The use of sailing notices began in the late 17th century in the form of leaflets that were distributed in public places to give general descriptions of a shipís date of departure and destination for those interested in passage or shipping goods. By the 1840’s many of these notices began being printed as trade cards that often presented more specific information. They were later replaced by handbills and postcards. They were often referred to as Clipper Cards in the United States during the latter 19th century.
Satista paper is a hybrid iron salt-based photo paper invented by the Platinotype Company in England, which was first sold in the United States by the Willis Platinotype Company in 1913. This paper contained silver and a minimum amount of platinum, due to war shortages. Satista paper produced a cold black print and was often hand colored with watercolor. A sepia version called Satoid was also produced. Satista was not very popular and production was discontinued around 1917 after palladium paper was introduced.
Saturation in association with color refers to the measure of its purity. Highly saturated hues contain pure color, and as they move toward gray their saturation is lowered (desaturate). Pure grays have no saturation and are considered neutral.
Saucy postcard is an English term for a type of risqué card that contained no nudity but provides overtly sexual innuendo in illustrated comic form. They were most often sold at seaside resorts from which they became better known as Saucy Seaside Cards, whether they depicted a beach scene or not. As their popularity grew in France, they began to be printed with bilingual text. Thousands of these cards were confiscated under the Obscene Publications Act, and the conviction of artist Donald McGill in 1954 created a climate of fear that brought an end to their general production. While widely revived in the 1960’s and 70’s, their sales steadily declined in the years that followed as public taste shifted.
Saxony is a heavily industrial region of east central Germany that was incorporated into the German Empire in 1871 where it remained a Kingdom until the end of World War One. It became a Free State of the Weimar Republic in 1919 until its collapse in 1933. It was dissolved in 1952 and broken down into smaller districts but it became a Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 after East West reunification. A tremendous amount of postcards were manufactured in the printing houses of Saxony, most notably from Leipzig and its capitol Dresden. Many postcards make reference to being printed in Saxony rather than Germany.
A die-cut tooth-like border with rounded points around the edges of a postcard is referred to as a scallop edge. These decorative edges began being used by some publishers in the 1940’s, but they are more commonly seen on the photochromes of the late 1950’s and 60’s.
Scientific perspective is a method of creating the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional plane though the employment of mathematical principals. Attempts at creating perspective can be seen in early Western art, but it was originally based on personal observation. Filippo Brunelleschi was the first to employ scientific perspective to his paintings of 1413, where the receding angles of objects converge at a single vanishing point. The mathematician, Leone Battista Alberti would be the first to publish these principals in 1435. Scientific perspective revolutionized the art of the renaissance, and its concept continued to grow with the contributions of many others. It was developed as a way of imposing a sought after order onto the natural world rather than a true effort to determine how we see. This form of perspective is still used by some artists today though it has been in competition with non-Western paradigms since the mid-19th century.
Screen cylinders in which ink is held in tiny regular patterned cells etched into its surface was invented by Ernst Rolffs in 1908. It advanced rotogravure into the modern printing process we use today. It is created by double exposing a photosensitive gelatin tissue to a line screen and then the image before it is adhered to the cylinder. Afterwards both the pattern and the image are etched into its surface. The line screen pattern forms a continuous raised grid across the cylinder, while the image areas are incised within the space between these lines down to varying depths that can print a range of tones.
Screenless Offset Lithography
In the 1960’s a new method of offset printing was developed in which dots were created without the need for halftone line screens. The results very similar to the look of photo-chromolithographs that were manufactured at the beginning of the 20th century. This process begins by mechanically graining anodized aluminum litho-plates with both high and low random peaks to resemble the surface of a lithography stone. After being coated with a photosensitive polymer emulsion the plate is exposed to a transparency. In this case the random peaks that receive the most exposure to light will print white and the lesser exposed specs between them will accept ink. Tonal range is created through the differing peak heights. Since the dot array is completely irregular, four process colors can still be used to produce a full gamut without the risk of forming interference patterns. While screenless offset printing is still being used, the advancement in finer line screens and stochastic screens combined with advancing digital technology has prevented this extraordinary process from dominating the printing industry.
