In 1869 Dr. Emmanuel Hermann persuaded the Austrian Postal Authorities to accept his small, thin, buff card with the address and an embossed, engraved stamp on one side and space for a message on the reverse. In 1870 the British and Swiss Postal Authorities accepted a similar design.
The development of the vintage postcard
The postal card was conceived for business purposes to confirm orders, deliveries, and receipts, and to act as a reminder, and was accepted and collected as part of the philatelic tradition.
In Europe, however, the message side also carried an illustration, and these became increasingly elaborate and colourful.
A new chromolithographic printing process which enabled cheaper color printing developed in Germany and Austria during this period and these cards excited much interest among the public.
In 1894 publishers finally gained the right to print their own postcards, but these "court cards" were narrower than the continental cards.
The bigger images and extra message space of the latter were still more popular.
The popularity of the picture postcard through time
When postcards first appeared, they were mocked as being fit only for the illiterate and vulgar, reflecting Victorian attitudes.
Nevertheless, society was changing, and even members of the Royal Families used and collected postcards.
In 1904 came an important design modification the divided back. The address on the right and a message on the left.
The astronomical sales of cards continued until the outbreak of WW I when the collecting of cards became less popular. Cards sales fell, but their diversity was retained.
The postcard has the ability to document social change and reflect our outlook means that cards both give pleasure and reveal much about our lives.
Sending postal cards less popular?
Nowadays less and less postcards are sold, especially due to the rise of the internet. Holiday photos and congratulations are now easily shared via social media.
1890 - 1910 was the golden era of postcards and some of the vintage old postcards printed than are expensive today.
For those with restricted budgets, there are, however, plenty of collectable postcards.