Wavy refers to a specific type of water damage on a postcard where it can no longer lie flat. When paper absorbs water, its organic components swell. If left to dry without any tension applied, moisture will evaporate from the paper’s irregular fibers 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, typically used for the printing of large volume items. In 1798 the Frenchman Louis Robert invented the first machine to produce continuous webs of paper. Since his work was sponsored by the wealthy Fourdrinier family, 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. Since the rotary cylinder is in constant motion, printing can be done at high speeds. While this process cannot produce the same quality of printing as that of sheet-fed presses, it is very economical for high volume newspaper printing or other large press runs.
Wet Spots (Spotting)
A wet spot is a form of damage that can be found on the image of a hand colored postcard. 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 while traveling through the mail or even when being sold. 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 bleached spot of color is left behind, surrounded by a dark ring. If a wet spot is rubbed while the colorant is in a fluid state, a smudge will result.
White Border Card
A White Border Card is a designation used by collectors for a type of tinted halftone postcard published in the United States between the approximate dates of 1913 and 1939. Although postcards have been printed with white borders surrounding their image since their inception, their numbers began to increase dramatically once the British naval blockade of Germany ended the flow of imports to America during the First World War. One explanation is that cards with borders did not have to be carefully trimmed so our less skilled workforce was more readily able to put them into production. It is also commonly stated that they were cheaper to produce because they used less ink. While this is a more dubious explanation, severe shortages in ink may have played a role during and immediately after the War. Since white borders were used by many of the major printers that dominated the American market at this time, and they used the same printing technique, a somewhat distinctive style was created if only by their sheer numbers. This definition and its application however are highly problematic as they are only a product of convenience. Many cards of this era were not printed with white borders, and many other contemporary cards with white borders such as Detroit Phostints and some linens are not considered white border cards. The term remains allusive as it is difficult to pin down its parameters.
Wiener Werkstätte-Stil was an artistís 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. Since many artists of different temperament worked here, their output was 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. While highly prized today, the coop largely saw these cards as practice for poster design.
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 postcard era.
A Woodburytype is a printed image nearly identical to that of a photograph in appearance created through a process patented by Walter Bentley Woodbury in 1864. The method bypasses the chemistry of processing silver nitrates by photosensitizing carbon tissue 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 it as if it were a mold. A sheet of paper is then placed on top while still wet and pressure is applied. As the solution cools the image is transferred onto the paper to which it binds. Even though the gelatin will shrink as it dries, the finished image still needs to be trimmed off at the edges to rid itself of excess gelatin. Since woodbutytypes 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. Photo collage was a popular 19th century pastime where images taken from many photo sources were cut up and pasted into scrapbooks together with drawings and other printed material. This collage tradition was carried over to early postcards, especially of the handmade variety where pieces of early tintypes, albumen prints, and woodburytypes might sometimes be found.
Wood engraving is a relief printing method in which the polished end grains of carefully seasoned hardwood are incised to create an image. Boxwood, so dense that it is the only wood that will not float in water, is the preferred substrate. Other types of hardwoods such as cherry are sometimes employed but its surface is more susceptible to crumbling. The hardness of these blocks, and their lack of directional grain allowed engravers to reproduce pictures with much finer details than those cut from planks of wood They still only produced solid tones, but subtle gradations could be created optically thanks to the finer lines. Specially crafted gravers are used to push wood out of the block in a precise manner more reminiscent of metal engraving with burins than the knife cutting of woodblocks. Only here in wood engraving, it is the surface areas that will be inked and print while those lines incised by the burin will become the dead zone and remain the color of the paper. Some tinting tools were even developed so that multiple parallel lines could be cut at one stroke when putting in grey tones. This also sped up production of this tedious process. Since 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.
World Post Day
World Post Day, celebrated each year on 9 October, was created in 1969 by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) to commemorate their founding in 1874, and to promote postal related issues. The day is often used to introduce new postal products or services.
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 when tabs were eliminated after the introduction of the divided back postcard. Similar cards printed the first three digits of the year.
A writing tab is the unprinted area on the front of a postcard, border excluded, that was 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 these tabs were not large enough and messages spilled onto the image. Tabs were usually geometric and appeared at the bottom of a card but they could also be placed on the side or in a corner depending on what best suited the composition. Some designers used tabs very creatively. After the divided postcard came into use and writing could now be place on a card’s back, writing tabs became obsolete. While most publishers now covered the entire front with an image, some continued to use tabs for a few more years though pointless from a practical standpoint.