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F - Topicals
Faggot Collecting - Throughout the world the collecting of faggots for kindling and cooking has been a traditional occupation of women and girls. In many places this is still an everyday chore. This activity of gathering and hauling has been the inspiration for many works of art and has naturally translated into postcard form. A number of postcards can be found reproducing famous and not so famous paintings as well as containing original illustrations made just for cards.
Fairs - A great American tradition is the county fair where farm products would be displayed and competitions held. It was not unusual to have some sort of hourse racing events tied to them for these fairs were often held on the wide open grounds of race tracks. These annual fairs were often the most anticipated event of the year for many communities. Most postcard depictions of these fairs concentrate on the amusements that accompanied them.
Fairy - The belief in fairies exists in many numerous cultures but the details of their origin and type of being they constitute differ widely. Though fairies have been depicted as larger than life angels to troll-like in appearance, they were most often shown as small winged females by the Victorian age. They were very popular elements of illustration in those years and the tradition continued on as the first postcards were produced. In 1917 five photographs emerged depicting two young girls in the company of fairies (Cottingley Fairies). The controversy as to their authenticity created a revival in fairy imagery.
Fairy-tale - Many famous and unknown illustrators created fairy-tale imagery for postcards. While some are simplistic others are of complex and high quality design. Some cards portray scenes from specific literary works but many illustrations seem to have been created for postcards alone.
Famous People - With the exception of highly recognized national figures, most postcards depicting famous people were issued in sets. The actual impetus for many of these cards may have come out of the search for subject matter suitable for sets rather than any public demand for portaiture. While many cards depicting the famous, such as actors or Presidents, may have their own category, there were always cards issued of personalities that do not fit in anywhere else.
Folding Fans - While hand fans are known to have been used in all ancient civilizations, it is the Japanese who invented the folding fan in the 8th century. These fans started entering Europe in the 17th century and soon became common there and in the Americas during the 18th century with the expansion of the China trade. After the opening of Japan in the mid-19th century a great appetite developed for things Japanese. This fascination was still strong as postcards were first being published and the folding fan became a commonly seen accessory in cards depicting women. The folding fan has become such a strong recognizable image that it is often used in the West as a symbol for Japan.
Fantasy - Many cards were produced of scenes containing elves, fairies, and other strange creatures or improbable events. These images tend not to be taken from stories but created just for the amusement of the card collector. Many of these cards were highly creative and continue to have much appeal. Sometimes fantasy themes were employed in greeting cards.
Farming - At the turn of the 20th century 60 percent of America’s population still lived in rural settings, but most postcards concentrated their imagery on urban environments where the concentration of consumers could provide the most sales. As city people increasingly ventured out into the countryside more rural images began being produced. It is tourists who largely purchased farming postcards rather than the residents of the communities this activity took place in.
Fashion - Many postcards have been made depicting women in a variety of dress. But while the focus of most of these cards are on the women, there are those that highlight what they are wearing. Many artist signed cards were created to show fashion statements of the past as well as creative designs. Contemporary fashion was often depicted on real photo postcards. These cards not only expressed what was popular but what was socially permissible. Fashion also provided a subject for many satirical illustrations. These cards as a whole do a good job in capturing the changes in public taste.
Faux - Illusion is an important element in art and has been used by painters for centuries not just to represent what they see but sometimes in a very conscious attempt to fool even a discerning eye. As printing techniques improved this tradition was carried over to create the illusion of non paper surfaces, such as wood or stone for various prints and postcards. Sometimes this technique was used for little more than showing off the talents of the printing house, but at other times these false patterns were used hand in hand with the subject for greater effect.
Fencing - The sword is a weapon with a particular romance for it was one of the few designed without any utilitarian purpose other than to kill people. The skills needed for good swordsmanship are great, which inevitably brought it into the realm of competitive sports. Postcards however seem to concentrate on one particular form known as mensur. It was in wide practice by student fraternities of all Germanic nations when postcards became popular. This practice was meant to develop character, and the dueler usually wore little facial protection other than for the eyes to prove their bravery. Postcards often show the bloody results of these competitions as dueling scars were considered a badge of courage.
Ferris Wheel - The world’s first Ferris wheel appeared at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It was designed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. as an engineering feat to rival the Eiffel Tower. Other great wheels were built during the 19th century in Vienna, London, and Paris. By the 20th century Ferris wheels were not only a common sight at expositions, but smaller versions began to appear at amusement parks and state fair grounds. With their popularity came their ever increasing appearance on postcards. A Ferris wheel always adds value to a card it is depicted on.
Ferry - In an age before most great rivers had bridges spanning them, ferries were a very common sight. Many cards were produced depicting ferryboats making their scheduled rounds. The most intriguing postcards depict a single car on a simple raft-like boats used in more isolated rural areas. Almost all ferry lines both large and small have since disappeared.
Filmmaking - While a tremendous amount of postcards portraits were created of movie stars the actual depiction of movies being made are quite rare. The earliest of films coincide with the birth of postcards but these were mostly novelties or shown in the peep show format. It was only after 1908 when the Motion Picture Patents Company consolidated many competing technologies that the moving picture industry began to take off and became a serious subject for postcards. There are many untitled real photo postcards of costumed people that may have been shot during the outdoor filming of early movies.
Fire Fighting - While some of these cards depict specific events, many more are generic in nature. Many scenes of fire fighters in action are taken from public displays. Many depictions of fire fighters are volunteer companies for even large cities like New York that created a unified Fire Department upon consolidation in 1898 did not phase out all of its volunteers until 1937. Cards of fire fighting equipment and firehouses can fall within this category.
