15 September 2014

Amanuensis Monday: Postcards


Normally a post for Amanuensis Monday would be more about a specific letter or card but this week, I would like to talk about postcards in general. I personally love postcards. They are a great way to say hello, stay connected with someone and yet because of the limited space not feel obligated to write a novel.

From a historical point of view, postcards are a great way to preserve local history. For example, I have come across several postcards of dams, railroads, simple scenes of towns and businesses, and buildings no longer standing. Often a postcard will reveal a tidbit about a place as well. One card features the Schwartz Stein Collection, located (at that time) at 2177 Fruitville Pike, Lancaster, PA. The tidbit reveals this is the "largest collection of antique steins in the world. There are over 4,600 from the largest 48" to the smallest 1/32" high. Open to the public by appointment only."

Postcards can reveal so much information if you know where to look. Sometimes the photo is just a photo and sometimes it reveals where the sender has been. The postmark will reveal where it was sent from and sometimes where it was received. Your postcard may have had an adventure of its own getting to you!

A side note: I remember in high school we lived in Sadsbury Township, Lancaster County. The school - Octorara - was in Atglen, Chester County. Even though it wasn't that far (by way of the crows), my schedules and report cards would literally go from Atglen to Philadelphia (the main post office) to Lancaster (a large sorting facility) to Christiana (our mailing address was RD Christiana) to the house!

This postcard, at left, was sent from Birdell on 28 November 1907. It was received that evening, at 7 p.m. to be specific, in Honey Brook. The stamp is a one cent Benjamin Franklin, green. It is one of the Ordinary Postage Stamps Issue of 1902-03. This particular stamp was issued on 3 February 1903. It is a head shot of Franklin and has the figure of a child on either side. The children are nude except for a flowing drape covering their loins. There are images of light bulbs in the upper corners of the stamp.

Despite the limited space on a postcard they can tell an incredible story as well. The collection I have been going through has consisted mostly of letters to one gentleman and his family. The postcards, when looked at as a whole collection, reveal a lot about the recipient and his friends.  They can also tell a story of a specific area or town. I have a few cards from Lock Haven. No family connection but it's where I went to college and simply fell in love with the area. Through those cards, and simply knowing what the town looked like when I lived there, I can see how certain things have changed over time. The cards act as a documentation of local history.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.