October 7, 2021

Diane Allmen

Dating Dexter Press Postcards

Thomas Dexter opened a print shop in Park Ridge, New Jersey in 1920.  When that original location proved too small in 1928, the business moved to Pearl River, New York.

In the 1930s, Dexter was printing linen cards and some hand-colored ones. In more recent times, most of us know Dexter Press for its natural color postcards that came from his plant in West Nyack, New York after 1952.

I purchased the Dexter Press archives and geographical location file in the 1980s as they were going out of business. Since then, I have sold Dexter cards at shows, eBay, and other auction sites. In 2019, I got serious about selling them on eBay to individuals. The cards range in age from the 1950s to the1980s.

There are more than one million Dexter Press postcards in my inventory and for a long time, I have had an interest in documenting the publishing dates of these cards. Now is the time to get them out there to folks who have memories of the great places and times depicted.

Dexter Press cards come in many sizes including the standard 3½ x 5½ inches and the continental 4 x 6 inches. Many of the advertising, hotel, and restaurant cards are 5½ x 7 inches and giant advertising cards are 6 x 9 inches.

Over several years I developed the chart below to date most Dexter postcards. The card number is on the back in either the lower left corner or the upper right corner near the stamp box. Some 1950s cards may have the number in the lower center of the address side.

As I went through the cards, I found many that had publishing dates in the lower left corner and began documenting these dates in a table with the Dexter Press numbers.

The content of the photos and types of cardstocks used also helped with dating. Those from the 1950s were printed on heavier cardstock, have a flatter finish, and many are marked with the Dextone Printing Process statement. Dextone paper was marked with Kodachrome & Ansco Color by Dexter Press, Pearl River, New York.

Dexter cards printed from 1950 to 1957 are numbered sequentially

Around 1960, Dexter changed its process to the high gloss finishes for which chromes are now known. I am still sorting through cards which are in boxes by the Dexter Press inventory numbers. It will take several more years to get through them all.

00001 to 99999 with no letter following

1950-1951      #00001-39999 with no letter following
1951                #40000-59999
1952-53          #60000s
1954                #70000s
1955                #80000s
1956-57          #90000
1957                5 digit number with an A following
1958                #1-10000-Bs
1959                #20000-Bs
1960                #30000-Bs
1961                #40000-Bs
1962                #50000-Bs
1963                #60000-Bs
1964                #70000-B to 99999-Bs
1965                #0-C to 9999-C
1966                #10000-Cs
1967                #20000-Cs
1968                #30000-Cs to 49999-C (still looking for more data)
1969                #50000-Cs
1970                #60000-Cs
1971-74           #70000-C to 99999-C
1975-1983      #00001-D to 99999-D

Data on the – D and – E cards will be available in the future. Watch this space for updates and expansion and improvement of this chart.

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This is incredibly helpful, and has allowed me to assign solid dates to a number of cards in the museum where I work. Many thanks!

This article will help me appreciate my Dexter Press cards more the next time I get to work on my collection.

Very Helpful! ~ Wolfs Vintage Postcards

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