Fireworks - The earliest known use of fireworks is in 12th century China. By the time postcards were being published fireworks were already being used around the world to help celebrate festivals, holidays and other important events. But as large amusement areas were developed fireworks began to also be used as entertainment in hopes of attracting larger paying crowds. Exposure time for film was still slow at the beginning of the 20th century and it was nearly impossible to capture fireworks at night. Old postcards that display fireworks are usually the result of heavy retouching by artists of daylight scenes. Images of actual fireworks are now a popular subject on modern photochromes.
First Day Issues - It has been a long postal tradition of marking stamps placed on illustrated covers with a special one day pictorial cancel (cachet) to celebrate the first date of issue for a postage stamp. First day covers have drawn the interest of philatelists for years but there are also first day postcards that should be of interest to deltiologists. The images on these cards were usually not produced for first day ceremonies but matched up by private individuals and are much rarer than official covers.
Fishing - The act of fishing can take on various forms making this topic a difficult one to classify, But wheter it be scenes of fly fishermen in streams, ice fishing from shacks, or commercial fishing boats at sea, they are all captued on postcards. Most of these cards are usually just classified as views when the location is specified or in some cases under boats. While depictions of fish can sometimes find their way in here they should be considered a category of their own.
Flags - Though not ordinarily considered a genre for collecting, flags are depicted in many different ways on postcards. They are most often found under patriotic themes involving holidays, politics, or war. They can also be presented as outstanding features of view-cards, esspecially when seen in great number to celebrate an event. Postcards that specifically focused on flags are most often found in sets.
Floods - Of the many natural disasters that can strike a nation, few are as common as floods. There visual impact coupled with long periods of high water can provided photographers with good opportunities to make a visual record. In the days before massive levees and other engineering projects were built flooding was more commonplace and images of them could often be found on postcards. A notable exception is the great Mississippi flood of 1927, the largest disaster in the United States that produced few cards. Despite all efforts to gain supremacy over nature, major flooding sill occurs frequently but its images have now passed from postcards to other types of news media.
Flowers - Although flowers have been a common subject matter for the arts, their appearance on postcards appear to be seen far less but this may only be an illusion. The flower imagery that most often shows up on greeting cards and was often issued in sets were considered best sellers in the early 20th century. The most common flowers to be found on cards are those that are associated with women’s names or that have symbolism tied to them. Flowers were presented in many ways from being combined with decorative graphics to shown in their natural settings. They were often illustrated with more care and by better artists than there later day counterparts.
Foil Stamping - These cards have a thin sheet of metal foil adhered to all or parts of their surface. Various types of metal foil were used including those with colored pigment added. Foil stamping was primarily used on postcards manufactured in Germany by three different methods. Some postcards had broad swaths of foil stamped on to them and were then printed over, usually in black & white lithography. Another method was to add foil only to particular details of a card that had already been printed. A third method applied the foil so it sat at the bottom of embossed lines.
Fortunes - These types of cards took on many forms. They could range from simply listing the traits of a zodiac sign to showing events in one�s future. While some of these cards were elaborately printed in many colors and fancy graphics, others were crudely made in black & white. Those cards more predictive in nature were often made as arcade cards.
Fortune Telling - A special deck of cards known as the Tarot have loon been used for the telling of fortunes. There is much debate to the age of this deck but we do know it was in use in northern Italy as early as the 15th century. While the Tarot deck is still in use, the easier to find regular playing cards have often been substituted for it in more modern times. Though fortune telling is depicted on postcards these images are difficult to find. They are most likely to be placed on cards of ethnic types.
Fountains - There are two traditions of fountains, one from the ancient Romans where they served as the common tap on the public water supply, and the other from Asia where they were used symbolically in meditative or luxurious settings. After the fall of Rome the Eastern tradition spread to European gardens especially after the 17th century. By the 19th century as cities grew in size more municipal water systems were constructed and the public fountain on the Roman model spread across the West. This action was also encouraged by the growing temperance movement in an age when most drink was alcoholic since there were few public sources for clean water. Both traditions are widely depicted on postcards but in areas where indoor plumbing gained widespread use the urban fountain became purely decorative.
Frames - Many early postcards contained multi-view images exemplified by the Gruss aus card. These cards tended to employed elaborate graphic work including the use of drawn frames to separate individual scenes. As the use of vignettes grew less popular and the image began to consume one whole side of a card, frames continued to be used to separate a view from any surrounding graphic work, which was often symbolic in nature. Sometimes printers would show off their virtuosity by printing a view and the surrounding graphics in two different techniques often separated by a frame.
Freaks - Postcards depicting Freaks were usually made of the entertainers that performed at the sideshows accompanying the circus or at carnivals and fairs. Freaks published many of these cards themselves, which they sold on the side for extra revenue. Freak shows have steadily declined in number and with them their postcards.
Funerals - As cities grew the tradition churchyard burial sites became overcrowded and municipal cemeteries were created on their outskirts. By the mid-18th century this distance often created situations where the family could no longer accompany the body to its final burial place and more elaborate ceremonies were then held in churches to demonstrate proper respect. The transport of corpses to far off cemeteries was at first an informal affair but within a hundred years it was formally ritualized. Postcards will sometimes depict the accouterments of funerals such as the decorated wagons designed to carry bodies or of processions to bury the famous. Far more common are real photo postcards of the dead in their coffins, a carryover of an older tradition in studio photography.
Futuristic - These novelty cards are usually based on photographically produced views but have been heavily retouched with additions drawn on to them to depict what this place will look like in the future. These scenes are usually populated by elevated railways and all sorts of flying craft. These fantasies are meant to be humorous in nature rather than taken as serious predictions.