Glossary

Album Marks
Triangular indentations found on the corners of postcards that were stored in albums that used corner mounts.

Artist Signed
Not actual signatures, this expression typically denotes the presence of the illustrator’s name on a postcard.

AZO
A brand of silver chloride photo paper often used with real-photo postcards. Owned by Kodak, the paper was used from 1898 until 2005.

Ben-Day Dots
Named after illustrator and printer Benjamin Henry Day, Jr., this printing technique makes use of tiny dots, spaced or overlapping, that produce shading and color variations.

Chrome Postcards
Postcards produced using the photochrome process, allowing for accurate reproduction of color photos. Today’s postcards are “chromes”.

Continental Postcards
At 4 by 6 inches, continental postcards are larger than the 3½ by 5½ inch standard postcards. They gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1970s.

Crazing
A pattern of cracks found on some early postcards that were coated with a protective varnish layer.

Deckle Edge
A rough, irregular edge found on some postcards, particularly those from the linen era. Curt Teich used this type of edging in their “Colorit” line.

Deltiology
Derived from the Greek, deltiology is a term denoting the study of postcards.

Divided Back
Introduced in the U.S. in 1907, divided back cards bisected the postcard back vertically, with the left used for correspondence and the right for the recipient’s address. The term is usually applied to divided postcards produced up to the introduction of the “white border” postcards. (which also have divided backs)

Embossed
Postcards produced with certain design elements presented in relief by the use of molded die forms. Frequently, but not exclusively, applied to holiday postcards.

Exaggeration Postcards
Comically exaggerated postcard images, often depicting over-sized produce, animals or insects.

Foxing
Brown spots found on vintage postcards that are a product of iron oxide reacting to moisture. Typically seen on older cards that were stored for extended periods in environments where temperature and humidity fluctuated significantly.

Glitter
Decorative glitter would be glued to some early postcards, sometimes to spark sales of otherwise slow-moving images. This practice was hampered in 1907 when the postal service began requiring that cards so adorned must be mailed inside an envelope.

Hand Colored
The earliest color postcards were made by using water-based paint, typically applied by women in assembly-line fashion.

Leather Postcards
Made in limited numbers until 1907, when postal regulations banned their use because they jammed sorting machines.

Linen Postcards
Cards that possess a fabric-like texture, introduced in the 1930s and produced through the 1950s.

National Postcard Week
The first full week each May, recognized in both the U.S. and the U.K.  The celebration was first held May 6-12, 1984, but has roots in various “Postcard Days” that go back as far as 1911.

Private Mailing Card
Before the terms Post Card or Postcard came into use, cards in the U.S. between 1899 and 1901 were called Private Mailing Cards. Regulations required that they be 3¼ by 5½ inches and bear the words, “Private Mailing Card – Authorized by act of Congress, May 19th, 1898” on the back. Correspondence could be written only on the front.

Real Photo Postcard
True photographs, applied to card stock for mailing. Often abbreviated to RPPC.

Risqué Postcards
Postcards, usually comical, that include some sort of sexual innuendo. These were most popular during the linen era.

Soft Corners
Damage to the corners of a postcard, generally due to rough, careless, or excessive handling.

Standard Size
Postcards that are 3½ by 5½ inches in size.

Tinseling
See glitter.

Undivided Back
These immediately followed the Private Mailing Card era, and were the first to be designated a Post Card. These were used from December 24th, 1901 until March 3rd, 1907, at which time cards became divided to allow for correspondence on the back.

White Border
White border postcards came into production during World War I, when cards were no longer sourced from Germany. Printed in the U.S., they were produced until linen postcards began to predominate the market in the late ’30s, and are known by their white borders and often mediocre quality.