Screen Print (Silkscreen)
Samuel Simon received an English patent for stencil printing in 1907, but the process seems not to have been used until it came to America in 1916. Screen printing uses a stencil that is attached to porous screen made of silk (silkscreen), which has been tightly stretched and mounted on a wooden frame for support. Tension in the stretched fabric keeps it from touching the surface to be printed until a semi-fluid ink is pushed along the back of the stretched screen with a blade forcing it through to the other side and onto the flush printing surface. The stencil applied to the front of the screen causes the ink to print only where the stencil has been cut out, and the screen texture causes the ink to spread in a flat consistent manner producing even solid flat tones. Additional colors can be applied to the same print with a new stencil once it has dried, but the thick skin of ink that lays on the paper’s surface dries very slowly. A stencil’s ability to render details is limited as all components have to be large enough to attach to the mesh of the screen, while the mesh has to be open enough to prevent residual ink from clogging the screen it as it dries. Stencils can be made from almost any flat material ranging from hand cut paper, manufactured films, to photo sensitive emulsions. Painting glue or shellac directly onto the screen can also create stencils. The secret to this method lies in the diverse solvent base for all materials used, which must compliment each other. If the ink used is petroleum based, then the stencil must be water or lacquer based to avoid deterioration. If the ink is water based, then the stencil most only dissolve with lacquer or petroleum distillates.
Screen printing did not become a commercially viable process until a suitable rubber blade (squeegee) was developed for it in 1936. Even so with war looming the cost of silk began running high. It took the development of polyester, a cheap and durable substitute during the 1940’s for the technique to gain wider use. At this same time artists began using the screen printing process in increasing numbers because the method did not require access to an expensive press to produce prints. This new medium met with much resistance within artistic circles due to its close associations with cheap commercial printing. The term Serigraphy, coined in the United States, was applied to it as a way to distinguish its use in fine art printing from its commercial cousin. Pretensions have since been largely put aside and the process is now often referred to as silkscreen. There is no actual difference between the two and today both terms are often used interchangeably. Screen printing was used sparingly in postcard production, and it is largely found among those cards produced by small shops or individual artists.
Sculptogravure was an informal name for the process of reproducing the sculpted clay relief pieces of Italian artist Domenico Mastroianni in printed form. These were mostly produced as monochrome postcards though some color cards, which were usually referred to as sculptochromies were also made.
Self-toning is a characteristic of photo paper that contains an excess of metallic salts, which are released during the fixing stage of processing to alter the photographs color.
Seliochrom is a trade name used for the tinted halftone postcards produced by the Adolph Selige Publishing Company of St. Louis in the early 20th century.
After World War Two the Security Lithographic Company of San Francisco began using the Selithco trade name on their true color postcards and souvenir books. These images were color separated from Ektachrome film, and printed in offset lithography.
Seltona is a brand name for a self-toning printing out photo paper with a collodion based emulsion. Seltona paper was manufactured by Leto, a subsidiary if the Ilford Corporation. Discontinued during the Second World War, Seltona became the last collodion paper to be manufactured.
Sepia refers to the inky melanin secretions from cuttlefish that has a dark red-brown color, It has been used as a colorant in inks and paints since ancient times. As demand for this colorant grew, it was often imitated by using chimney soot. Sepia is not lightfast and has since been replaced by more stable synthetic dyes of similar hue.
Sepia Delft is a brand name for the high contrast monochrome postcards printed as collotypes by the Albertype Company of New York. These cards were sometimes printed in a bright blue as well as in sepia.
September Morn can refer to any image based on the painting Matinee de Septembre, created by the French artist Paul Chabas. This composition consisted of a 16 year old nude girl standing in shallow water with one hand touching her knee and the other hand holding her elbow but not quite covering her breasts. The painting was first exhibited at the 1912 Paris Salon and the following year it was sent to the New York art dealer Braun & Company. The painting was on display in their window when Anthony Comstock of the Society for the Suppression of Vice spotted it. Outraged, he demanded its removal, which a clerk promptly did but it was soon put back by the manager. Comstock’s inability to have it permanently removed from public display became national news, and September Morn quickly became an icon of popular culture that was place on all sorts of items from candy wrappers to cigar box labels and postcards. Despite its popularity it also created much controversy to the point of bringing the Mayor of Chicago to ban all displays of this image. Today the painting hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and postcard reproductions of it are still sold.
