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Post Card Collecting
Presentation to the Annandale History Club
March 5, 2012
Steve Briggs
Post Card History

Steve Briggs sent a copy of his booklet,“A Postcard History of Clearwater Lake,” to the Annandale History Club.  Steve and his wife Becky are members of the Twin City Postcard Club. They are also volunteers at the Sibley County Historical Society.

Steve became interested in postcards at the age of eight or ten.  His father was a traveling salesman, and sent postcards home, and young Steve, one of seven children, became “keeper of the postcards.”  Steve went away to college, his mom threw away the postcards, and it wasn’t until much later that he revived his interest in postcard collecting.  His collection focuses on the following:  Clearwater Lake, because his grandparents had a cabin at Clearwater Lake at Annandale from 1953 to the early 1960s, and Steve spent a lot of time there; Ipswich, S.D., because his dad was born and raised there until age 15; Elk River, Minn., because that’s where his dad moved; Glencoe, Minn., because that is his mom’s hometown; and Gustavus Adolphus College, Steve and Becky’s alma mater.  Becky collects postcards of LaFayette, Minn., because her mother and father were raised there.  Becky also collects holiday postcards and displays them at their home during the various holiday seasons.  Steve scans the postcards and makes booklets, because they are easier to look at and he can share the booklets with historical societies.  It also helps preserve the original postcards.

Twin City Postcard Club

The hobby of postcard collecting is called deltiology and a postcard collector is a deltiologist.  Steve and Becky are members of the Twin City Postcard Club.  The club has monthly meetings where members “buy, sell and trade postcards with other collectors, learn more about cards through interesting programs and discussions with other collectors, and learn how to organize collections, get supplies, and more.”  Members also have the use of the extensive club library books about postcards.  There are two large Twin City Postcard Club shows each year.  Steve and Becky buy their postcards at shows and also on eBay.  Postcards can cost 50 cents up to $10 and more.

Popular Postcard Topics

Railroad Depots – Depots are the most popular and probably the most expensive to collect.  They are hard to find.                                                 

Main Streets - People especially love their home towns.  Some try to find a main street photo of every single town.  Steve had a 1903 postcard of Annandale’s main street in his PowerPoint presentation.                           

Exaggerations – Examples are fishermen with huge fish and county fair postcards with people sitting on giant corn cobs.  Steve wondered how these were made before computers and photo shop.  He also had postcards with a rabbit the size of a deer, and a cauliflower that filled a truck bed with the caption, “The kind we raise in our state.”   There are also postcards with street cars on small town main streets.    

People – Group photos of one-room school children, casts of plays, bands, family photos, friends photos, people in front of houses and farms are all on postcards.  It’s fun to look for people you know.  Steve has found postcards with his grandfather in a school group and in a play, and also a postcard of a building in Glencoe his grandfather owned.                  

Some of the most unusual collections Steve has heard about are “cows standing in water” and “diving horses,” which proves you can collect postcards on almost any topic.

Clearwater Lake Collection

So far Steve has 50 Clearwater Lake postcards.  His collection includes resorts:  Longworth’s, Narrow’s, Beecher’s, Lafayette, Shadduck’s, Marvin Inn, Kamp Kool, Murray Inn, Bungalow Island Inn and Cofields.  He also has postcards entitled Towsley’s Point, Outlet at Kemp’s, Landing at Danielson’s, Joncas Landing, Lake Shore Drive, Boat Landing at Golf Course, the Narrows, Camp Friendship, and other Clearwater Lake scenes.   He also has cartoon postcards with the caption, “Greetings from Clearwater Lake, Annandale, Minn.”  Several people brought their postcard collections to the presentation, and one person had many Clearwater Lake postcards that Steve hadn’t seen before (Glendale Club, Tuelle’s Resort, and different views of the Narrows, Bungalow Island, and Murray Inn).

Steve once purchased a 1910 Clearwater Lake postcard, only to learn that it was the Clearwater Lake that was later renamed Lake Waconia.

Clearwater Lake Resorts/Hotels/Inns

Postcard History

The United States first printed postal cards with a printed postage stamp in 1873.  The most popular era of postcards is 1910, plus or minus a few years.  Many of the postcards of that era were made in Germany and looked like water color paintings.  The backs of the 1901 to 1907 postcards were undivided and only the address was allowed.  You were not allowed to write a message on the back. These postcards often had a small area in the margin at the bottom or side of the front of the postcard to write a message.   These older postcards are not necessarily more valuable.  Later, the backs of postcards were divided for a message on the left and the address on the right.  The oldest postcards that Steve has in his collection are dated August 25, 1906.  They are three postcards from the same person, to the same addressee, on the same date.  The postage is one cent.

Some 1915 to 1930 postcards have a white border.  This allowed the printer to save money by using less ink.  Linens were popular from 1915 to 1945.  These linen-like cards tended to be water colored.  Millions were made and sold for ten cents each.  Examples of linen cards that Steve showed were the Minnesota State Capitol, Minneapolis skyline, and an aerial photo of the St. Cloud Hospital in the 1940s.  Chromes (high gloss, color photos) were popular 1945 to 1970.   Chrome postcard examples that Steve showed were Gustavus Adolphus scenes, including the entrance, chapel, a dormitory, and Old Main, the original building on campus.

Postcards were usually sold at drugstores.  L.R. Williams, Annandale pharmacist, was the publisher of some of the postcards in Steve’s collection.  In the early 1900s local photographers offered postcards in their photography packages. 

Ken Rudolph has a card in his collection with an artist’s rendering of a man and woman in an automobile with the caption, “You auto be in St. Cloud, Minn.”  Steve has the exact postcard except for “…auto be in Glencoe, Minn.”  This is very common.  Steve purchased two postcards with a photograph of the identical farm scene.  One said Ipswich, South Dakota, and the other North Dakota. 

Notes by Annandale History Club Secretary