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Wagons - At the turn of the 20th century much commerce and many services were delivered through the use of horse drawn wagons. Cards that focus in on specific wagons, where their purpose is known fit best into this category. The presence of writing on the wagon, especially of obscure trades makes these cards highly desirable. They are more often found as real photo postcards than in printed form.
War Damage - These cards will usually fall under the general category of military but they were produced in such great numbers that they can be a topical subject in their own right. While cards from all wars depicted some effects of combat, they are most commonly found on cards printed during the First World War. It was then that artillery pieces grew to mammoth proportions and the destruction of the landscape and men by high explosives reached staggering proportions. It was also much more safe for photographers to capture the after effects of bombardment than actual battle. Most of these cards were published in France where they could be used as propaganda against German aggression. With little fighting on American soil during the years of the postcard, few images of war damage were produced in the United States. American publishers did however capture the damage caused in Mexico during the Revolution.
Water Carts - Most of America’s roads lacked pavement well into the 20th century. As they dried out during the hot summer months the least bit of traffic could stir up huge clouds of dust. In more populated areas the communities that could afford it sent out horse drawn carts hauling tanks of water that would spray down the roads. While this was a common practice it is rare to find such scenes on postcards. As the Prohibition movement gained momentum in the 1890’s their members would say they would rather quench their thirst by climbing onto a water cart than to take a drink of hard liquor. This is the possible origin of the phrase on the wagon. There are still enough dirt roads today that require spraying only now the old carts have been replaced by trucks that lay down everything from chemical mixtures to soybean oil.
Waterfalls - Normally waterfalls are classified as ordinary view-cards but they were depicted in such great numbers that they can form a genre of their own. These postcards can be found from almost all regions throughout the world.
Waves - Where ever there is an ocean there are postcards published of waves. New England’s rocky shore however provides some dramatic contrasts and is the most common location to find these cards. Most of these cards were issued as generics with little to no identifiable scenery in them. They are more common as real photos postcards than in printed form and they can range from the bland to the beautiful. While they tend to seem mundane today it must be remembered that at the time they made their first appearance most Americans had never seen the ocean or even pictures of it.
Western - Though there are many view-cards depicting the Western landscape, those that fit best into the genre of the West revolve on mythological connotations. This can consist of imagery of cowboys and those sites connected to western settlement. Events and revivals for tourist consumption can also fit in here. While depictions of Native Americans have their own category, those confrontational scenes of Indians with the White Man fall into this Western narrative.
Whaling - The demand for oil in the 19th century turned whaling into a major industry, but by the time postcards came into production petroleum based products were rapidly replacing whale oil. Most scenes depicting whaling on postcards were of images captured many years earlier and contemporary views were more than likely to show an old whaling ship rotting in a harbor. Whaling continues today but few images of it are found on postcards because its practice has become an unacceptable activity in many places due to changing attitudes toward animals.
Will Leave - In the first half of the 20th century it was not uncommon in many communities to have two mail deliveries a day. In this environment postcards became a fairly efficient method of sending quick messages, especially before most people had telephones. While any sort of postcard could be sent, a special form of fill in card was produced specifically for those in transit that could be purchased at a local newsstand. Few of these cards survive as they were not meant to be souvenirs.
Windmills - While many beleive windmills come from Holland this is just a stereotype partially supported by postcards. Many images of windmills can be found on cards from all over the world and just as many came from the American Northeast where they were especially built during the early settlement of Long Island and Cape Cod. Though some windmills have now been restored for tourists, many of these obsolete structures found on cards fell into disrepair and exist no more.
Wine - Images depicting the manufacture and consumption of wine are almost as old as man himself. Though there are postcards showing vineyards and people drinking wine along with a number of cards advertising brands, there have been a number of cards published for more generic greetings based on nothing more than the Romance of wine. Champagne also fits in here and is often shown in association with holidays such as on New Years cards.