A postcard series refers to a limited number of cards issued by a single publisher that are related by theme. These could be large numbers of cards printed over months or even years, but they most often appeared as six to twelve cards issued in packaged sets so the series could not be broken up. This proved to be a good marketing ploy that increased sales. Many postcards will have the name of the series printed on their backs while others were just numbered with the publisherís code. Publishers would often use the same number for different cards but assign them to different series. This can be seen on many cards where the number is broken up or letters are added to it. Another use for a series was to confine identification numbers within a limited range. Many large publishers had agreements with one another not to print cards with identical numbers on them. This could be achieved with a general letter prefix or by repeating the same limited range of numbers again and again but with multiple prefixes. Many publishers also numbered cards in series as part of internal record keeping so they could better keep tract of their production and provide local oriented sales catalogs of their large inventory to their customers.
Serigraph is a name given to works of fine art made through screen printing. Its purpose is to imbue this work with a higher status than given to traditional commercial screen printing despite the fact that the technique is identical. Many artists refer to these prints as silkscreens.
Sextochrome is a trade name for a type of French made tinted collotype postcard distributed by the American News Company. Five lithographic tints were used in its production. Some of these colors are characterized by an extremely fine random grain while other hues were printed in opaque blocks.
See Manufactured Tints
Shadowgraph is a trade name for a type of novelty postcard that revealed a risqué image when held to light. They were published by ETW Dennis & Sons of London during the 1950’s.
A sheet refers to a piece of paper onto which an image can be printed. Except for small jobbing platens, most presses use moderate to large size sheets of paper. To print small objects like postcards a printing plate is usually created with a number of different images on it. This allows many cards to be printed in one single press run and then cut down afterwards. Paper sheets were both hand and machine made.
Sheet-fed refers to the method by which a printing press is fed single sheets of paper at a time from an attached rack, usually by a set of mechanical grippers. The print quality and registration that results from sheet-feeding is better than what can be obtained from web-fed presses, but it slows down the printing process making it less economical to use.
To save time and money large presses were eventually developed that could print on both sides of paper sheets simultaneously, but this could not satisfy all printing needs. Sheetwise refers to the practice of printing only on one side of a sheet of paper at a time, which was usually done when two different printing techniques were used that required two different types of presses. This was often done in postcards production where the typeface on the back was printed in letterset to be sharp as opposed to the softer image in lithography on the front.
A postage cancellation mark hand stamped onto correspondence by a Post Office aboard a ship is known as a ship cancel. Ships have carried United States mail ever since 1845, and between 1897 and 1937 mail arriving from overseas was canceled aboard ship. When ships stopped for inspection at quarantine stations before docking, this correspondence was transferred to small mail boats and carried off to a land based Post Office for additional processing. By an act of Congress of May 27th, 1908 the U.S. Navy was authorized to establish post offices aboard their vessels so seamen would always have a reliable method of sending mail home. A month later the battleship U.S.S. Illinois sailed out with the Great White Fleet with the first Naval Post Office aboard capable of canceling letters and postcards. These special cancels carry the name of the United States Ship they originated from on them. Most postcards with ship cancels are dated between 1908 and 1914.
Silhouette Cards (Shadows)
Finance Minister, Etienne de Silhouette created an amusement for the 18th century French court by cutting out portraits in profile from black paper. Meanwhile the masses of people hurt by his tax policies took to wearing black, protesting they could not even afford to wear color. Their mimicry became known as dressing a la Silhouette. Profiles in black are still referred to as silhouettes. Many early silhouettes were made by outlining a person’s shadow, then reducing it in size with the aid of a pantograph. They were just as often painted as cut out. Eventually silhouettes were exchanged as tokens of friendship, then as a customary first exchange between lovers. This art form, the poor man’s portrait, became very popular and paper cutting was often practiced by street hawkers until the 1840’s when photography came into fashion. Many such designs appear on postcards where the creative imagery spread far beyond portraiture. Some illustrators focused their entire creative output on this art form, which is still practiced.
