Determining the age of a postcard can be difficult. Although there are some obvious clues such as looking at the postmarked date, there are many postcards that were never mailed. For these cards there are some determining clues that you can look for to find out the exact age of a postcard. There are historians that put together a set of guidelines that contains seven eras for postcards and each one has very unique keys to establishing the time line of your postcard.
The first was the Pioneer era which lasted from 1893 to 1898. The first sale of a postcard was at the Colombian Exposition in Chicago in May of 1893. These early postcards have undivided backs and will have multiple view photographs. None of these cards show the Authorized by Act of Congress byline, but the words Souvenir of or Greetings From will appear and they even have titles such as Souvenir or Mail Card.
Private Mailing Card Era
The second era was the Private Mailing Card Era that lasted from 1898 to 1901. They are easy to decipher because they all say Private Mailing Card on them. These PMC’s were often the same pictures of the Pioneer Era but clearly showed this inscription.
Undivided Back Era
The third era was the Undivided Back Era which lasted from 1901 to 1907. In December of 1901, instead of using the words Private Mailing Card, they started to print the words Post Card on all of the cards. These cards are also aptly named in this era because they all have undivided backs. The unique thing about this era is that all of the cards only allowed the address on the back, so the front of the card where the picture is located is where the people sending the card would write the message. bridesmaids.
Divided Back Era
The fourth era is the Divided Back Era which lasted from March of 1907 to 1915. This made the card more popular because it gave the ability to write both the message and the address on the back of the card. This allowed the picture to be shown in greater detail and is quite a thrill for collectors. The cards of this era showed a full picture usually with no white border.
White Border Era
The fifth era is the White Border Era which lasted from 1915 to 1930. Often a poor quality reprint of the Divided Back Era, the postcards were made usually by the United States rather than other countries. They have white borders around the pictured areas to distinguish them from the previous era.
The sixth era is the Linen Era which lasted from 1930 to 1945. Higher quality postcards were being made, usually on linen-like paper. They still used cheap ink though which brought down the overall value though. The pictures were mostly of the changes taking place in the geographic structure of America.
The seventh and final era is the Photochrome Era which started in 1939 and brings us to the present day. The pictures become more colorful and are very appealing. With the chrome colors and vivid photographs, even the recent cards are sure to be collectibles.
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