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Early American Postcards: a review

Early American Postcards (1868-1901): a comprehensive guide, catalog, and market values for pioneer, & private mailing card postcards by Dr. Daniel Friedman:

A Review

Timothy Van Staden, Ph.D,
at home in New England, USA

The author’s forward announces that “Every postcard pictured in this book is over 100 years old.” For the reader who is not a postcard collector, a first glance suggests to him that he is facing an overwhelming challenge. The dimensions of this collector’s guide are staggering. Over four-hundred pages of text, data and illustrations (all monochrome) denote a level of dedication unequalled in the world of collector’s manuals.

The parts, there are four, used to sub-divide the period of coverage (1868 to 1901) are very well delineated and are attended by historical perspectives that take the readers back to times yet to be included in the usual history texts.

The author’s command of topics ancillary to his passion for postcards demonstrates months, years, or perhaps decades of study. His command of detail and minutia is common throughout. No reader could come away complaining that he could not find what he wanted to learn.

The highly annotated copy provided for this review offered additional informative content and in some cases corrected textual errors and typos. I do not hesitate to point out that very few such cases were observed.

The illustrations, of which that are hundreds, facilitate the mindset the reader will understandably develop. They also aid in the conceptual attitudes the reader would develop while endeavoring to learn an until now unknown field of study.

Particularly interesting chapters include those devoted to Livermore & Knight Company of Providence, Rhode Island and the Detroit Publishing Company of Detroit, Michigan. This reviewer makes these suggestions for he has at least seen and consequently recognized some of the included illustrations.

There is little to suggest that the reader could in several lifetimes accumulate the vast array of cards presented in this volume, but for the avid enthusiast it may be a wonderful dream to do so and a colossal achievement if accomplished.

I enjoyed Early American Postcards far more than most collectors’ handbooks. The incalculable variety and the width of topics mesmerized me, but not enough to start my own collection.

There are some flaws, but not so to distract from its value. My rating: 5 stars.

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