Kraemer postcards leave historic legacy – Part II

This is the second in a two-part series on Kraemer Company postcards of Cincinnati, Ohio. In the first part [published in the Feb. 3 issue] we learned the Kraemer Art Co. became famous for producing  private mailing cards among others. Collectors pursue Kraemer’s souvenir cards featuring important buildings, street scenes and skylines. Part I is available by clicking HERE. We left off with writer/researcher Esther H.M. Power reviewing how the Kraemer Company planned for a large expansion in 1912.
– Editor

To advertise, A.O. used sample postcards and stationery with various messages. One undated company envelope announced, “Local View Post Card Manufacturing Our Specialty. Largest Variety of Stock Post Cards of any One Firm in America. 25,000 varieties from all parts of the world.” One postcard claimed, “This Hand Color Card is superior to any on the market.”

Although best known for view cards, A.O. sent sales representatives to call on customers such as druggists and book store owners “with latest novelties of everything conceivable in Souvenir Post Cards,” including those for “Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year Cards and Booklets.” Another sample card declares: “Our company are Pioneers in Post Cards and Since 1898 have manufactured millions of cards for satisfied customers.” Most Kraemer view cards focus on Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

An unusual advertising card A.O. sent was a 1908 or 1909 postally used one picturing himself standing behind a Spanish American War cannon shooting out post cards with the tag line, “The Man Behind the Gun of Kraemer Post Card Co. of Cincinnati.” Puzzling is why Kraemer used “Kraemer Post Card Co. of Cincinnati,” which doesn’t square with “Kraemer Art Company.” Perhaps it was used as an identification rather than official company name.

One of Kraemer’s competitors in Chicago, Curt Teich & Co. Inc., claimed on one of its 1911 copyrighted sample cards that it was the “largest manufacturer of colored views in America.”

The 1913 Ohio River flood reached Pearl Street and boats became the chief means of transportation. Whether the Kraemer company suffered any damage is unknown, but the company issued at least six different postcards of Pearl Street under water.

The war years followed the flood and it wasn’t easy being German in Cincinnati. German street names were replaced, German books were banned from the library, and German newspapers were prohibited. During the early war years for reasons unknown, A.O. joined with his friend George Schorr of George Schorr Co. at 1 Pearl Street.

Schorr advertised a wide range of goods on the side of his business visible from the street, touting the availability of merchandise including suspenders, other clothing and general ranch goods. By 1922, George Schorr owned the Kraemer Art Company. A.O. died in 1926, a widower with no children. Brother Gustav predeceased him and G.A. outlived him.

The Schorr family kept the company name until the mid-1950s, with one last address at 18 Pearl Street. It was Schorr who published the view book, “Cincinnati Ohio Gateway to the South” in 1928 under the Kraemer name using many Kraemer postcard pictures. More recent white border cards and most Kraemer linens were published during Schorr ownership.

Kraemer cards are found from each of the generally accepted post card eras: Private Mailing Card Era (1898-1901); Undivided Back Era (1901-1907); Divided Back Era (1907-1915); White Border Era (1915-1930); and Linen Era (1930-1945).

Through the years, the company changed the size, placement and decorated type style for the words “Post Card.” More important, as a key to the sequence of publication, there were a few major design shifts in artwork on card backs.

On some undivided back cards, the company introduced an eagle with open wings standing on two furled flags. On the left card edge is printed “Kraemer Art Co. Publishers Cincinnati USA-Leipzig.” Leipzig was a famous German printing center for several centuries. Not all standing eagles are marked “Leipzig” but “Made in Germany” appears somewhere on the cards.

Following the standing eagle, Kraemer used a gliding eagle on two furled flags, and it is found mostly on divided backs. “Made in Germany” or “Printed in Germany” is commonly seen, but “Leipzig” found with a gliding eagle is unusual.

The first real logo combined the company name with an artist’s palette holding paint brushes through the thumb hole and the words “Kraemer Art Co.” in an arc above the palette and below the words “Cincinnati-Berlin” and “Printed in Germany.” Again, the German city is only on some and has been seen on a few cards with no logo.

Next the company modified the logo by incorporating the Kraemer Art Company name within the design — instead of above the palette. The word “Cincinnati” appears beneath the logo and any reference to Germany has been eliminated.

One detail not to overlook on these cards is to notice that two or three “n’s” in Cincinnati have “tails” or embellishments. In the 1940s and 1950s, the tails were removed and the logo in the upper left of the card back was reduced in size.

When George Schorr Co. and the Kraemer Art Company signs came down with the demolition of 18 Pearl Street in 1957, the 55 years of the Kraemer Art Co. came to an end. A picture of the building taken a month prior to its removal is at the Cincinnati Historical Society in the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Today, appreciation for Kraemer cards grows, especially for the early “Made in Germany” ones.


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