Send me a Postcard: Deltiologists old and new celebrating National Postcard Week May 5-11

By Barbara Andrews

“Send me a postcard.”

My father said that to every friend and customer in his drug store whenever a trip was mentioned. And so my little shoebox of postcards grew with his support.

If no one knows about your hobby, you may be missing opportunities to add great cards to your collection.

“My Hero,” artist signed Harrison Fisher, published by Reinthal & Newman, N.Y., for Cosmopolitan Magazine, divided back, F-VF. $20. (Photo courtesy Cherryland Auctions)

“My Hero,” artist signed Harrison Fisher, published by Reinthal & Newman, N.Y., for Cosmopolitan Magazine, divided back, F-VF. $20. (Photo courtesy Cherryland Auctions)

Postcard collectors today know how important it is to promote and enrich the hobby. For that reason, many enthusiastically support National Postcard Week (NPCW), the first week of May every year.  The emphasis of this event is not only to generate interest and send postcards but to create them.

Anyone can participate.

All that’s needed is an original design that includes NPCW, the date, and the name of the individual or club producing it. The quality of the art, the printing, and the paper stock may vary, but everyone can share in the fun of trading or selling their creation for a modest sum. Many pass through the mail in envelopes, but it’s even nicer to get an appropriate postmark on the card itself.

Undoubtedly some early collectors came up with the idea of a week devoted to postcards, but the first two people who acted on it in recent years were my friend Louise Northam (1914-2012), also known as Kazoo Lou when she sold postcards, and Nevada postcard artist Ann Rusnak (deceased 1998). They sent out the first modern postcard week cards in the early 1980s.

Either their enthusiasm was contagious, or others were thinking along the same lines. Approximately 30 years ago, four collector/dealers, John McClintock, Roy Cox, DeeDee Parker, and Richard Novick, established NPCW as an annual event to promote the hobby of postcard collecting. They were helped in their efforts by the IFPD (postcard dealers), Postcard Collector Magazine (now defunct), and Barr’s Post Card News, which still pictures cards made for the event with information about trading or buying.

There are several good reasons to participate in the annual event and collect the postcards designed for it. The first is, of course, to promote the hobby and encourage those who go to the time and expense of producing original limited edition postcards. A card featuring a topic of local interest is a great conversation piece and a way of making a community

Bill Sumner advises us to “Have a rockin’ good time!” on this Elvis Presley Solid Gold Cadillac postcard. (Photo courtesy Bill Sumner)

Bill Sumner advises us to “Have a rockin’ good time!” on this Elvis Presley Solid Gold Cadillac postcard. (Photo courtesy Bill Sumner)

aware of postcard collecting as a major hobby.

Think of making a display for a library, school, or retail business Secondly, we all make friends within the hobby through clubs, mail exchanges, shows, and publications. While I don’t collect NPCW postcards as a topic, I do treasure cards made by those whose paths

I’ve crossed in my many years of collecting. My small hoard is a virtual who’s who of lovely people who have shared my enthusiasm for postcards over the years. Regardless of whether a card is a simple black and white design or a full-color production, each has a personal stamp. I still smile when I look at the early cards from Louise and Ann, and I was inspired to make my own button-face cards by Joan Gentry’s 1998 postcard week card. She added a small button with a face painted on it to her printed card, using the holes as eyes. This is just one example of the creativity generated by NPCW.

Even those who aren’t sentimental about friends’ creations can enjoy the professional art on choice NPCW postcards. The number one favorite among people who purchase individualized designs is Rick Geary, a talented modern artist best known for his work in comic books and graphic novels. Hal Ottaway and the Wichita Postcard Club were pioneers in commissioning his work for a number of designs. Geary continues to be the artist of choice for his outstanding work on a number of NPCW postcards.

Real photo postcards are often an unclouded view directly into the past. The Knapstein Brewery was a major figure in New London, Wis. (Photo courtesy Karen Knapstein)

Real photo postcards are often an unclouded view directly into the past. The Knapstein Brewery was a major figure in New London, Wis. (Photo courtesy Karen Knapstein)

Edward Gorey (1925-2000) is another outstanding illustrator who appeared on a limited number of postcards. Andreas Brown of the Gotham Book Mart in New York City was a tireless promoter of Gorey’s work and also of postcards in general, so it’s not surprising he used this artist’s designs on NPCW cards. Besides books, Gorey’s art has  been used on a number of products and was the basis for the animated opening to the PBS ‘Mystery’ series.

National Post Card Week has some stars, but it’s still anyone’s game.

Do you have an artistic friend, a grandchild who loves to draw, or a yen to do something creative yourself? Are you proficient enough on the computer to design and print your own cards? Self-publishing has never been easier, even if you use a professional for the printing.

The best reason of all for participating in NPCW is because it’s fun!

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