Regular TPA readers are familiar with this column. As this is read also by newcomers, I am presenting some common, general topics, too. Let’s start with Postcard Novelties. With the ongoing postcard boom, publishers were forced to produce more and more new designs within shorter intervals to meet customers requirements, be ahead of competitors. Furthermore from about 1898 on numerous persons/firms registered (D.R.G.M. in Germany) postcard novelties of various make/material/design. Some new designs made it - but the majority not.

I was told that there had been attempts to compile type lists of old postcards already by the late 1960’s in the U.S.A. Wow. Committed people back then. From photocopies given I learn that these people made up some 10 main categories/sections with a number of subcategories each. Here is an example:


Applique Section: Embroidered Cards – Felt or Velvet – Fur-Cloth Cards – Pennant Cards – Pin Cushion Cards – Ribboned Cards – Satin Applique – Satin-Picture Applique – Woven Silk Cards. Interesting stuff. Going to find out more on this. Although I fear I have never seen some of the listed card makes before yet. Never heard of ‘Kleenex Cards’ or ‘Mystery Hinge Cards’, too.

 Postcard sizes and shapes

Some national requirements of the early years resulted in smaller postcard sizes (British court size for example) than the later (UPU) common c. 140 x 90 mm standard.

Clever publishers soon made use of the minimum and maximum sizes allowed to be mailed under postcard postage rate. But that wasn’t all, so-called giant cards were issued. These had to be sent under letter postage rate. The earliest sample I know of is a series of cards published and printed by Knackstedt & Naether, Hamburg, on occasion of the visit of the German emperor to Palestine in 1898. Cards measured 220 x 148 mm.

Another popular postcard novelty were Panorama Cards, usually 2 - 4 regular cards in one piece and fold-out design. They required double postcard postage or letter rate. But there are city panorama cards not as fold-out but in one piece, like the series by Dr. Trenkler & Co, Leipzig. Measurements: 358 x 128 mm and to be mailed under Printed Matter rate. Did they arrive without damage? Well, I believe that postmen surely hated them.

More common were smaller designs, occasionally offered under the name “micro-cards”. The smallest size acceptable for postcard rate was about 75 x 120 mm in Germany according my actual knowledge. Smaller size cards had to be mailed as Printed Matter, not only in Germany but elsewhere too as some finds show.

The rhombus shape card illustrated below is among the most unusual designs I have seen so far.


<  This is the smallest sized card (sized 42 x 130 mm) I know of which was also postally used. I call it the “Slim Lady” as it bears no caption or any publisher information at all. A real (bromide) photo card, with hardly any room to write message. Mailed in Germany in May 1904 with a 15 Pf postage due mark. With Printed Matter as well Union Postale Universelle imprint.

Gott nytt Śr - winter motif. Card size: 71 x 105 mm. Offset printed in Sweden, not p/u, 1930’s? Later? Signed Curt Nystroem. Published by Axel Eliassons Konstfoerlag A.B., Stockholm.


> Two kids standing under a letterbox. Real photo (bromide) card by an (unknown) publisher who used the initials “S.W.B.” inside clover leaf logo. The anonymous firm either in close business relationship or even a daughter company of Rotophot, Berlin. The card / series number reads 1483/84. Illustrated are both sides of this unusual postcard design. Sizes: about 130 mm over all, c. 86 mm width. Not to be mailed under postcard but printed matter rate. Are there any other samples of this most unusual sized cards around?


<  This is NOT a ‘genuine’ postcard but a ‘Kinderpost’ = post office game for children, item. However, this small card, size 78 x 53 mm, was printed after an original card. It shows a view from Hamburg. Printed (halftone) on typical card quality. Furthermore some person wrote a message, to a kid I guess, on the card dated 1917. It bears a official looking but small ‘Kinderpost’ postage stamp. No information on hand on the firm who had produced these special items after original postcards.

 Gramophone Postcards

Some of you might have seen a gramophone postcard / phonocard, especially the popular British ‘Tuck’s’ gramophone cards, somewhere before. So-called ‘talking cards’ were around shortly after the turn of the century. Of more interest however, is the patent of a Max Thomas from Berlin dating from October 1904 (filed also in the UK in August 1905) about “improvements in phongram cards by combining an ordinary postcard with a (transparent celluloid) phonographic record in such a manner that the improved phonogram card can be sent by post without diminishing the maximum pictorial area of the card”. Other improvements were patented by French inventors.

Above mentioned ‘Tuck’s gramophone card came into circulation in 1929. Probably the best design (song with matching image without covering anything) was patented by Hans Wiesner & Co. (Weco) from Berlin also in 1929. A story on the Wiesner company together with an interesting, well-illustrated article by Dutch collector  Jos Hocks was published in “The Postcard Album” issue 26.

Although these gramophone cards come along in postcard size, many appear to had been mailed in envelope. Probably to avaoid any (surface) damage of the disk. Any information on postally used cards prior to c. 1950 is much welcome.

Illustrated gramophone cards / Tuck card cover come from the collection of Jos Hocks, The Netherlands.

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