A rack card refers to continental sized cards issued since the mid 1990’s that are generally given away for free as advertising. They are usually found in card rack displays, but they can be distributed in a variety of ways. Rack cards are a variant of the older give away postcards once popular with hotels and restaurants.
Radiol is the trade name for the form of bronzing specifically used by the Berlin publisher Paul Finkenrath to apply metallic colors to his cards. (See bronzing)
Rag paper is a type of paper made from plant fiber that is easily broken down into pulp without the use of chemicals. The fibers from cotton and flax are most often used to create high quality papers, though cotton rags and mill sweepings have long been used as a cheaper source for high quality cellulose. Esparto grass now provides quality fiber for rag paper but it is not commonly used outside of Europe. Rag papers generally have archival properties and are very strong due to their interlocking fibers. While many rag papers are acid free the rag content in itself is no guarantee as to its ph level. Because of its high cost its use in postcard production was very limited except as a percentage of content added to chemical pulp. The quality of paper used for postcards varied widely between publishers.
A railway hotel is one that is owned by a railroad company located near one of their train stations. As railroads grew larger they began purchasing and building large hotels in order to offer more complete travel packages that would encourage tourism through their line. While some hotels provided rooms at important transfer points, many others became tourist destinations in themselves and an excuse for rail travel. Railway hotels also became major distribution points for postcards bringing railroads into the publishing business.
Railway Mail Service
Railway Mail Service is the exclusive use by the U.S. Post Office Department of privately owned rail lines to sort and deliver mail. The Government first experimented moving mail by train in 1832. Six years later all rail lines were officially declared postal routes. As railroads and the country grew so did the Railway Mail Service. By 1862 Railway Post Offices were established on rail cars for the sorting of mail en-route. By 1930 there were over 10,000 such cars serving every American city and town that had a rail line running through it. These postal routes extended beyond the station terminals as trolley and cable car lines were eventually added to the service to carry mail even further. By 1971 all but the New York to Washington line had been closed and replaced by trucks and planes. On June 30th, 1977 the last Railway Post Office closed. Mail that was processed through the Railway Mail Service received special postmarks and they are now collected.
Two distinct colors could be added to an image printed from a single plate by gently blending only the edges of each together on an inking slab with continuous passes of a roller before transferring it to the plate. A darker key plate would then print the image over the tint. The colors chosen were often blue representing sky and a reddish brown for the earth but both of the same tonal value. These choices were more symbolic than representational as they sometimes had a standard division at the midpoint of an image making no real reference to its subject matter. Rainbow rolls were largely used in conjunction with collotype, lithography, or line block printing in the early 1900’s.
Real Photo Postcard
A real photo postcard is an actual photograph on card stock that was designed to be mailed. While photographs were sent through the mail in the 19th century, it was not until 1902 when Kodak introduced Velox photo paper with a pre-printed postcard back that real photo cards began to appear in number. Because these easy to make cards could be contact printed with the postcard size negatives available from Kodak cameras it is sometimes impossible to tell if an image is a one of a kind made at home or one that was mass-produced. Many other gaslight papers were introduced with AZO being one of the most popular. These types of cards became very common and eventually nearly all photographs were produced in the postcard format. These cards became instrumental in disseminating news when newspapers rarely carried pictures, and they captured many intimate moments of private life that would never have been commercially published. The specific characteristics of these cards varied as photo technology continued to grow. The ability of photochromes to reproduce photo-like images in color at a low price put most real photo postcard publishers out of business and these cards are rarely seen beyond the 1950’s.
Rebus (Hieroglyphic Puzzle)
A rebus is an image where the placement of a picture within a line of text acts as a substitute for a phonetic sound or an entire word. The term is derived from the Latin, by things. The use of rebus first became popular in 18th century England, and had been employed in early illustrated books. Rebus cards were already being printed as novelties in the 1860’s to satisfy the public taste for word games. It was later used on postcard greetings, especially valentines. There was a revival of the use of rebus in advertising during the 1930’s.
