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From the Archives: Real Photo Postcards

Real Photo Postcards 1899-1930s

Real Post Card and Cabinet card-2
Real Post Card and Cabinet card-3

MOA has a vast collection of hundreds of Jury Family personal photographs beginning in the 1890’s and ending in the 1960’s. Within the collection we see the unique shift of photography during the early 1900s, especially with the introduction of the real photo postcard.

The real photo postcard began after the development of the dry plate process and roll film in the 1880s. The introduction of roll film was integral to the shift of professional photography allowing for photos to be created by the ‘common man’. Many companies opened during this time in order to supply the public’s demand which in turn depressed the entire market. George Eastman, the man most responsible for the real photo postcard decided in order to survive the highly competitive market, he needed to create something unique. He created the new camera system Kodak with a highly recognized marketing campaign; you press the button, we do the rest.

Real Post Card and Cabinet card-4

By 1899, the first real photo post card was created which proved cheaper to make than the traditional cabinet cards. This revolutionized the photo industry since it allowed the ‘common man’ to take their own images, including scenery, and have them developed at a quicker pace for a minimal fee. Professional photographers found it hard to compete in the new open market and many of them took up selling their own postcards in order to make ends meet. That being said, sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between a mass produced image and a one of a kind.  Whats extrodinary about the new real post cards is that it offers museums and historians alike a glimpse into the ordinary lives of people in the past.

Real Post Card and Cabinet card-1

Additional Sources:

A Guide to Real Photo Post Cards

Online Photography Magazine. 2009. Real Photo vs. Printed Photo Postcards.


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