From the 1760’s silhouettes were also used as a tool to demonstrate the principles of physiognomy. This pseudo-science developed by the Swiss theologian Johann Casper Lavater claimed that a persons essential character could be discerned by examining specific facial features that were pronounced on a silhouette. This practice was enhanced by the eventual growth of the Eugenics movement who used profiling to assert a person’s mental capacity and worth to society. It was a popular concept at the turn of the 20th century and no doubt influenced the manner in which certain postcards were drawn. Some cards explicitly use this to demonstrate so called racial characteristics.
Silk cards are a type of novelty postcard in which silk is utilized in the creation of an image. The most common method employed was to cut shapes out of color silk fabric and glue them to specific parts of a cardís surface. Other postcards had their entire image woven in silk on stiffened muslin and then attached to a paper backing. A common variation was to have a smaller woven or embroidered image sandwiched between card stock and an embossed decorative border. This process was developed by weavers searching for new outlets for their goods in a depressed textile market. There were also many other printed and real photo postcards that had only a portion of their image stitched with silk. All types of silk cards are considered novelties.
Silvercraft was a trade name used by the Dexter Press for their black & white halftone reproductions of photographs printed in line block during the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Silverette is a trade name used by Raphael Tuck & Sons for a lightly varnished black & white postcard. The glossy surface of these printed cards makes them look similar to photographs.
Sirie is a term sometimes found on the back of postcards printed in Germany. It can be in reference to the set (Bildersatz) the card belongs to or more often to the entire numbered group (Gruppe) the card is part of.
Sizing is any substance applied to paper during its manufacturing process intended to stiffen it and slow its absorbency rate. This helps to keep printing ink on the surface of the paper where it will achieve higher color density and appear brighter, and sharper. Sizing can be made from glue, gelatin, rosin, or starch. Alum is often added to make the sizing insoluble but it can also add to a paper’s acidity. Originally sizing was applied to the paper’s surface by hand or added to pulp while it was still in tubs. This coating eventually became just one more step in mechanized paper manufacturing. Paper without any sizing is known as waterleaf.
In the printing trades, the term skin refers to a sheet of gelatin that holds an image for printing when used with the collotype or heliotype processes. A way to harden the gelatin sheet into a leathery consistency with alum was eventually discovered so that the skin could be easily transferred from the fragile greyed glass plate it was made on to a more stable metal surface. This allowed for much longer press runs. These skins could also be removed from the metal plate and stored for later use. Skins were sometimes electroplated to give them an even longer life under the pressure of a printing press.
Skyscraper-Card is a trade name used by Ig. Neuburg of New York for their 2 1/2 by 6 inch novelty postcards depicting scenes of New York City in black & white halftones. These cards were manufactured in Germany prior to the First World War.
Sky-Tint is a trade name for a type of black & white halftone postcard printed by the Curt Teich Company where a light blue tint is added exclusively to the sky. While this did not create a more realistic image, it was hoped that the novelty of it might attract customers. Most of these cards were printed in the United States during the 1920’s.
A sleeve is a transparent plastic covering that slips over a postcard for protection. Sleeves can be hard or soft, and their archival qualities will differ depending on the type of plastic used.
A soft corner refers to the corner of a postcard that no longer retains the rigid qualities of the original card stock it was printed on and often displays cracking of the inked surface. The primary cause of soft corners is excessive handling and it is a common form of damage.
Letters or postcards that could be sent for free by military personnel during wartime are referred to as soldier’s mail. Military personnel only needed to write their name, rank, and unit on the back of a card and the words Free or Soldier’s Mail in place of a stamp. State commissions issued specially printed postcards to be used exclusively as soldier’s mail, often with preprinted lines to hold the required information. Some form of soldierís mail was used in the United States since the Civil War, and variations exist in other nations.
Sold Out Card
A sold out card is a postcard with a normal back but in place of a picture on front the words Sold Out is printed. They were placed at the back of postcard stacks to serve as a reminder to the retailer to call the jobber or distributor and reorder that specific card.
