A collection of postcard images documenting the golden age of flowing artesian wells across the United States and the world, generally from the early 1900s and with a bias toward Texas. Also included, from time to time, are other water-related postcards.


The Portal to Texas History

How old is that post card?

  • The first commercial postcards produced in this country were sold at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago Illinois in 1893.  These were the first privately printed souvenir postcards.  So, this should be as early as you will find for United States postcards.
  • Does your card have the words "Private Mailing Card, Authorized by Act of Congress on May 19, 1898" on the back?   The words "Post Card" were not printed on postcards until December 24, 1901.  Cards previous to that had to have the Private Mailing Card Statement.  So, if your card is marked "Private Mailing Card," is dates from 1893 - 1901.
  • Is the address side divided?  A divided back postcard has a line down the middle, or some other indication that one half of the back is for the address and the other half is for a message.  Early postcards had an undivided back.  The back of the postcard was for the address ONLY.  There was often a statement that said "this side for address only."  The postal service started allowing the use of divided back postcards in March of 1907.  So, if your postcard has an undivided back, it is from 1907 or earlier.
  • Does the postcard back indicate that it was printed in Germany? Many early postcards were printed in Germany.  The German cards were of exceptional quality and are some of the best examples of old postcards available.  However, World War I shut down the German printing presses and cards started being printed in the United States or imported from Great Britain.  If your early postcard says it was printed in Germany, it is from before 1915.
  • Is there a white border around the picture? The White Border era dates from 1915 to 1930.
  • Does the picture have a texture like woven linen? Postcards from 1930 to 1944 were printed on a linen texture paper.  They also used brightly colored inks.
  • Does the postcard have a shiny finish on the front, with a color photographic image? Photochrome postcards have been produced from 1945 to present. 
  • For real photo post cards (what the cool kids call RPPCs):

old maps online

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