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L - Topicals
The Language of Flowers - Flowers have been given symbolic meaning in art at least since Medieval times. In the Victorian age flowers took on whole new sets of meanings and were often used in a secret language called floriography to express thoughts or feelings that were socially unacceptable to be spoken. This language was spoken through floral arrangements to wearing flowers or only the scent. As with any new language vocabulary must be leaned and numerous guides were published. Postcards were used both to define meanings and employed the language itself.
Large Letter - These cards expressing greetings from states, cities, towns, and various locals have been popular for a long time though most commonly found on linens. They are a modern variation of the traditional Greetings from card.
Leap Year - Because the Julian Calendar is not accurately coordinated with the astronomical year an extra day must sometimes be added onto a calendar year. During the 19th century when the rules governing courtship were far more more strict than they are today in the West only men were allowed to propose marriage to women with one exception. On the seldom offered day of February 29th, which only occurred in Leap Years women were allowed to initiate proposals without social condemnation. This tradition was well known when postcards appeared and it became a regular card giving occasion. As social standards eased these cards faded from popularity.
Lifesaving - Prior to joining with the Revenue Cutter Service to form the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915, the U.S. Lifesaving Service watched over our shores for ships in distress. Because their services were often provided in conditions not conducive to photography few images of these men in action exist. Most cards depict the stations themselves or the lifesaving drills and public displays.
Lighthouse - Lighthouses were already considered romantic subject mater when postcards came into production. The lights depicted in greatest number were those with the easiest public access. It can be very difficult to obtain cards of those lights far away from tourist spots. At the height of postcard production there were over 600 light stations in active service in the United States alone. Many of these have been destroyed or had their keeper’s quarters removed when they were automated. Today most light stations only exist intact as postcard imagery.
Lightning - This compelling phenomenon has long freighted and awed people by its powerful presence. Scenes with lightning would probably appear more often on postcards if capturing it on film wasn’t such a haphazard affair. Even so postcards were produced showing lightning racing through the sky. Sometimes these were typical view-cards of specific places, while other cards were of anonymous views where the lightning itself was presented as the main feature.
Logging - The cutting of trees has been an important part of the American economy since Europeans first landed here. They were greatly impressed by the old growth forests that had disappeared beyond living memory in Europe. While postcards have been made of the lumbering industry in all regions, the greatest number of cards depict the cutting of old giants in California and the Pacific Northwest, where their size still inspires awe.
Lost Love - A tremendous amount of romance postcards were produce so it should come as no surprise that a fair number of cards were made on the theme of lost love. These were usually artist signed cards and confined to the woman’s point of view as the expression of emotions by men was generally considered unseemly. These compositions presenting a single solitary women should not be confused with themes of contemplation of general figure studies.
Love - Those aspects of love that are not depicted on romance cards or those of couples in passionate embrace often take on comic aspects even if they like love are sometimes bittersweet.
Lover’s - Though pairs of lovers can be included within the genre of romance cards, many romance cards only politely hint at pursuits of ardor while those depicting lovers in passionate embrace are so common to be a genre in themselves. Some of the women on these cards bare so much skin that they can be classified as risque or even erotic.
Lover’s Lane - Many towns throughout the United States had postcards made supposedly depicting their lover’s lane. These cards are typically tree lined ways with no discernible subjects to identify place. The term lover’s lane was most likely added to the title of many more than ordinary looking cards to increase their sales possibilities. Other lover’s lane cards were most likely a way of creating generics and increasing sales by spreading a not so popular image over a broader geographical area.
Luck - It is unknown how many postcard buyers believed in lucky charms but cards were made as such in fair numbers and they sold. One or more traditional symbols of good luck such as an old shoe, horseshoes, four leaf clovers, elephants, pigs, ladybugs, and swastikas were often placed on them. Although hearts are not a symbol of luck they too are often found on these cards. Hearts are a symbol of love, which is what most of us want luck in.
Lynching - At the time postcards depicting lynching were made, many did not see them as depicting a heinous crime but as glorifying justice served. While this view is based on the tradition of Lynch Laws that allowed the administration of justice without resorting to the inefficiencies of the legal system, it most often functioned as the ritual murder of Blacks, especially by hanging, to maintain white supremacy through the use of terrorism. A lynching was usually a festive community activity that attracted local photographers who would try to produce as many real photo postcards of the event as possible so they could be quickly sold as souvenirs. Though some of these images eventually made their way on to printed cards the vast majority issued were as real photos. Outlawed from the mail in 1912, these cards have become rare today and are valued among collectors.