Solio is a brand name for a printing out silver chloride photo paper introduced by Kodak in 1892. Toning was usually applied to the paper after washing, leaving a brown to purplish color behind. This paper could also be tinted in a variety of colors. Solio was a slow paper requiring contact printing with exposure to sunlight. A heavier version of Solio with a preprinted postcard back was introduced in 1908. It was eventually replaced by Kodak’s studio proof paper in the 1920’s, but this too was discontinued in 1987 for the lack of quality gelatin suppliers.
A souvenir album is a type of memento made for tourists in which a series of printed views would be bound together in a small booklet. They became popular in the 1870’s and remained so up until the First World War. The earliest booklets were illustrated with hand drawn lithographs, some of which were made to resemble old engravings. With the introduction of cheap halftone photo reproduction in the 1890’s, souvenir albums largely adapted to this new technology to save on cost. They were superseded by postcard booklets and folders.
A souvenir card is one type of privately printed postcard made prior to the effective date, July 1, 1898, of the Private Mailing Card Act of May 19, 1898. An image or montage of a tourist attraction was usually placed on the front to be shared with a space for writing. Correspondence could only be placed on the front because the back was entirely reserved for the address and postage stamp. It required two cents to mail, which was double the rate of a government issued postal. The loose size requirements that these cards adhered to rendered many too large to be used in the United States when the private mailing card act took effect. To solve this problem some publishers trimmed their cards down to regulation size, which often resulted in the removal of their own name. Much care was placed into the design of these cards since they were marketed towards the emerging collector.
Special Colored, is a trade name for a type of French made tinted collotype postcard distributed by the American News Company. These cards are characterized by a crisp sharp image place over three tints.
The perceived range of specific wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum is referred to as spectral sensitivity. Different species have different classes of cone shaped light sensitive receptors in their eyes with primates having three classes of cones in their retinas. This allows them to perceive the red, green, and blue wavelengths of the light spectrum. While there continues to be scientific debate over how humans are able to perceive additional colors beyond these three, the theory of trichromatic vision developed by Thomas Young in 1802 dominated the thinking of the printing industry during the 19th century. This knowledge eventually allowed multi-colored chromolithographs to be scaled down to a more economical tricolor printing process, though the choice of palette had less to do with color theory than the availability of pigments for ink.
Spectrachrome is a trade name for an early photochrome process used to manufacture postcards published by Wesco. They are characterized by a soft dull finish.
Spirit-Graph is a trade name used by the P.J. Plant Company of Washington DC for a type of novelty postcard printed in brown with a red layer of ink obscuring a lighter green image. They were sold with a transparent red sheet of film that when placed over the card would make the red ink disappear and the green ink look darker to reveal a hidden image. These cards usually contained conflicting themes like a battle scene that could be transform into a pair of lovers kissing.
In subtractive color theory the proper proportions of CYM primaries should be able to produce all desired colors but this is far from true. They are very bad at mixing into bright oranges, violets, and a whole range of earthen browns. It is not possible to create fluorescent, iridescent, and metallic effects by mixing CMYK colors. To achieve any of these an additional qualities, a spot plate needs to be added to the printing process to hold this one color. While spot color was sometimes printed as a halftone and calculated into the proper line rotation, it was just as often printed as a solid shape. Spot plates were particularly used to add in an extra blue or red on linen postcards and gold on illustrated cards.
Squash (Ink Squash)
Squash refers to the buildup of ink along the edges of a printed area. It most often occurs in relief printing as the pressure from printing forces ink outwards till it spills over the cut edge, though there can be other causes. This is a subtle characteristic usually only discernible under magnification.
A squeaker is type of novelty postcard containing a device between two sandwiched layers of card stock that makes a squeaking sound when squeezed. A small hole is placed on the card’s back for the expulsion of air, which generates the sound. These cards were marketed toward children and often depict animals.
When the word Stampa is printed on the back of an Italian postcard, it gives official notice that the card was approved by government censors for distribution through the mail. The Press and Propaganda Bureau required this on cards soon after Italy entered World War One in 1915. The practice would be revived in 1924 under Mussolini’s son-in-law Galenzzo Ciane in order to help organize a culture of Fascism. In 1935 the practice of assigning press officers to publishers fell under the Ministry for Press and Propaganda. While this office closed with the collapse of the Fascist state, Italy still retains a high level of censorship.
