Table Structure Information

What is in the table columns? The first column called Postcard Title is the closest title I could come up from the postcard itself. The second column called Town is the location which is usually a city or town although some postcards, frequently scenic postcards, are between towns.

The third column is for what I am loosely referring to as the Publisher. Now, the word "Publisher" is ambiguous and means different things to different postcard collectors. There is a good discussion of semantics in the book Linen Postcards Images of the American Dream by Mark Werther and Lorenzo Mott. The authors chose not to use the word "Publisher" at all but rather break the process of making and providing linen postcards to the retailer or business operator into a "manufacturer" and a "distributor". The linen postcard manufacturer is the company that performed the actual printing. The authors document just 11 color linen postcard manufacturers in the United States: Curt Teich (the largest), Tichnor, Colourpicture, E.C Kropp, MWM, Nationwide, Metropolitan, Beals/Art Tone/Associated Litho, Eastern, Dexter, and Longshaw. The distributor was the company (or even a single salesman) that made the retail sales contact and contracted with a manufacturer to make the postcard. The distributor would then provide the linen postcards back to the client who ordered them. Most manufacturing companies had their own sales forces and they were usually both the manufacturer and the distributor. But companies, even though they had their own sales force, did contract work for distributors. For example, the Curt Teich company had a large sales force but they were only the manufacturer of most of the Fred Harvey series of linen postcards. Fred Harvey would be the distributor. And these Fred Harvey postcards, although they carried numbers like Curt Teich postcards, do not even say Curteich on them anywhere. Curteich was also the manufacturer of most (if not all) postcards from Western (see the table of California Route 66 linen postcards). Some distributors took client orders and then shopped the job to the different manufacturers and placed the order based upon cost or delivery or postcard quality. Sometimes only the distributor's name is printed on the postcard in which case to figure out who the manufacturer was you need to look for other clues, such as the number format, or what typefaces are used, or the way the word "POSTCARD" is printed, or the way the stamp box is arranged, etc. There were many distributors. Among Route 66 postcards we see frequently see E.B. Thomas and R.C. Shaul among the distributors. McGarr was a large distributor too and we can find McGarr postcards that were manufactured by Associated Litho that are of generally crummy quality, and postcards manufactured by other manufacturers that look much better. In many cases when a distributor's name appears on the postcard without the name of the manufacturer, the postcard will be printed as "Published by" so-and-so. So we have distributors calling themselves publishers. The whole thing is a mess. So here's the bottom line: this is all too complicated for this elementary web site so what I have done is merely list in the "Publisher" column a name that appears on the back side of the postcard. If there are two names on the back of the postcard, they will be the distributor (perhaps calling themselves the publisher) and the manufacturer. The distributor/publisher name is usually listed first followed by the manufacturer's name. I will usually list the first name on the postcard in the individual table.

As I mentioned above, authors Werther and Mott list 11 colored linen postcard manufacturers in their book, but this Route 66 web site also includes the black and white photo-based postcards that were printed on linen paper by National Press, and it also includes the sepia-toned postcards of Associate and Asco. Neither company appears in the Werther and Mott book since those authors did not consider these postcards to be true linen postcards.


This Log Cabin Camp postcard is a printed Sepia postcard.


This Deluxe Courts postcard is a black and white photo printed on linen cardstock.

The fourth column is the Number assigned to the postcard. A sepia printed postcard (see above left) has a tan background color in the number cell. A black and white photo printed on linen paper (see above right) has a dark gray background color in the number cell. A few postcards do not have numbers. Some postcards have two numbers. In this latter case I have listed one of the numbers, which I call the primary number, in the top space of the table cell and a secondary number between parentheses. And some postcards that have two numbers were sometimes printed in multiple versions. That is, there are postcards that have identical or nearly-identical artwork but usually a different back side that have the same primary manufacturer number but different secondary number(s). In these known cases I list all three manufacturer numbers in the table cell: the primary number without parentheses and the two secondary numbers inside parentheses. Only one or the other secondary number will appear on the postcard but not both. Also, for a few manufacturers, MWM being the most common, prefix or suffix letters were added to the number usually when the back side printing was changed and the front side artwork was not. I usually consider postcards with the same number but with or without the prefix letter or suffix letter as the same postcard. For example, an MWM postcard with the number 1367 usually has the same artwork as the MWM postcard with the number A-1367. Likewise, a postcard with the number 12,205 usually has the same artwork as the postcard with the number 12,205F. The number that I chose for the table cell is just the number that is on the postcard in the collection of whoever first told me about that postcard. But having said that there are a few table entries where the front artwork is quite a bit different so I have two entries. (Whew! Patience, please!)

The fifth column called Address may have other details about the location of the image on the postcard. If the postcard is from a business that is in a large enough city to have a street address printed on the postcard, I list the address as close as I can to the printing on the postcard itself, abbreviations and punctuation and all. Sometimes there are just highway designations and I may include these or may not. (I have not been too consistent here.) If an address is not printed on the postcard but some other source places the business at a certain address, I may add that address within square brackets like this [ ]. Now, many linen postcards of, say, motels did not have street addresses printed on them when they were published (1930s to early 1950s) since they were on the outskirts of the towns and beyond any street numbering systems that may have existed then in the core of the town. But now such business, should they still exist, will most likely have street addresses but I rarely include these new addresses in the tables. (I suppose I could but it would take a lot of time to gather this information.)

The sixth and seventh columns are used for additional notes about the postcard. The word "Picture" in a light blue box in the seventh column is a clickable link that will take you to an actual image of that postcard.