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This page contains both original essays and comments on postcards as well as articles formally published in Metro News, the bi-monthly bulletin of the Metropolitan Postcard Club while I served as editor. Many of these reprinted articles have been enhanced on this website by adding additional content.


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To keep the blog page a reasonable length the articles found within will be archived approximately every six months. To access this content click the links on the left side of this page.

WARNING: Some of the content to be found in this section, including the archives deals with topics of a violent or sexual nature in both pictures and text, and is meant for a mature audience. If you feel you may be offended by such content you should leave this page now.


September 18, 2015

A Postcard Journey
By Leonard Lauder

Most people are aware of Leonard Lauder as a successful businessman, a collector of fine art and postcards, an author and a philanthropist. Few are aware that he is currently the oldest living member of the Metropolitan Postcard Club having been active in the Club since he was a teenager. When asked about this his response was as follows: “You’re quite right. I think I am the longest living member of the Club and hope to continue to be the longest living member of the Club. So, here’s my story.”

Leonard Lauder

photo by Roberto Portillo

I have been a collector of picture post- cards since childhood. Between 1938 and 1944, I lived in Miami Beach and became fascinated with the incredible art deco hotels and the way the artists interpreted them on the postcards. Ad- joining buildings seemed to disappear, leaving only open space; the beach was always in sight; the colors of the lines were so vibrant that each card was my own version of a Van Gogh. I would stroll along Collins Avenue at the age of seven and walk into each hotel. Standing on my tiptoes, I would reach over the desk and ask for or pick up a handful of postcards. They were my treasures.


The Cadillac Hotel, Miami Beach, FL, 1940’s

I also went to a school where instead of collecting and trading baseball cards, we did the same thing with Miami Beach hotels. It was fun and cost nothing. As time went on, my parents would send me postcards from their travels, especially from their trips abroad.

Sometime in 1946, at the age of 13, I wandered into the office of a stamp dealer who was located on the fifth floor of an old building on West 42nd Street in New York City. I was on a search for postcards that stamp dealers had no use for. (The very fact that my parents had no problem in letting me wander around the city at age 13 never ceases to amaze me). I bought a number of German Gruss aus postcards for one penny each. There was a man named Walter Czubay who was looking through the same box that I was. He took pity on me and started to explain what to look for when going through a large box of postcards. I was a good and quick student, and I loved to learn.

Real Photo Postcard

Czar Nicholas II and his family in a rowboat, before 1917

Walter was the one who invited me to come out to Brooklyn to attend one of the early meetings of his Metropolitan Postcard Club. They were held in the home of one of the members, Edith Towey. I met several other members who did all they could to teach me what they knew. I came to know Ben Shiffrin, who collected old exposition cards; Ben Papell, who collected Detroit Publishing Company postcards; and Ed Rohrlack, who collected all cards published by Raphael Tuck. There were no dealers there because dealers didn’t even exist yet. No money changed hands. Everything was by exchange. Since I was the youngest person there, they sometimes forgave me if I wasn’t able to give them a proper exchange. The best gift I ever received was from our hostess, Edith, who gave me a mint Detroit of the Japanese cherry blossoms in Washington. I loved it. I loved the colors, the composition, etc. To put it mildly, I was hooked.


Two men and a woman, about 1900

Collecting postcards in the 1940’s and 1950’s was quite a bit different than it is today. There were of course fads, some of which I embraced. I became a passionate collector of Union Oil cards, which were full-color cards that were distributed free at the Union gas stations whenever you got a full tank of gas. They were beautiful, and I vowed to collect every one I could. As I mentioned before, I collected Detroits and Tuck Oilettes. I had no interest in what seemed to be everyone’s passion: lighthouses, cats, etc.

Real Photo Postcard

Ora Anderson. Horseshoer. Billings, MO, about 1910

The most fascinating collector was the Metropolitan’s founder, Joe Nardone, who collected Real Photos of main streets in the United States. Although they were cheap at that time, only costing pennies, to find one good Real Photo postcard of a main street meant plowing through thousands of cards in antique shops.

Finding, buying, and collecting post- cards during those early years of the Metropolitan Club was one of the best periods of my life. Since there were no dealers, one had to dig up cards from stamp dealers, used-book shops, antique shops, attics, heirs, etc. etc. It had the excitement of being a nonstop treasure hunt.


