawn upon in the same manner but the resulting image would be rendered a series of varying lines. This was supposed to simulate engraving but the resemblance is tenuous at best. The 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. These papers were designed as an easy way to create a wide range of values through optical blending in order to speed up production.
A Parallax Stereogram is a two dimensional photograph made to look as if it were three dimensional through alterations in its surface. Invented in 1903, it is based on optical principals discovered by Frederic Ives in 1896. An image is pieced together in very thin alternating cut strips from two photographs each taken of the same subject at slightly differing angles. A lenticulating sheet with opaque bars of the same frequency as the divided strips on 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 the effect only properly took place when the image was views 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, 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 the 1890’s when the supply of 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 and then pasted onto it by hand (tipped in). Sometimes only a blind decorative embossing was used around the image creating totally generic stock. These cards could be printed in small numbers on a jobbing platen or even a hand press lessening investment risk. These cards were not produced to create art but to impart a personal touch. Paste-on cards could often look like homemade cards though most were commercially manufactured.
A Patriograph is a trade name for souvenir cards printed by the American Souvenir Card Company between 1897 and 1898. These cards were not sold individually but only in sets of twelve marketed towards the collector rather than the tourist, and a subscription system was even set up for 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. They were usually carried by small retailers who would print specific place names onto them as requested by their customers. The felt could easily be printed on by using a small jobbing platen or hand press allowing small quantities of cards to be ordered where the audience for them was limited. Valentine & Son 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. The 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 prior to World War One.
The Detroit Publishing Company began utilizing the Swiss photochrom process 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 the postcards and prints they produced 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 there 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 postcard originally distributed by the American News Company and later by Gut & Steers that was printed as a tinted halftone. A medium gray tint is added that 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. They were printed in the United States.
The photochrom process is a continuous tone photomechanical reproductive method developed in Switzerland in 1886 by Hans Jakob Schmid of Orell Fussli & Company and patented in Austria in 1888. The The process begins with litho-stones coated with photosensitized bitumen dissolved in benzene, which when dry are then all exposed to the same photo negative through contact printing. No line screens were used in any part of this process. The asphaltum 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 needed texture. 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 drawn in. Each stone then went through a very complicated etching process where most of the technique’s secrets lay. This manipulation of processing variables determined the nature of how and where the ink grain printed that 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 though completely broken down into small granules could capture a fair amount of detail with a great clarity of color; but since they were based on black & white photographs the handling of color by retouchers could render the same image realistic or highly mannered. The Swiss firm Photochrom Zurich later renamed PhotoGlob was specifically set up for the printing of postcards and prints with this process, which ended for the most part in the 1920’s as publishers sought out less expensive alternatives but it was still used in Switzerland up until 1970.
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 of the originals. Where the individual markings in Phostints retained sharp edges, Photochrome cards have a soft ill-defined look that rendered a similar matte surface as those produced through gravure but without the same richness. 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.
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 a process he called photogalvanography to distinguish it from more common forms of electrotyping. His negatively charged copper plate would be first coated with a photosensitive dichromate gelatin emulsion then exposed to a negative film image. The areas exposed to light would harden and the remaining gelatin was washed out in water forming a reticulated relief. The plate was then electrotyped until its surface collected enough positive copper ions to harden it for printing in intaglio. Two years later his Photo-Galvanographic Company was producing plates for the printing trade. The French firm Goupil & Cie developed a similar process that was used extensively for art reproductions. Gravure had replaced photogalvanography for most commercial work during the 1870’s but its principals would remain important for stereotyping.
A photogelatin is an informal term for a collotype. Often collotypes are said to be made by a photogelatin process.
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 the printing plate is coated with a fine resin powder, which is melted onto it to create an acid resist with a random dot structure. Next a photosensitive dichromate gelatin emulsion is applied and exposed to a positive transparency. When washed, the gelatin hardened by light will remain on the plate and form an acid resist. The remaining gelatin will wash away in proportion to the density of the transparency that covered it, exposing the metal surface of the plate. When placed in successive acid baths of decreasing strength, the metal will dissolve in the exposed areas between the rosin dots. The thinner areas of gelatin will eventually wear away in proportion to their light exposure to revile the metal of the plate underneath; but because they have less contact time with the acid they won’t etch as deeply thus producing lighter tones. This process produces thousands of irregular ink cells in varying depths that merge into a subtle continuous toned image. Though the results obtained by this process are of a higher quality than many other printing methods, its complexity makes it more expensive to produce. This process was not typically used for American made postcards, but in Europe many monochromatic cards were employed it. Before color separations could be made photographically black & white photogravure was often combined with color lithography.
Experiments have been made with photogravure since the 1820’s 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 hybrid postcard distributed by the American News Company that was characterized by a fine grain with smooth color transitions in the skies and crisp foregrounds. They were made by printing a collotype plate inked in black over lithographic tints of red, yellow, and blue, which created the effect of a bright cool pallet. These cards were printed in Germany.