In 1878 the member countries of the Universal Postal Union agreed that the postals mailed between them should be set at a standard size of 3 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches to be eligible for the postal mailing rate. The same standard size is still in use.
The stannotype process is a variation of the woodburytype. It begins the same way by exposing a sheet of gelatin tissue to a negative, but the results were not pressed into a lead plate. Either a rubber cast would be made of the shallow gelatin relief into which tinfoil would be pressed or tinfoil itself would be pressed directly into the gelatin. The tinfoil, now transformed into an identical relief would then be electroplated and mounted on resin to give it extra strength before it is used to cast a finished print in pigmented gelatin.
Steeldrucktone is a trade name for a type of deep brown postcard distributed by the American News Company that were printed as collotypes with a darker gravure overprint on textured paper.
Iron had been used for etching and engraving since its inception, but its hardness and susceptibility to corrosion kept it out of general use in favor of copper. In 1797 Jacob Perkins patented a method of softening steel for engraving upon it with hardened steel tools, and then casehardening the plate afterwards for printing. Because of its durability steel engraving became a competitive printing medium until the method of electroplating copper with steel was invented. Engravings on steel are still primarily used for the printing of stamps, money, and certificates where high press runs are needed. The deep relief of this surface allows steel engraved plates to be wiped completely clean without fear of removing too much ink. This not only speeds up printing but creates identical sharp crisp images that are more difficult to forge as no plate tone residue is left behind to create unique impressions. Though used to reproduce numerous images this process was not well liked among illustrators because of the clean sterile look that it produced.
Steeplechasing refers to the running of jump racing horses, a long English tradition that grew ever more popular over the 19th century. In 1875 this informal activity received its first closed course, an important step in the establishment of rules and equestrian promotion. With Americanís love of horses, it did not take long for steeplechasing to become popular in the United States. Most postcards depicting horses in the U.S. were usually relegated to Western themes, and those cards depicting steeplechasing are mostly English in origin. Many of these cards are artist drawn because of the difficulty of capturing horses in action when film was slow.
When George C. Tilyou opened an amusement park at Brooklyn’s Coney Island in 1897, his first major attraction was a ride of mechanical horses. This ride naturally became known as the Steeplechase, and the amusement area was named Steeplechase Park. As other such rides opened around the world they also assumed the Steeplechase name.
Steindruck is a term found on German postcards meaning they were printed in lithography.
A major problem with early rotary presses was in the dangerous way that type was clamped into curved frames. A solution was found by making a mold of the type while arranged in its form with papier mâché. This flexible paper mold (flong) could then be bent to the same curved shape as the press cylinder and a two-piece lead casting made from it. The two halves of this curved plate could now be tightly fitted over the roller and bolted together. Many claimed responsibility for this innovation but David Bruce might have been the first to use this method back in 1812. By 1851 stereotypes were being manufactured by machine to meet growing demand. Stereotyping not only provided an efficient and safe method of adhering type to a cylinder, it was a way to add on pictures as well. More than one copy of a stereotype could be made, which meant that multiple presses could be employed in printing the same image for large runs.
Stereoscopy is a technique of capturing a 3-dimensional view by placing two photo images next to each other on a card (stereoviews), usually 3 1/2 by 7 inches, each taken at a slightly different perspective. When the 2-dimensional cards are viewed at the proper distance, each eye will perceive only one individual image and create the illusion of three dimensions. Special devices to hold the stereoviews close to the face were often used but were not a necessity. Stereoviews became very popular after their invention by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838, and the production of viewers reach their peak between 1903 and 1905. In stiff competition with postcards, many companies failed and by the 1924 only one firm was still producing them in quantity. The last stereoviews were made in the 1950’s. These companies amassed large inventories of photographs that some also used to publishing postcards while other firms sold all their photos to postcard publishers as demand for their product dwindled.
A Stevengraph is an image manufactured from woven silk by Thomas Stevens of Coventry, England. The first Stevengraphs were bookmarks produced in 1876, followed by pictures in 1879, portraits in 1886, and then postcards in 1904. Production ceased after a German air raid destroyed his factory and all inventory in 1940. Other weavers copied this process.
