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Linen Postcards: A Growing Obsession

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/7/2007 | Hobbies

While vintage postcard collecting has always been very popular, one of the quickest rising interests in this hobby just might be collecting Linen Postcards. Linen postcards' obvious appeal is their artistic colorful style, multitude of subjects along with a relatively low cost.

Linen postcards are easily identifiable by the type of high rag card stock they were printed on which was produced with a linen finish; a textured pattern distinguished by parallel and intersecting lines resembling linen cloth. The face of the card was the textured side and the reverse was smooth just like other postcards. Due to the use of this paper, linen postcards could be printed with brighter inks creating vibrantly colored images making them a huge advancement over the earlier white border postcards.

Linen postcards' heyday was from the years of the 1930's when they were introduced through 1945. They were the principal kind of postcard made during this time because of emerging equipment. It allowed production of linen postcards to be more economical in view of the fact that printing costs in Europe were becoming prohibitive because of tariffs. In the beginning, linens maintained the white border look along the edges of the card. Gradually disappearing as manufacturers started printing the image all the way to the card's edge.

Somewhere around 1939, Photochrome or "chrome" postcards came into existence as new advancements became available. Chrome postcards gained popularity after 1945 and linen postcard manufacturers either changed over to this new technology or closed shop. However, some linen postcards were still produced until the late 1950's and early 60's.

One of the best-known publishing firms of quality linen postcards was Curt Teich. Although the company originated back in 1898, they gained recognition with their imaginative depictions used on their linen postcards. One type of card that proved very popular even to this day was their "Large Letter" postcard that spelled out the name of a location, such as, a city or state. Inside over-sized, three-dimensional letters were contained little pictures depicting various aspects of the card's topic.

Linen Postcard's subject matter runs the gamut from interiors to town and scenic views to buildings to comic. Some of the more sought after topics are roadside establishments like motels, diners, bus and gas stations. Clearly linen postcards are reminiscent of a specific and significant era of American culture providing the collector with a warm sense of nostalgia.

Advantages in collecting linen postcards are that they are readily available and reasonably priced. Due to their considerable number, it is recommended that the collector focus on obtaining cards in mint condition with attractive topics, which should be reasonably easy. Thus allowing a collector with a limited budget to establish a beautiful and possibly a substantial collection.