A receivers mark is an official hand stamp placed on mail at the Post Office that accepts delivery to acknowledge receipt. As it is not used for cancellation it does not appear over the stamp and the words received or some sort of similar abbreviation is included within its design. In the early years of rural free delivery mail could sit in a Post Office for months before ever being picked up. The receivers mark was a way to let the addressee know how long it was sitting there. Receivers marks were only officially required prior to 1907 but many individual postal clerks continued to use them for many years afterward.
A Reflectoscope is a type of magic lantern specifically designed for the projection of postcards. Rather than projecting an image through a traditional transparency, an opaque flat image could be captured by a mirror and then its reflection projected onto a screen. Various models existed that could be powered by alcohol, electric, or gas. The term Reflectoscope was also used as a brand name for a slide projector.
Registration is the practice of perfectly aligning paper, especially over multiple printing surfaces so they will print in the proper location and create a single image. While this is done automatically on highly mechanized presses, the matching of cross line markings (registration marks) on the back edges of printing pater with corresponding marks on the substrate were often employed on hand presses. For every additional color used in printing there were more chances of non-alignment and waste. Many postcards entered into distribution with a printed color out of alignment as quality control tended not to be a overriding issue.
A reissue is the second or additional printing of a postcard made from the same photograph. Postcards were usually ordered in quantities ranging from 500 to 6000 cards. Large orders were not usually placed because about half of the cards purchased needed to be sold just for a retailer to break even. The delicate nature of many printing plates also prevented larger press runs even if they were desired. Popular images of tourist attractions or resorts had no trouble selling and were often reordered a number of times. Due to the complex nature of creating an image on a plate before color photo separation, no two reissues could ever look the same. Sometimes these differences were intentional to make a card look new and generate more sales. Reissues are responsible for most postcard variations.
All methods of relief printing are characterized as being made from a printing substrate whose flat top surface carries the image when rolled with ink while all non printing areas (the color of the paper) are cut away so that they fall below the surface plane (dead level). It is one of the few techniques where prints can be pulled either from the pressue supplied by a press or solely from burnishing by hand. Wooden planks were the traditional material used for the relief substrate, but cast metal would eventually become predominant for use in commercial printing.
The writing of letters served as an important agent in reaffirming social bonds during the 19th century, but as postcards became popular they largely took over this function. While postcards were widely advertised as a product that could ease the burden of letter writing, many did not accept this break with etiquette. The expectation of receiving mail from friends and family grew regardless of slovenly habits, and many postcards contain written messages complaining about the absence of long overdue correspondence. This was such a common occurrence that pre-printed reminder cards were published with such messages as Why Don’t You Write?
Reproducing postcards were first copyrighted as novelty items by A. Loeffler in 1895. These cards had a simple drawn linear image printed onto them in a light ink and then the same linear pattern would be embossed into it from the back. A postcard printed back would then be glued onto the uneven surface so it could be written on more easily. The front of these cards contained printed instructions advising that a piece of paper be firmly held over it while a soft pencil or crayon is rubbed over the picture. In this manner the image could be roughly reproduced more times than anyone would have patience to do.
A retoucher is an artist or tradesman who alters a photographically produced image in the production phase of its creation. Retouching was not only used to remove mechanically created flaws or unwanted objects, it was an absolutely necessary step in the production of early postcards. The retoucher was responsible for separating the colors on printing plates before photographic separation techniques were available and nearly all postcards prior to the 1950’s show their handiwork. They were also responsible for adding clouds and other atmospheric effects that were not recorded in photographs. While retouchers generally followed the instructions of their managers they were often left to work with much discretion. Once photochromes were introduced the need for retouching work greatly declined. Photo retouching is a separate craft in which actual photographs are altered after they are printed.
see Plate Tone
A reverse negative is one where the image it contains has been reversed from the original so when transferred to and printed from a plate it will read correctly. In all photographic processes, images are transferred emulsion to emulsion so there is no space for light to scatter and blur the image. Some film may be thin enough to produce a satisfactory image from the non-emulsion side, but this is impossible to achieve when a glass negative is used. Printing from one emulsion to another is not a problem when making photographs, as the single transfer from negative to photo paper was the final product, but when printing from a plate the final image on printing paper would mirror the plate’s image. A second negative in a reversed orientation (mirror image) was needed before the image could be exposed to the plate. This process is known as a double transfer.