A retoucher who copied a drawing onto a litho-stone in small dots with crayon or pen was sometimes referred to as a stipple artist. Lithographs printed in color needed to be drawn on multiple substrates, and multiple retouchers were used to speed up the process. By drawing in dots, the style of many different hands did not clash on the final printed image. This was very common on postcards printed in chromolithography, but the practice carried over onto tinted hybrid cards.
A stock card is a generic postcard with blank space left on it for future printing. The addition of text could often be accomplished with a small jobbing platen or simple hand press, which did not require a large press run. This allowed some small retailers to print up limited orders for postcards on request or add local place names when there were not enough customers to warrant printing a full order of view-cards. This tradition began with trade card where advertising was added to attractive generic images.
When all or a portion of a postcards title is printed over to render it unreadable, it is called a strikethrough. Sometimes additional text is then printed in its place. The striking of words can be done to correct a previous mistake in printing or to denote a change of place name allowing continued use of the card. Sometimes place names are intentionally changed so the same view may misrepresent additional locations and increase sales. Strikes could be made either by the original printer or by the retailer with a small hand press.
Though often associated with Art Deco, Streamline Moderne design was a style that came into its own right in the 1930’s. It derives from the scientific principal that curves of certain proportions will provide the least resistance to currents of air or water. Though conceivably useful on cars, trains and planes, streamlining was also placed on radios, refrigerators, and other household items for its artistic qualities. More than a science it came to represent faith in a better future through the progress of science. Its diversified use on so many products was a reflection of increasing modernist attitudes. While this style had little direct influence on the graphic design of postcards, many linen cards display examples of this style within their imagery.
Stuffing is the practice of shortchanging retailers of the postcards they had ordered and replacing the difference with less preferable cards to reduce poor selling inventory. This was a common habit among jobbers.
Style Moderne is one of the original terms used to describe the design style that is now known as Art Deco. The term Art Deco was not used until the 1960’s after Style Moderne was already out of fashion.
Subtractive Color (Subtractive Primaries)
Subtractive color refers to the theory by which the creation of any color can be made by subtracting varying proportions of one or more of the primary subtractive colors, cyan, magenta, or yellow, (CMY) from white light. This is the principle that governs the mixing of all colorants and is used in offset printing. We see color because different objects absorb and reflect the visual spectrum differently. The primary subtractive colors act like filters that absorb their complementary colors of red, green, and blue which compose white light. An object that absorbs (subtracts) one complementary color reflects back the combination of the other two. The amount of cyan used in printing will proportionally determine the amount of red seen for if all red light is subtracted from white light the remaining green and blue light reflected back to the eye will combine to form cyan. In other words an ink that subtracts red will appear as cyan. Likewise magenta absorbs green, reflecting blue and red, which combine to form magenta. Yellow absorbs blue, reflecting green and red, which combined to form yellow. An object that absorbs two complementary colors will reflect the single remaining complementary, red or green or blue back unchanged. When all three complementary colors are combined all primaries are absorbed resulting in black. And if no colors were absorbed they would reflect back as white light.
A substrate is a generic term for the base material from which an image will be printed. It can consist of wood, metal, rubber, or stone, depending on the technique employed. The term substrate can sometimes be used synonymously with the term plate.
A swastika can be one of many related designs based on a sun mandala that represents wholeness. It is an ancient symbol used around the world, especially in the Hindu and Native American cultures. It can sometimes be seen decorating pots or blankets on postcards depicting these cultures, but it found its way onto many early cards simply as a symbol of good luck. The swastika in these depictions may face either left or right. At the same time this symbol was also beginning to be associated with Aryan identity. Some publishers placed swastikas on the back of their cards as part of their logo but it is unclear whether they used it as a lucky symbol or to show pride in their German ancestry. It was adopted as an official symbol of Germany’s Nazi Party in 1920, which has led many today to only associate the swastika with Nazism forgetting its deeper cultural meaning. The Nazis used the swastika liberally as decorative graphic elements on many German postcards.