Winter - Cards of Winter, specifically snow scenes, are often classified under scenery or location when known. But a great many of these cards were made depicting this particular season without holiday narrative, place name, or any sort of popular winter activity or sport included within them. The popularity of these simple scenes with the general public inspired many publishers to tackle the subject. Winter is worthy of being considered a genre in its own right.
Wireless Stations - The first wireless two way Transatlantic telegram was sent between President Theodore Roosevelt on Cape Cod and King Edward VII at Cornwall, England in 1903. This was made possible through the erection of large transmitting stations and the technology invented by Guglielmo Marconi. Other stations continued to be built until a transmitting network was established around the globe. Many of these stations appeared on postcards until 1917 when they began being shut down for security reasons or became casualties of war. After World War One advancing radio technology made these stations obsolete though new towers would now be built for radio transmission and also be placed on postcards.
Witches - Images of witches are rarely found outside of holiday cards but within this genre they are plentiful. Traditionally witches have been portrayed as Hags but in the hands of more modern illustrators they can be beautiful as well. On many Halloween cards children are pictured costumed as witches. Halloween was once a big card giving occasion before it became associated with candy. Witches can also be found on art reproductions, Easter cards (see Easter Witch), the rare card dealing with paganism, and on early German view-cards where the location was associated with witchcraft.
Women - A great number of photographic and illustrated cards were made of women as subjects. While some were made of noted people the vast majority of these cards were anonymous depictions stressing the virtues or desires of the day. In many ways these cards were socially permissible substitutes for nudes and easier to come by. Those from the United States tended to depict women with a romantic innocence while those made in Europe stressed a more overt sexuality. The turn of the 20th century saw many shifts in social roles and the way women were depicted generated much interest in postcards. The desirability of these cards today is often determined by the artist who produced them.
Wood - The image on this form of novelty card was usually printed on a thin veneer of wood then glued to a paper card stock backing. They are very fragile tending to crack and warp with age. Other variations exist as some had images burnt into thicker sheets of wood while others had printed or photo images sandwiched between two wooden sheets exposed through die cut openings. All these variations are considered novelties.
Woodblock - Small publishers and individual artists sometimes created postcards with original block prints on them. They never became a widely popular genre because of their higher prices when first printed and their scarcity today. While printed in small numbers many more were reproduced in quantity as lithographic cards. This is esspectially true among cards reproducing the work of famous Japanese artists. The traditional Japanese woodblock style cannot only be found on some cards from Japan but on American cards advertising Japanese products such as teas.
Woodcutting - Not to be confused with lumbering, woodcutting is the cutting and splitting of logs into pieces small enough to be consumed by a designated fire. Wood was and in many places still is a primary source of fuel. In northern climates a typical frame home would burn more wood for heat over a winter than the house itself was made of. Cords of wood were stacked and dried so they would be ready to use as needed. The burning of wood for charcoal was also essential in the production of steel. While woodpiles were once a very common sight across the land they are not often captured on postcards.
World War One - All aspects of this war from the home front to battle scenes to soldiers in uniform were depicted on postcards. While many cards contained propagandistic or romantic elements, others provided news from the war front and are very candid, more so than anything found on cards today. Many of these cards were produced for purchase by the higher paid American army in France, and can be found printed in both French and English. The vast majority of these war related cards were printed in Europe in spite of material shortages and the ware raging around them.
World War Two - Although many cards were produced relating to this war, most were made for correspondence rather than to convey any sort of news, which now had other outlets. Few battlefront scenes were produced for this war as many notions of the romantic battlefield had disappeared with the still living memory of the First World War. Most were generic cards depicting camp barracks or military equipment. Comic postcards poking fun at life in the army proved to be very popular, softening the difficult realities thatmany faced.
Write - Although the advent of the postcard replaced letter writing in many ways this new arrangement was unacceptable to many. Postcards were fine but some felt this should be in addition to letters. The backs of numerous cards contain messages asking for a letter or stating that the sender will write soon, meaning a letter. Whether these letters ever arrived is anyone’s guess but the odds were against it in the new postcard climate. This situation inspired a new genre of postcards to be sent to those lagging behind on their letter writing obligations.