Collecting Real Photo Postcards by Barbara Levine
It is hard to resist the charm, authenticity and one-of-a kind appeal
of real photo postcards (rppcs). Significantly different than a
snapshot which was predominantly private in nature, rppcs were intended
as a form of communication with others and it was not unusual for
friends and loved ones to send amusing and sometimes bizarre images to
each other. Amateurs and professional photographers alike made rppcs
covering subjects ranging from the outlandish to landscape to souvenir
studio portraits to historical events. Photo postcards appeared soon
after George Eastman invented the roll film process and the Brownie
camera in 1900. Around that time Kodak purchased the rights to Velox
photo paper and heavily marketed the easy to use developing out paper,
which was on heavy stock to prevent curling and came with a pre printed
postcard back. In 1903 Eastman introduced the No. 3A Folding Pocket
Kodak. The camera, designed for postcard-size film, allowed the general
public to take photographs and have them printed on postcard backs.
Rppcs continued in popularity until the 1930s when other photographic
processes became more readily available.
From artists who use the postcard as canvas and exchange their art in mail art groups to serious postcard and photograph collectors, the personal, authentic and idiosyncratic nature of rppcs has always captured the interest and curiosity of artists and collectors. Martin Parr's book , Parrworld , includes a selection of wild and beautiful rppcs Parr collected over a thirty year period and in 2009, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition, Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard, focused on the 9,000 picture postcards collection Evans amassed during his lifetime (1903-1975) .
All photographs from the Collection of Barbara Levine / PROJECT B