Questions Never Asked at the Nudist Camp

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Editor’s Staff

Questions Never Asked
at the Nudist Camp

  • “Hello, Mrs. Jones, is that a new dress, you’re wearing?”
  • “Hey, Joe, do you have an empty pocket?”
  • “Did you hear that the camp director is thinking about a required dress code?”

Certainly, this has happened to every collector. You are searching for one of your topics and suddenly there is a card on a topic that you never thought to collect, or you may not want to collect, but you buy the card just for a laugh or something to talk about at the next club meeting. One such topic is nudist camps.

Nudism, in general terms is a “socially acceptable exercise” of going without clothes. Those who are interested in the practice are a relatively small percentage of the population and they seem to gather in rural preserves or in private and excluded parks. River edges and lake areas are particular favorites.

Nudists, who are often called naturists, shun clothing for many reasons, mostly relating to health and comfort. As a nudist in a social environment, most who practice nudism interact in common norms that do not involve gender related activity.

Nudist camping is rare in America for the simple reason that camping requires the camper to protect themselves from the weather, wild animals, insect bites, and more. If you wear no belt there is no place to tie your umbrella. You have no pockets to carry bear-spray or your “Off” insect repellent. However, none of this stops the cartoonist or comic illustrator from making “fun” of the nudist camps and the campers.

Nudist camp postcards are rare, however there is one set, published by the CardCo division of the ANL Publishing Company, © 1955, sponsored by the American Sunbather Magazine. There are 20 cards in the set. Some samples follow:

Germany is where it all began in the very early years of the twentieth century. People were ready for rebellion against the strict moral standards of the Victorian Era of the late-1800s. The first known nudist camp was called a Freilichtpark (“Free Light Park”), it appeared around 1903 near Hamburg.

Nudism grew throughout Europe after the first world war and crossed the Atlantic in the 1930s. In America and Canada associations called “physical culture organizations” gathered to practice and promote nudism. Throughout north America the practice has been restricted to a few secluded camps and beaches. The mood in the camps is deliberately social and most are governed by strict rules of conduct.

Postcard collectors on both sides of the Atlantic are likely to find “the odd-card” that has a nudist camp theme, (frequently described as a saucy-seaside-comic) like the Donald McGill card here, but they are uncommon in collections of vintage cards.

Although public nudity on European beaches, is socially acceptable, it is not widely acceptable in America.  

Both male and female swim wear in America has likely reached the minimum, however from many beachside interviews at the “college Spring break” time of year, it can be assumed that most of the minimalist suits never get wet. There are still very few places where Cupid-Style swimsuits are used.

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Delightful article. I submitted a “Clothing Optional” album in the Metropolitan Postcard Club annual album competition last year and compiled it just in the nick of time. For about 2 years depictions and sale of full-frontal nudes on postcards are no longer allowed on eBay. Depictions of nude children, whether photographs or drawn, are even more strictly prohibited–some of those cards are disturbing to say the least. I was most interested in nudism/naturalism vs eroticism (the category most nudes end up and which I have no desire to own) but have to admit there is no fine line between the… Read more »

Been to a nudist beach in Jamaica, but have not collected these.

There are two nudist camps in Roselawn, Indiana, although they’re not promoted along the stretch of Interstate 65 that passes through the community.

In 1977 an Australian softcover was published which contained 126 pages. Erotic Postcards was authored by Barbara Jones and William Ouellette.

Exotic Postcards, The Lure of Distant Lands, was released as a 209 page hardcover in 2007.

Additional reading for those with time to do so.

Past Article

Tony Crumbley

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Once again postcards document a topical history from the founding of our nation to the present. This time a glimpse of education in North Carolina is presented with eleven rare cards showing historically black colleges and universities.

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