The Color of Linen America

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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We’ve all seen and held them at Aunt Fanny’s house or flea markets and swap meets. From the 1930s through the 1940s, brightly colorized linen postcards with views of a faux painterly American landscape were the most popular kind of “wish you were here” sentiments. They looked great and felt special. Collectors today avidly acquire these romanticized views, of which millions were sold, everything from restaurants and hotels to deserts and mountains to towns and cityscapes. Esteemed popular historian Jeffrey L. Meikle’s new book brings the process, aesthetic and the inventor, Curt Teich, together in a document that is bound to do to the reader what the postcards did to the receiver—light up their world.

Here is the publisher’s description (for more, go here): Postcard America offers the first comprehensive study of these cards and their cultural significance. Drawing on the production files of Curt Teich & Co. of Chicago, the originator of linen postcards, Jeffrey L. Meikle reveals how photographic views were transformed into colorized postcard images, often by means of manipulation—adding and deleting details or collaging bits and pieces from several photos. He presents two extensive portfolios of postcards—landscapes and cityscapes—that comprise a representative iconography of linen postcard views. For each image, Meikle explains the postcard’s subject, describes aspects of its production, and places it in social and cultural contexts. In the concluding chapter, he shifts from historical interpretation to a contemporary viewpoint, considering nostalgia as a motive for collectors and others who are fascinated today by these striking images.

(pg 2) _Sahuaro National Monument, near Tucson, Arizona,_ Teich 6A-H715, 1936
(pg 110) _Echo River 360 Feet Underground in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky_ Teich OB-H147, 1941
(pg 114) _A Breaker on Atlantic Ocean_ Teich 3A-H1205, 1934
(pg 212) _Cherry picking scene, Door County, Wisconsin_ Teich 5A-H2681, 1935
(pg 302) _San Francisco Night View, Bay Bridge and Battleship Searchlights and Lights of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda in Distance_ Teich 8A-H2813, 1938
(pg 406) _General Motors Building, Chicago World's Fair_ Teich 3A-H659, 1933
(pg 300) _Midtown New York City 'The Great White Way,' As Seen from the Empire State Building Observatory at Night, New York City_ Teich 5A-H654, 1935