Among early Private Mailing Card publishers, A.O. and G.A. Kraemer of Cincinnati left their mark, publishing a full catalog of images.
Many today are memorialized at the Library of Congress, in history books, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and in personal collections.
Dealers and venues such as the online retailer eBay frequently feature Kraemer postcards, ranging in price from about 50 cents to more than $10. Some cards listed with the online spelling of “Kramer” may escape the attention of casual collectors.
The enterprising Kraemer brothers took advantage of Congressional authorization in May 1898 to enter the postcard field. The same year they published “Kraemer’s Picturesque Cincinnati” view book containing a number of images appearing on their postcards. This has been reprinted by the Ohio Book Co., Cincinnati, 1985. Both the book and Private Mailing Cards are identified by the initials “A.O. and G.A. Kraemer Publishers.”
Albert Otto and George A. Kraemer were born in Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio. Their parents were Otto and Christina, who came to Ohio from Germany in 1833. Barely out of his teens, A.O. arrived in Cincinnati about 1884 and took a job as a salesman with The Hanke Bros. Co., “importers and manufacturers, wholesale and retail, notions, dry goods and ready-to-wear.” A.O.’s association with Hanke continued until the early 1920s.
Ten years after arrival, A.O. and G.A., a tailor, entered the real estate business as Kraemer and Kraemer and both moved to the growing suburb of Hyde Park. They shared a centrally located business office in downtown Cincinnati in the impressive Johnston Building on Government Square.
About the time the government allowed the words “post card” on privately mailed postcards in 1901, the brothers began working independently and no longer had joint ventures. For a while, A.O. juggled three jobs — sales with Hanke, real estate and publishing.
After G.A. was on his own he published “Lancaster and Fairfield County, Ohio” in 1901. It includes pictures of A.O. and G.A.’s father, Otto, and their brother Gustavus [Gust or Gustav].
The Kraemer Art Co. first appeared in the Cincinnati city directory in 1902. From that time, Kraemer cards are identified by the company name rather than A.O.’s initials or name. In 1907, brother Gustav joined the company in sales. Soon he became secretary, with A.O. serving as president and treasurer. They left Government Square and moved the business to 111 E. Third Street, close to the wholesale district. By 1910, A.O. became known for publishing “souvenir postcards, books, calendars and post card albums.” He provided the illustrations for vol. 1 and 2 of Charles Frederic Goss’s well-known history, “Cincinnati, the Queen City 1788-1912.”
The Kraemer Art Company moved again in 1912 to 15 Pearl Street, among wholesalers and jobbers. The company listed itself as “photogravure manufacturers for the trade, art and reproductions, view books and post cards.” Gustav no longer worked for the company.
To see a public library collection of Kraemer postcards, visit www.cincinnatimemory.org.
End of Part I.
Esther H.M. Power is a freelance writer and postcard collector living in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Photos courtesy Esther H.M. Power
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