Postcard collecting was an international obsession in the early years of the 20th century. Below is an early printed French postcard of a woman with a fantastic cascade of postcard greetings. Articles were published in magazines, decrying the demise of the handwritten letter and tracing the spread of the blight. Here’s a selection of quotes from the excellent book, Picture Postcards in the United States 1893-1918 by George & Dorothy Miller*:
Postcard collecting had become widespread in Europe by the turn of the century. Hearst writer Julian Ralph…went abroad in 1901 and, upon his return, filed a lengthy piece on the phenomenon with Cosmopolitan. Titled, “The Postal-Card Craze,” the article appeared in the February 1902 issue and without a doubt served to catch the American public eye…by 1905 card collecting had reached comparable proportions in the United States...One certain indicator that a social phenomenon has reached epidemic proportions is the existence of topical humor in the popular press. American Magazine in March 1906 featured an amusing commentary on the collecting rage titled “Postal Carditis and Some Allied Manias”…
It’s only natural that the craze produced a variety of postcards about buying, sending, displaying and collecting postcards. We’ve gathered some different deltiology postcards here to show you how wide the collection can be – postcard displays, people holding their postcard albums, postcards of postcard shops, and contemporary postcards advertising postcard clubs and shows. Here is a real photo postcard (rppc) of a little girl holding a big French postcard. Below is the interior of a turn-of-the-century postcard store.
*Although this book was copyrighted in 1976, it’s still one of the most comprehensive and useful books for the collector, tracing the history of postcards and illustrating a wide variety of popular collecting areas – advertising, expositions, signed artists, patriotics, greeting, etc. A valuable volume to have on your bookshelf!