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There were seven eras for the postcard industry and each one has distinguishing points to help establish its respective identity.

The following helps determine the era of the card in question.

Many of the real photo postcards being done at the current time are reproductions of earlier historic photos.

The easiest way to distinguish a real photo postcard is to look at it under a magnifying glass; it will show smooth transitions from one tone to another. (Britain had already pioneered this in 1902.) The address was to be written on the right side; the left side was for writing messages.

Mashburn (Colonial House) The dating of the postcard for years or eras of issue can be accurately determined if the card is studied for identity points.

It is easy to identify these because of the inscription.

It may be noted that many of the early Pioneer views were reprints as Private Mailing Cards.

Compiled by Todd Ellison, Certified Archivist (last revised 8/7/2006)Although the world's first picture postcards date from the 1860s to the mid-1870s, most of the earliest American picture postcards extant today are those that were sold at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, starting on May 1, 1893. At this time, a dozen or more American printers began to take postcards seriously.

These were illustrations on government-printed postal cards and on privately printed souvenir cards. Congress on May 19, 1898 granted private printers permission to print and sell cards that bore the inscription Private Mailing Card. Still, no message was permitted on the address side. postal regulations on December 24, 1901 stipulated that the words Post Card should be printed at the top of the address side of privately printed cards.

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Cards can range from a few cents apiece to the hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars each!

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