The printing method by which an image is transferred to a lithographic printing surface by photochemical means is known as photolithography. This process was first used with litho-stones and then litho-plates including those designed for offset lithography. Each type of substrate has specific requirements and there are variations in processing but all basically begin by preparing the printing surface with a photosensitive gelatin emulsion. This can be done by applying the emulsion directly to the substrate, or indirectly by first exposing a sheet of gelatin tissue and then adhering it to the plate. After exposure to a negative, processed and washed out, the light hardened gelatin remains on the plate as if it were a drawing. When the plate is dampened and rolled up with a greasy ink, the moisture will sit in the grain of the bare substrate, and the ink will only stick to the remaining emulsion. It is then printed as a normal lithograph. Most postcards were printed using some form of photolithography.
The term photomechanical refers to any mechanical transfer process where the original image to be reproduced starts as a photographic negative or transparency, and the final image will be printed in ink.
A photo-mezzotype is a photomechanical reproductive process in which an image is exposed to a photosensitized plate through a special screen. The random pattern formed looks similar to that of a collotype.
Photo Supply House
A photo supply house is a business that would gather and warehouse negatives then sell them on demand. They were a forerunner to the stock photography industry that developed in the 1920’s. Most of these photos were not copyrighted; the photographer had little to no say on how they would be used and the same image was often sold to different publishers at the same time. Few if any records were ever kept of the photographers who supplied their images.
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 to 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 Phototypiewas 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 for their lack of accuracy so a method of photo sensitizing the end grain of a woodblock was found, to which a negative could contact printed. While this method saved on production time and resulted in a more realistic image, many have a sterile commonality about them despite their beauty since the artist was cut out of the loop. 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 the alternative halftone methods becoming available.
Wood engraving had become the staple of 19th century illustration but as methods of adapting type to the new rotary press were developed there remained a problem; hardwoods do no bend. This problem was 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 it 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 1890’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 were sometimes accompanied by matching covers. With the introduction of the cartes-de-visite their popularity began to fall, but this product helped 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 this character's tradition by opening a school for mimes. The Russian performer Alexander Vertinsky created a black Pierrot variation in 1916. Pierrot was a commonly recognized figure when postcards emerged and he was placed on many illustrated 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 were used in printing and have run. Sometimes these stains are found on linen postcards and postage stamps.
Pin registration is a process of boring small holes into a litho-stone to hold mounting pins (locating pins), and then punching pin-holes through the paper that would directly correspond with pins placed into the substrate. Each pin would have to be carefully placed on each stone in the exact same relationship to the drawing so that all subsequent printings would align. Though first used with chromolithography, this method was adaptable for use with flexography, rotary letterpress, and offset lithography. This registration process was later extended to include the use of transparencies when exposing an image to a photosensitive plate. While the pinhole method was more precise than using registration marks since the paper could not accidentally shift, it still had the undesirable effect of leaving the paper damaged on the final print. Because of the holes, pin registration was not widely used commercially except when embossing was also employed; 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 pictorial postcard, authorized by the U.S. government, that was produced prior to the effective date, July 1, 1898, of the Private Mailing Card Act of May 19, 1898. Any image or message could only appear on the card’s front as the back was reserved exclusively for the address and stamp. Most images were printed directly onto government postals and could be mailed for one cent. If cards were privately printed they 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. Pioneers were used for correspondence, souvenirs, advertising and many other business activities.
Any printmaking process in which the printing and non-printing surface rests on the same flat plane that is not cut or incised by any means is called planographic. Lithographs make up the majority of planographic prints.
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 flat substrate, usually of metal, that holds an image that can be printed is referred to as a plate. 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.
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 that are printed not from its incised lines, but from the un-wiped ink lying atop the plate’s surface is known as plate tone. Just prior to printing, the entire surface of an intaglio plate is covered with ink. If it is to be hand wiped as in fine art printing, rags or cheesecloth are employed to remove the excess ink from this surface but this method cannot remove all the ink leaving behind a very thin film. 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 expected look from intaglio methods such as drypoint and mezzotint that tear at the plate’s surface to leave burs behind that trap excess ink. Ink left behind through wiping provides each impression with its own individual look. In most commercial printing methods this 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. Because platinum prints needed to be contact printed they also fell out of step with the growing trend of enlarging, and commercial manufacture of the paper was discontinued in 1937. There was a revival of hand made platinum prints in the 1960’s but they were never used for postcards again.