Reward cards carrying appealing images and subject matter began to be produced in the 1880’s as a marketing strategy; they were included free with packaged goods as a reward for the purchase. Since these cards were produced as collectables and were not meant to be mailed, descriptive information as well as advertising was usually placed on their backs. They were issued in sets to encourage multiple product sales among those anxious to collect them. Reward cards were usually larger than trade cards but not quite up to that of a standard sized postcard. Cigarette cards eventually became the most popular form of all reward cards.
In Great Britain another type of reward card appeared between the 1880’s and the 1920’s. These cards were issued by schools on a quarterly basis to act as a reward for good attendance by students. They were initially produced in a standard postcard size, and without advertising on their backs they could be mailed. A wide variety of subjects such as animals, plants, ships, scenery, and fairy tales appeared on them, which were mostly rendered by drawn illustration. In 1903 these cards were printed in larger sizes, making them impossible to mail without trimming them down. As they became difficult to place in standard sized albums their collectability and popularity declined.
Richkrome is a brand name for a type of early photochrome postcard printed by the Steelograph Company in New York City during the 1950’s.
A ring-size gage is a type of trade card used by jewelers in which twelve holes were die cut to exactly match numbered ring sizes. Advertising for the store would be printed on one side and instructions for use on the other. While most of these cards were produced in a simple black & white, many early cards can also be found in chromolithography. They were in use from the 1860’s well into the 20th century.
Postcards that invite the viewer to engage in sexual fantasy inspired by the suggestive expression, attitude, or pose of the subject are considered to be risqué. These are never nudes for they are based on notions of teasing and cannot be explicit. The specifics of this definition are somewhat open to interpretation and have changed over time. Many images once considered risqué or even obscene would now be thought of as prurient. Because of differing attitudes as to what is obscene, the same card seized and destroyed by one postmaster can be overlooked by another and delivered.
Road of a Thousand Wonders
The Road of a Thousand Wonders was a name given to the Southern Pacific Railroad’s 1300 mile Shasta Route, running from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, in an effort to encourage tourism. A great many postcards were created of the views along this route, and references to the Road of a Thousand Wonders are often found printed on them.
The Roosevelt Bears are a specific pair of anthropomorphic bears used in illustration. In 1902 after Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a tethered bear on a hunting trip the incident was rendered into a political cartoon whose popularity attracted national attention. This incident inspired the creation of the Teddy Bear, which quickly became a best seller. By 1906 the New York Times added to this craze by publishing a comic strip by Adolph Ochs depicting two bears traveling east to meet the President. The following year Seymour Eaton published a children’s book on the travels and adventures of the Roosevelt Bears. As these bears became nationally recognized characters their images began appearing on both postcards and in advertising.
Rosin is the sap from resinous trees that has been hardened through a purification process. Rosin is available in crystal or powdered form. It is hard and brittle, melts at low temperatures, and is soluble in alcohol. It is often used in intaglio printing as a component of acid resists, especially with the aquatint method.
A rosette is the final flower like design that results from the printing of three halftone plates whose frequency patterns lay at a 30 degree difference to one another. The printed surface that results will create the illusion of continuous tone while avoiding the creation of moiré patterns. Just a one-degree difference can form noticeable interference. Rosettes can be found in both tricolor and process prints.
