|Topicals Home History Glossary Guides Publishers Artists Techniques Warfare Blog Contact|
I - Topicals
Iceboating - Originally iceboats were designed for winter transport but these small sail craft equipped with runners for gliding over ice soon became widely used in racing. Iceboating clubs formed in many cold regions to engage in this sport. Most iceboats are made to hold only one passenger though much larger versions have been built. Because this activity is limited by geography the number of postcard depictions of it, and subsequent interest in it are also limited.
Ice Cream - While these frozen desserts have been handmade for centuries, it wasn’t until refrigeration was developed in the 1870’s that it was commonly sold. Ice cream making largely remained a type of small family owned business that sold their product at fairs, tourist attractions, and out of small shops. Only after 1926 with the invention of freezers did ice cream become a commercial industry. Despite its popularity, finding a postcard with an ice cream sign in it is fairly difficult.
Ice Cutting - Up until the end of the First World War the cutting of ice on rivers and ponds was a serious industry. In the days before good refrigeration the delivery of ice for iceboxes was a necessity for storing food. Cards were made depicting the cutting of ice and the large warehouses in which they were stored throughout all cold weather countries. Depictions of icemen making deliveries are far harder to find.
Ice Gorge - There are times in winter when a normally open flowing body of water such as a river can become completely choked with ice due to some sort of obstruction. Sometimes under extreme cold weather a river can freeze so solidly to become its own obstruction. As pressure continues to build up from behind the ice flow is slowly pushed forward, which can take out bridges, crush trapped ships, and even overflow its banks to wipe out entire riverfront sections of towns. These types of disasters were often captured on both printed and real photo postcards.
Ice Palace - The first ice palaces, constructed of cut ice blocks were built in 18th century Russia. The tradition eventually carried over into the United States and Canada where these palaces accompanied winter carnivals in the colder climates where these structures would last. Some of these palaces were hugh rising 14 stories and often dwarfing a city&rsqio;s more conventional buildings. They were meant to walk around in and were illuminated at night to great effect. While postcards were made of ice palaces they were limited to a small number of cities.
Ice Skating - Nearly every town with a pond or lake that would freeze over in winter used to have skaters on its surface. It was a very popular pastime and was depicted early on many postcards from both the United States and Europe. The theme of ice skating is often associated with romance. Fear of lawsuits from accidents have now forced many communities to prohibit this centuries old tradition or forced this once free activity into commercial skating rinks.
Ice Storm - In winter when rain from a warm upper atmosphere reaches the ground where the air is below freezing it begins to coat everything it flows over with a thin layer of ice. These conditions do not occur very often but when they do they can create a magical scene that any photographer would try to capture. These scenes were most often turned into real photo postcards because these storms were considered news events and the audience for them would dissipate over time. While many cards captured the beauty of the crystalline effects they can also show the vast destructiveness an ice storm could bring due to its burdensome weight on everything it touched.
Illusions - There is a long tradition of placing one set of images within a composition in such a manner that an entirely new image can emerge from it. This style, though rare had been used in paintings going back centuries. In the 19th century this type of montage was used in illustration work and this was passed on to postcards. The most common type of illusions found on postcards is that of lovers carefully posed so that when the details are lost at a distance, death in the symbolic form of a skull is implied. Sometimes these images are filled under the term morphic though they can also be classified as macabre.
Immigration - At the beginning of the 20th century most immigrants came to America by way of its ports. The immigration station at Ellis Island in New York saw the majority of these entrants. While most postcards depict the station’s main buildings, there are also more obscure scenes of the various stages of processing to be found.
Incline Railroads - As interest in natural tourism increased in the 1890’s so did the attempts of businessmen to find new attractions the public would pay for. The view from mountain tops had long made them popular destinations but were usually only accessible to the hardiest of travelers. Incline or small gauge railroads solved this problem allowing the feeblest of tourists to enjoy a grand view for a price. Summit houses offering rooms, meals, or other amenities increased their popularity. These railroads were difficult to maintain due to the difficult terrain they were built on and most disappeared over the years.
Indians - Images of Native Americans were produced in such great numbers that they form a classification apart from other ethnic postcards. As business promoted national tourism the now romanticized Indian became an important part of those ad campaigns. Tribes from all around the county tended to be depicted only in ways that matched the public’s expectations of them. Some cards however captured the last days of the true traditional life of these people.
Industry - Though seemingly not the most popular subject, enough postcards were produced to depict nearly every type of factory and industrial activity in this nation. Many of the specific industries pictured have disappeared under modernization or have moved overseas. Other family businesses have been bought out and since consolidated under larger corporations. Collectors tend to specialize in niche industries.
Insects - At the turn of the 20th century the use of insets in illustration and design was much more common than it is today. Children's stories and advertising at that time was full of Anthropomorphism. Growing interest in the natural sciences since the 19th century had created much visual data and public awareness. This was infused into the romantic movements who looked for influences in the natural world. Insects can be found on postcards as scientific illustrations, cartoons, and as cultural symbols.
Installment - These novelty postcards were issued in sets and meant to be sent to a single person over a short period of time. When all the cards were accumulated they could be pieced together to form a coherent image or message. It is no longer easy to find complete sets of these cards.
Invitations - For some cards that were used as invitations the invite was not written onto their backs but became the image on its front. Unlike some crudely printed advertising cards, these cards were either engraved or set in letterpress as a regular mailed formal invitation would be sent. Since these took on a postcard format they were usually accompanied by illustration or graphics that were printed in the same manner as the text. These cards are not common because not many were made and they were mostly discarded.