Wavy refers to the type of water damage on a postcard where it can no longer lie flat. Because of paper’s organic properties, it can absorb water and expands when wet. If left to dry without tension applied, the paper’s irregular fibers will loose moisture at different rates and shrink unevenly leaving a wavy surface behind.
A web is a machine made paper manufactured in the form of a roll for the printing of large volume items. In 1798 the Frenchman Louis Robert invented the first machine to produce continuous webs of paper. His work was sponsored by the wealthy Fourdrinier family and from this papermaking machines are often referred to as a Fourdrinier. Robert’s machine was later perfected by the Englishman Thomas Bonser Crompton in 1820 when he added a drying mechanism to it. This improvement totally mechanized the process making it commercially viable.
Web-fed refers to the method by which a cylinder or rotary press (web press) is fed paper in a continuous manner from a large paper roll. Presses fed by webs can often print on both sides of a paper roll simultaneously at high speeds. While they cannot produce the same quality of printing as that of sheet-fed presses, they are very economical for high volume newspaper printing or other large press runs.
Wet Spots (Spotting)
Wet spots are a type of damage suffered by hand colored postcards when exposed to water. Watercolor was the predominant method of hand coloring postcards because of its ease of use, low price, and drying time, but this type of coloring always remains water-soluble. This colorant was unfortunately a very poor choice for an object that was so greatly handled and often exposed to outdoor elements. If a single drop of water reaches the surface of such a card, the colorant will dissolve and move toward the droplet’s edge. After the water evaporates a light spot bleached of color with a dark ring around it is left behind. If a wet spot is rubbed while the colorant is dissolving a dark smudge will result.
White Border Card
A White Border Card is a type of postcard with a white border issued by specific publishers approximately between 1913 and 1939. In 1913 when the importation of German cards began to become difficult, then impossible, American companies tried to take up the slack. Because cards with borders did not have to be carefully trimmed as required by those cards with bleeds, our less skilled workforce could be more easily employed to make them. They were also cheaper to produce because they used less ink and paper, a consideration in years of growing scarcity. High numbers of these cards were produced from WWI through the 1920’s. The depression of the 1930’s kept this cost saving trend in use. Because white borders were used by a number of major printers in a field of diminishing competition their numbers became so noticeable that the postcards made during these years are now sometimes referred to as white border cards, denoting a period as well as physical appearance. It is an unfortunate designation made by later historians for the definition remains allusive, as not all cards with white borders are considered white border cards since they have been in production since the inception of postcards.
Wiener Werkstätte-Stil was an artists cooperative founded by Joseph Hoffmann and Kolman Moser in Vienna in 1903. It was heavily influenced by the English Arts & Crafts Movement and had close ties to the Vienna Sezession and the Art Nouveau Movement. Their philosophy geared them toward the production of art for the masses, while in actuality most of their products were high priced and only found their way into the hands of the wealthy. They are best known for their innovative, pre-cubist, style that often utilized beautiful hard geometries. Because of the many artists who worked here their products were not consistent but only related through style. This style was used on a wide range of objects, and had much influence on Art Deco and the Bauhaus during the 1920’s and 30’s, and in later years on Scandinavian and Italian design. As their work grew more organic over the years its popularity lessened in the face of newer geometric styles. Before it closed in 1932, the cooperative produced a vast array of finely crafted objects including more than a thousand postcards by many of their artists. Their cards were all numbered but not all of the names of the artists who designed them were recorded.
Will Call Cards
A will call card is a type of business postcard mailed from a company to potential clients stating that a salesman will soon be calling on them. Originally these cards just contained text but they were eventually endowed with illustrations. Will call cards were mostly used during the pioneer era.
In 1864 Walter Bentley Woodbury patented an early method of creating a printed image almost identical to that of a photograph. It was an attempt to solve the problem of fading while bypassing the chemistry of processing silver nitrates. The method is based on carbon photography only here it is carbon tissue photosensitized with a dichromate that is exposed to a negative. The areas exposed to light harden in proportion to their exposure, and when the remaining gelatin is washed out, a very shallow relief is left behind. This hardened relief is then pushed into a sheet of soft lead with a hydraulic press under great pressure. The result is an intaglio printing plate but instead of inking it a solution of warm pigmented gelatin is poured into this mold and paper is then applied on top with added pressure. As the solution cools the image is transferred onto the paper to which it binds. Even though the gelatin will shrink as it dries it still needs to be trimmed at the edges to rid itself of excess gelatin. As these prints consist of a carbon gelatin cast and not ink they are nearly identical in appearance to carbon photographs. The delicate plate used to make woodburytypes could only yield about 100 prints. It was a very complex and expensive reproductive method and woodburytypes were usually only used in high quality books as tip-ins though they do appear on cabinet cards. Its use ended around 1900 as other methods more adaptable to commercial printing were developed. While this process was generally too expensive to be used in the production of postcards it was later combined with lithographic techniques that were more commercially successful, such as photochromie.
Wood engraving is a relief printing method in which the polished end grains of hardwoods are engraved to create an image. Specially crafted burins are used to gouge wood out of its block in a manner more reminiscent of metal engraving than of woodcut. Only here it is the surface areas that will print while the incised lines remain white. Because of the hardness of the block, and its lack of directional grain, wood engraving could reproduce pictures with very fine details, but only in solid tones. All gradations were created optically, usually by engraving a series of parallel lines. Because these wood blocks could be surfaced rolled and were durable, it allowed them to be used in the letterpress process. When used together the process is known as xylogrophy.
A write-away card is a postcard in which the beginning of a written message is pre-printed on the card’s writing tab. These types of cards largely disappeared with their tabs after the introduction of the divided back postcard.
A writing tab is the unprinted area on the front of a postcard, borders excluded, that were left purposely blank for the purpose of providing space for a written message. Prior to March of 1907 no writing except for the address was allowed on the back of postcards making tabs a necessity once the picture postcard was introduced. Often they were not large enough and messages spilled over to the image. Tabs usually appeared at the bottom of a card but they could also be placed on the side, in a corner, or a multiple of places depending on what best suited the composition. After the divided postcard came into use and writing could now be place on a card’s back, writing tabs became obsolete. Some publishers however continued to use tabs for a few more years though pointless from a practical standpoint.