Between 1750 and 1850 numerous versions of a rotary press were invented. They had already been in use for some time for printing on fabric but little is known about them. The Englishman, David Napier who had made many improvements to the cylinder press patented a design for a rotary press in 1837 but did little to put it into production. It was the rotary press patented in 1844 by Richard M. Hoe of New York City that would revolutionize the printing industry. It consisted of one large roller into which columns of type were fitted surrounded by a number of smaller impression rollers that applied pressure to the back of the paper. A separate image could be printed simultaneously for every impression roller present with only one revolution of the large roller. Unlike the roller of the cylinder press that would turn back and forth with the press bed, Hoe’s roller would continuously turn in only one direction. Printing speed was determined by how fast this roller could be made to rotate and how many impression rollers could be fitted around it. While this press used hand fed sheets of paper, another design that would accept and cut web fed paper was invented by William Bullock in 1865. Hoe and Bullock would work together to make many additional improvements to rotary presses. By the 1890’s there would be a variety of rotary presses available, and within ten years most of these steam driven machines were electrified. As presses were motorized they became ever faster, and with electric power a whole range of new features could be added to them.
Rotogravure is an intaglio printing process in which an image is transferred to a rotary printing cylinder by photochemical means. Early attempts to utilize rotary presses to print gravure were hampered by the seemingly impossible problem of exposing a cylinder to a halftone screen. Karl Klic found a solution to this problem in 1895 when he discovered a way to infuse a gelatin tissue with a halftone screen, optically diffusing an image when exposed to a transparency. In addition to the pattern formed by the screen, rosin dust was melted onto the cylinder to further break down the printing surface into small irregular markings. This helped create the methods deep rich printed look. Because the tonal quality of gravure creates soft edges, text was often overprinted by another method such as letterpress if needed. By 1904 this method was in common use despite Klic’s efforts to keep it a company secret.
Two textile printers, Eduard Mertens and Ernst Rolffs took rotogravure’s development further in 1908. Rolffs developed a method by which a gelatin tissue is double exposed, first to a non optical gravure line screen that hardens the fine screen lines creating a series of soft square cells between them. A second exposure is then made with the transparency that holds the image, which causes these square cells to harden in proportion to the amount of light filtering through the film image. It is then adhered to a copper coated cylinder and washed out with water, where it forms a reliefed acid resist. The cylinder can now be etched by rotating it in a tray of acid. This incises a continuous toned image into its surface by creating small ink cells of substantial but varying depth. The deeper depressions transfers more ink to the printing surface creating darker areas while the shallow areas print lighter. The areas of the cylinder that are not etched become the non-image areas. During printing the etched screen cylinder revolves in an ink fountain where it is coated with fluid ink. Mertens invented a wiping blade (doctor blade) that clears ink from the surface areas while leaving the ink in the depressions of the screen cylinder, protected by the grid. The fine lines of the screen pattern which were not etched and should theoretically print white but they optically disappear as the ink spreads across the paper’s surface. When paper passes between the etched screen cylinder and an impression cylinder, its soft rubber covering pushes the paper into the incised steep ink cells and the image is transferred onto the paper. For small runs such as postcards, sheet-fed presses were most often used. Because cylinders were expensive to make, they were most often used with web-fed presses for very long runs. For runs of a million or more, the cylinders are plated with chromium to provide extra durability. When printing with process color, blue, red, yellow, and black are used instead of the usual CMYK colors of offset lithography. A separate cylinder would be made for every color used in a print. After this process was patented in 1910 it soon began being used in commercial printing.
The cutting away of metal around the image on a plate that is not needed to print is know as routing.
Rural Free Delivery
Rural Free Delivery was a mail delivery service provided to rural areas by the U.S. Post Office Department. Postage was traditionally paid to cover the cost of transporting mail from post office to post office. Home delivery was only available through private companies for an additional fee. It was not until 1863 that the Post Office Department started City Free Delivery to locations with over 10,000 inhabitants. This represented less than a quarter of the nation’s population for even with rising urbanization most American’s continued to live in a rural environment. In 1896 an experiment was initiated to deliver mail to regions outside of cities, which was a difficult task since most mail went out by horse and buggy until the service was motorized in 1914. By 1902 Rural Free Delivery became official postal policy. This service greatly fed the postcard craze as it created a new audience of millions.