Do you, perchance, practice deltiology? If so, then this is certainly a big week for you! It is National Postcard Week, as any good deltiologist would know. The study and collection of postcards likely began with the establishment of the first postal service. In 1873, plain pre-stamped “mailed cards” with address on one side and a message on the other, began finding their way into the US mail.. Since they were considered mundane pieces of mail, only a few survive today.
Picture postcards debuted at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago to extreme fanfare. Collecting, mailing and trading postcards as a hobby took off. Lithography, photography, and printing companies could hardly meet public demand. At the height of their popularity in 1908, over 677 million were mailed in the US alone! Some were specially printed for holidays or businesses, but many were specific to a locale, anywhere from Chicago’s public swimming pools to Egypt’s private pyramids.
Today the postcard seem a little quaint compared to the technologically sophisticated, real-time social media options, but the postcard still remains relevant in its own right. As long as people still enjoy sending and receiving snail-mail greetings from distant places, postcards will live to see another day. Just ask any of the 500,000 members of the internet deltiology club “Postcrossing.”
Stop by the museum to check out the picture postcards on display in the main gallery or share some of your own on the museum’s Facebook page.