|Abbreviations used with postcards
a/s - artist signed
b/w - black & white
ca - circa (used in dating)
db - divided back
ub - undivided back
emb - embossed
publ - publisher
rppc - real photo postcard
uns - unsigned
unu - unused
wof - writing on face
wob - writing on back
|Condition / Grading|
M - Mint - perfect
NM - Near Mint - very, very light aging.
EX - Excellent - like mint with no bends or creases.
VG - Very Good - corners may be just a bit rounded.
G - Good - corners may be noticeably blunt or rounded.
F - Fair - creases more pronounced, corners more rounded.
P - Poor - excess soil, stained, heavy creases.
• P o s t c a r d • Types • D a t i n g •
Postcard types recognized here are the following NINE:
Pioneer, Private Mailing Card, Real Photo, Undivided Back, Divided Back, White Border, Linen, Chrome, Continental.
(1893-1898) Pioneer Era introduced at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, May, 1893. They have undivided backs, do NOT show the "Authorized by Act of Congress" byline, have the Grant or Jefferson head stamp, most are multiple view cards, postage rate if listed is 2 cents, many say "Souvenir of.." or "Greetings from...", most common titles are "Souvenir Card" or "Mail Card".
(1898-1901) The Private Mailing Card(PMC) These were the first cards authorized by Congress to be privately printed, yet mailed at the same one-cent rate as the government post-office postal cards. The law (passed May 19, 1898) authorizing these cards went into effect July 1st, 1898, and required the cards to be marked Private Mailing Card on the stamp side. No writing, other than the address, was allowed on the stamp side. Some pioneer era cards were stamped Private Mailing Card so they would qualify for the reduced postage rate.
(1901-Present) Real Photo Introduced ca. 1901 they have been continuously produced ever since. These are actual photographs, printed on paper that has a post-cardback. Looking at a card with a magnifying glass, the real photos have a continuous gradation. Lithographs are screened (made up of small dots). There are other printing processes that produce photographic reproductions without the dot-pattern of a screen, such as the Albertype.
(1901-1907) Undivided Back marks the beginning of cards labeled Postcard or Post Card and having an undivided back. Private printers were authorized to use the term Postcard or Post Card instead of Private Mailing Card beginning December 24th, 1901, but writing (other than the address) was still not allowed on the stamp side.
(1907-1915) Divided Back Authorized beginning March 1st, 1907, these cards allowed for written messages on the stamp side, which is divided into two parts. Now postcard makers could use the entire other side of the card for images. Variatons occurred.
(1915-1930) White Border In this period that the style was introduced and became fashionable. Many think publishers left a white border around the edge to save on the amount of ink per postcard. Others think the white border was made to resemble similar borders found on photographs.
(1930-1945) Linen Embossed on front with fine hatchwork lines, to give the impression of better quality. Similar textured surfaces, sometimes with lines but more often with dots or small squares, can be seen on many white-border era cards. Linen cards sometimes have white or colored borders, while others are printed to the edge. Non-linen cards were produced during this period, both view cards and art cards, but the Linen was most common.
(1939-1970) Photochrome "Modern Chromes" are characterized by the glossy color picture postcards that you can buy today. Like preceding cards, these generally measured about 3.5 x 5.5 inches. The larger Continental size occurs occasionally, as well as other odd sizes. The standard size occurs more frequently.
(1970-Present) Continental is made by the same process as Chrome cards, but is a slightly larger format, usually about 4 x 6 inches. Although larger cards dominate this period, (including many odd sizes larger than the Continental, or smaller than standard cards) standard size cards continued to be produced in smaller numbers.
* This scheme applies mostly to cards made in the U.S.A. or for the U.S. market. Other countries can vary. There are many exceptions to this quideline.
** This information was combined from several sources; the internet, postcard reference books and personal experience.