These hand-tinted Japanese postcards are part of an exhibit titled “The Traveler’s Eye.” The postcards, produced in the early 20th century as Western visits to Japan increased in volume, show off the skills of Japan’s photo colorists.
The art of hand-tinting photographs, write the curators of a Harvard exhibit on the early photography of Japan, while first introduced in Europe, “became more refined and widespread” on the archipelago.
Many Japanese artists who had been employed by ukiyo-e woodblock studios found new employment with photographers when the popularity of photos pushed woodblocks out of fashion.
Although several nice versions of this Prichard & Knoll trade card with novelty fish lettering were produced in the later 19th century, you might say they are now endangered.
These two came from the same dealer and recently sold at auction for handsome sums. They are equally nice, however the first card has much finer detail held in the rainbow trout artwork and fish lettering.
It was printed by Stahl & Jaeger Artistic Lithographers in NYC. The second card has the name reversed and several alternate letters, along with some clever wave-like handlettered text with flourishes below the fish which add to its appeal.
They each have an eel ampersand.
Directly below is another unrelated trade card from 1871 with similar novelty lettering of fish.
This particular card from Fisher Ice Boxes and Refrigerators of Chicago, found here, is sporting an amphibious eel for the letter S. Although this Fisher card is nowhere near as elaborate as the two above, the artist did provide some level of detail to the three-colored fish.
I guess the imaginative art of fish lettering requires a fine line and some reel angling, just like fishing.
Postcards are extremely popular to collectors because they portray a lot of subjects, from picturesque landscapes to portraits of famous people. They can even portray various forms of art, architecture and events.
Postcards may also be considered as indicators of history, but it all depends on the determining factors that a certain postcard portrays.
There are lots of people who appreciate the value of postcards, which is why many of them collect postcards as a hobby.
Postcard collecting is technically known as deltiology, and is now considered one of the popular collectible hobbies.
Theodore Hooke posted the first picture postcard in 1840. It was a hand painted postcard depicting the post office and its workers (see above).
Apparently, it was Theodore Hooke himself who posted it as a practical joke, as it featured caricatures of the postal office workers themselves.
The American postal card was first conceptualised and patented by John P. Charlton in 1861. He eventually sold the rights to Hymen Lipman, who added borders to the postal cards.
These cards though, did not contain images and were known as “Lipman’s Postal Cards”.
A few years later, Leon Besnardeau made another picture postcard version. The postcard, became the first picture postcard in Britain.
It depicts emblematic images on one side of the postcard. However, there is no existing evidence indicating Leon Besnardeau mailed this postcard without an envelope. The postcard contains an inscription reading “War of 1870. Camp Conlie. Souvenir of the National Defence. Army of Brittany”.
A year after Britain’s first picture postcard was created, the first picture postcard that served as a souvenir came from Vienna. The following year, the first advertising card was distributed in Great Britain. In 1874, the first German postcard became available to the public.
In 1873, Morgan Envelope Factory was the first to develop the American postcard. In the same year as well, John Creswell, who was the postmaster during that time, presented the first pre-stamped postcards.
The main function of these postcards was to make a convenient means for people to easily send notes.
Two decades later, the post office created the first postcard souvenir to inform the masses of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This boosted the sales of the postcards. In 1880s as well, the cards depicting other forms of images became extremely popular. This has led to the “Golden Age” of postcards until the 1890s.
Postcards became popular especially during the early 1900s, when postcard publishing companies printed images of buildings and other structures.
In 1908 alone, there were approximately 700 million postcards mailed. Almost two decades later came the “white border” era. This era featured postcards with white borders around them.
Eventually the “white border” era was replaced by the “linen card” era, which took place in the early 1930s. These linen cards feature a texture similar to linen cloth. This ‘linen card’ trend lasted until the 1950s.