Boulogne-sur-Mer. Publicité locale hors concours
(Local advertising without competition), about 1905

On my first business trip to Europe, I stumbled on the postcard collecting pastime in England and France. There were shops there devoted to old postcards. In London there were open air markets, such as Camden Passage and Portobello Road, where postcards abounded. Prices were negligible and the hunt exhilarating.

Real Photo Postcard

An actual photo of the Hindenburg disaster Lakehurst, N.J., May 6th, 1937

Since I was a European and American history buff, I managed to discover in some of these antique malls Real Photo postcards of historical events that seemed to escape the dealers’ notice.

Real Photo Postcard

Der Bombenwerfer Cðabrinović (The bomb-thrower Cðabrinović), 1914

Imagine the discovery of the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914; the Hindenburg disaster in Lakehurst, NJ, in 1937; the entry of Adolf Hitler into Vienna in 1938, all of which wound up on postcards. Here again, although there were no official dealers at that point, these cards came from the early dealers in ephemera. To be able to find a rare card that only I seemed to know the value of was a thrill.


Der Einzug des Führer in Wien (The Führer’s arrival in Vienna), postmarked April 1938

I left the hobby for a number of years when I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was sent to sea. This was followed by my marriage and children. When I reengaged with the hobby, it had changed. Postcard clubs were no longer swap meets, but everyone had things for sale. Still, it was just as much fun, as we were still pioneers. And I still had plenty to learn. There was hardly a meeting of the Metropolitan Club when someone didn’t teach me something new. The Club was the foundation of my postcard passion and has never disappointed.


Advertising card for the Mele department store, about 1900

I’ve recently donated most of my post- cards to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and to the Curt Teich Postcard Archives of the Lake County Discovery Museum, in Wauconda, IL, near Chicago. Both of these places are dedicated to the preservation of the gifts. A word of advice: Don’t simply give your collection away to the local public library. They soon forget who gave it to them and the next generation of librarians will clean house. Make sure that you donate your collection to a person or place that is dedicated to preserving the collection.

The amazing thing about postcard collecting is that it’s never over. There are always new categories to discover, new cards to fill in the gaps, new friends, and new horizons.

August 30, 2015

The F Word on Postcards
By Stephan Likosky

As a teenager collecting postcards, it was quite a surprise when I first saw the caption “Hunting for Faggots” on an English postcard. What the heck is this all about? I knew homosexuality was criminalized both in England and the United States, but were they actually hunting down gays in the British Isles?

The picture showed a rural couple with armfuls of twigs wandering along a path in the forest. Of course, it didn’t take much research to learn that the word faggot in England referred to small branches or twigs which could be used, say, to heat a country cottage. I also learned at the same time that fag meant cigarette in British English.


Since then I’ve run across many postcards where the double meaning of fag and faggot can’t help but produce a twitter - like seeing the word gay on a pre 1930’s card where the word means happy. To wit, a card showing three British soldiers huddling together and captioned: Before battle, in battle and after battle, our “Tommies” are ready for a “fag” now takes on a lighter tone, suggesting that a little recreational sex with a gay guy might be just the thing straight male soldiers could use in combating battle fatigue.

Postcard Back


And, talking of fatigue, (or being fagged out), how about the card depicting a guy curling up in the moonlight with a gal on his lap? A doctor’s prescription form above reads: “Mr. . . Is suffering from Brain Fag. I therefore order him an entire change, new scenes, new faces and . . .” The wording leads down toward the above mentioned moonlit scene. Is this a reference to aversion therapy on the early postcard? You remember, where gays were provided with heterosexual sensory stimulation as a doctor’s cure for you know what.

Interestingly, the word faggot is said to derive from the kindling wood used in the Dark Ages to burn alive witches (uppity women who didn’t know their rightful place in society). Along with the wood, homosexual men (or sodomites) were supposedly added to the mix to start the flames. Thus, faggot came to mean homosexual. In recent times, the word has been reclaimed, as has queer, by the LGBT community and used proudly to self-identify. The idea was to deprive the word of its derogatory meaning; thus the name for a pioneering gay newspaper in the 1970’s from Boston called Fag Rag.


And lastly, a modern postcard (1978) copyrighted by Daniel Nicoletta, showing two outrageous queens, one of whom is wearing an orange top reading “Faggots are Fantastic.” And he surely isn’t referring to twigs! Ahh, the vagaries of the English language as it crosses the Big Pond.

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