The History of Postcards

The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum Library boasts more than 10,000 postcards in its “hidden” collection. Arranged by subject in card file drawers, they range in date from the turn of the century to the 1990’s. In our last post, the architecture of New York and Los Angeles was featured. In this third post, the Libraries will feature the history of postcards. Sending postcards did not appear out of thin air.  A number of innovations in the postal system in the preceding quarter of a century helped create this new postal age. One such innovation was the introduction of uniform penny postage in Great Britain in 1840 that made mail delivery easy and affordable. Previously, prices for shipping letters was based on the distance the mailman had to travel. Fees were not collected up-front from the sender, but instead a surprised recipient would find a mailman on his or her doorstep, demanding payment. Post offices had been hemorrhaging money through this system, for recipients would often refuse their mail and more »

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