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 delivering correspondence placed in sealed cylinders by propelling them through airtight tubes with high air pressure. The exact mechanics of 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 and written down, and the time lost doing this 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 America carried normal mail for they employed larger tubes than those of Europe with cylinders capable of holding 600 letters. Pneumatic systems are still widely used in large businesses for inter office correspondence. (See Pneumatic Mail Feb 22, 2007 in the Blog section)
Pochoir (French Stencil)
During the 1920’s and 30’s stenciling became a popular medium in its own right. This was most evident in Paris where it was 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 flat clean color that it produced had become more acceptable amidst the general influx of modernist tendencies in design. Celluloid and plastic replaced the old metal foil stencils that were traditionally cut out with a knife, and transparent watercolor was 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 often used as a key, applied in linear fashion to hold the composition together.
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. 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.
Polypropylene is a stable, stiff plastic with good transparent clarity. Products made from polypropylene are safe to use in conjunction with postcards.
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 a postcard issued by a government with preprinted postage on its back. The first U.S. postal was issued in May of 1873. For the most part 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.
Postcards were developed as a regulated sized piece of card stock paper primarily created to be used as an inexpensive method of sending correspondence through the mail. In this manner they became important instruments in reinforcing social bonds. As more and more pictorial decoration covered their surface, interest in them 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.
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 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. 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 an entire Post Office Department is known as the Postmaster General. The position has been in existence since colonial times when Benjamin Franklin was appointed to it 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 position both a husband and wife may have taken on official duties even though only one of them was actually employed. Woman have also served alone as Postmasters since the earliest days of the Post Office Department.
Post Office Department
The 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 to move correspondence between the 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 Postal Service however continues to retain the same monopoly on the delivery of regular mail.
Pressmen is a term traditionally applied to workers in a guild who operate hand presses. As presses were first adapted to steam power pressmen continued to work them; but when larger and more complex cylinder presses emerged a new manager class of press operators emerged with them. They were paid more than pressmen and formed a separate guild that often put them at odds with each other. As technology continued to create more advanced 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 to unionize.
A press run is the totality of output from a press in one continuous round of printing. Because of the time involved in setting a press up for printing, and the time needed to clean up afterwards, a printer usually needs to print a minimum number of sheets to realize a profit. This number can vary widely with the size and complexity of the press. Some press runs may be limited by the printing medium as different types of printing plates will ware out at varying rates. If a printer normally prints in high volumes (long runs), it may be too inconvenient to fit in a small order. Since the setting up of a press for printing is a large part of a card’s expense, printing larger quantities brings down the individual cost of a card. A retailer however usually needs to sell half of the cards printed to break even on his investment thus creating some reluctance to place large orders despite any discounted cost.
Up until recently all scientific theories of color revolve around the principal that all colors can be created from a limited number of specific colors. These specific colors, usually three in number are referred to as primaries as they themselves cannot be created by color mixtures. The hues considered to make up primaries have not been consistent 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 if cyan, yellow, and magenta (CYM). Printing inks do not precisely match up to primary colors, nor do they mix according to theory.
The term print began to be used in the mid-1980’s 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.
Printing Out (POP)
Printing out is an aspect of certain photo papers where the full image will appear as the exposure is being made. No chemicals are needed for development as light energy alone produces the image. This type of photo paper only needed to be washed and fixed. The ability to end an exposure just as the image appeared perfect proved to be great advantage to photographers. 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.
In color theory all three subtractive primaries, cyan, yellow, and magenta should mix into black when combined, but colorants react differently than light energy; they cannot absorb all wavelengths due to their chemical makeup and appear as a dark muddy brown instead. This near black is referred to as process black.
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 principal proved problematic when dealing with ink printed on paper for when a photosensitive substrate is 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 means that plates exposed through RGB filters needed to be printed in their complimentary, cyan, yellow, and magenta (CYM), which now became the subtractive primaries. These process colors would then optically blend back into RGB colors on the final print for the human eye to perceive. No printing inks came close to matching these colors until the 1934. When all three subtractive primaries are combined, black should be formed, but chemical color pigments react differently than light energy; they cannot absorb all wavelengths and appear as a dark muddy brown instead. Because of the inability of inks to mix into an optical black, black ink (K for Key) needed to be added to create dark values.
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 those photomechanical prints that could give the illusion of natural color without retouching work added, and that were created from only three printed 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 became available in the 1930’s. Its first use is often attributed to Alexander Murray in 1934. Process printing has been most successfully applied to offset lithography, through which most modern photochrome postcards are printed.
A Proof Set is a type of postcard series issued by Raphael Tuck & Sons in a limited edition that was designed to appeal to the serious collector. These cards contained the same images as found on their regular cards, but they had gold borders added and the word Proof was printed on them. Each set was issued with a certificate guarantying that they were from 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 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 cellulose fiber suspended in water from which paper is made is called pulp. Cellulose can come from wood, bamboo, cotton, esparto, hemp, flax, straw and various other organic materials that are extracted by beating, mechanical grinding, or by chemically means.
Punch Out Toy
A punch out toy is a paper toy that is punched out from a printed postcard along die cut perforated edges. These toys were often dolls or animals.
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.