Sunday, May 19, 2013
May 19 - Postcards in the United States
On May 19, 1898, the U.S. Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act, which allowed private publishers and printers to print and market postcards. Previous to that date the U.S. Post Office held a monopoly on printing postcards. For several years, the government also restricted private companies to the use of the term “souvenir cards,” which had to be labeled "Private Mailing Cards." The term “post card” was allowed for private publishers in 1901. Before 1907, postcards could not have a “divided back”: i.e., only an address could appear on the back, a message appearing only on the front. The 20th century’s first decade is considered the “Golden Age” of picture postcards. The public loved them. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, nearly 680 million postcards were mailed (when the U.S. population was less than 89 million). Most picture postcards sold in the United States were printed in Germany, where lithography was an art. That ended with World War I, and so did the postcard craze.