About

The height of the postcard era, c.1905-1920, produced a renaissance of everyday expression.  Since the 1870s, photography had slowly expanded beyond the purview of the professional and become accessible to amateurs. A generation later at the beginning of the 20th century, this evolution took a great leap forward with the introduction of the picture postcard. Photographs could now be sent through the mail and a deluge soon followed. From the rural landscapes of small towns to the monuments and landmarks of large cities, no impression was too unimportant or too grand to be captured. This freedom was based on the fact that anyone from the professional photographer to the rural school teacher could take a photograph and have it made into a postcard. People photographed their homes, schools, churches, streets, families, i.e. their world and then shared these photographs with friends and family. It is the sheer ordinariness of these glimpses of the everyday world that make them so extraordinary.

All true but a little over the top. Nearly all postcard views are based on photographs but only a small proportion of these postcards are actual photographs. These postcard photographs, known as real photo postcards (RPPCs), are produced by a silver or iron based photographic process rather than the far more prevalent ink printing process of the period. The photographic medium allowed unparalleled sharpness and tonality of images and possessed a natural beauty rarely conveyed by the printed version of these images.