How Long Have Postcards Been Used for Advertising?

The production of postcards for advertisement has a long history that is continued into the 21st century. The production of postcards for marketing or collection plays a major role in contemporary cultural expression.

Both postcard and business card printing have been used as advertising for over a century. Postcards in particular have been used extensively in the theatrical industry to promote stars and events. The development of photography and custom postcard printing services led to an explosion in this form of marketing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

How did Postcards Develop?

With the development of a postal system in the 1840s in England, several prototypes of postcards were sent through the mail. An English writer called Theodore Hook received a card with an image of postal workers on it that year. This is thought to be the earliest example of a postcard.

It is generally agreed that the patent for private postcards was developed by John P Charlton, an American, in 1861. By 1873 there were many of these postcards on the market.
The first advertising postcard originated in England in 1872. As the century progressed and photography developed, more complicated images started to appear on postcards. It is said that the completion of the Eiffel Tower in the late 1880s and the mass production of its image was an impetus for the development of the picture postcard.

By the 1890s postcards were being produced by several companies and sent by the thousands.

Australian Theatrical Postcards

The production of postcards in Australia was immense in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The picture postcard which featured a photograph of a well known actor or actress was tremendously popular. They were a preferred form of advertising by theatrical entrepreneurs and gave audiences access to their favourite stars.

Postcards in Australia were sent to friends and relatives. Young ladies collected them, and gentlemen sent them to girls as flirtation. In some cases the messages were risqué or cheeky, in others they were in code, so that no snooping postal worker could read the private information.

Postcards were popular in the past because there were fewer means of advertisement. However, they remain popular today because of their colourful and portable nature. Many people collect postcards of the past and the present, and they are known as deltiologists. There are organisations in Australia devoted to deltiology and it is thought to be the third most popular collector activity in the world behind stamp and coin collecting.

Advertising Postcards Today

Postcards today are useful advertising tools for business. Their portable nature and attractive exterior can encourage people to purchase goods or services. The continued use of postcards to advertise events is part of a long tradition that goes back over a 100 years.

Postcards are a beautiful complement to more traditional forms of advertising, such as business card printing and should be considered as an essential component of a marketing plan.

The production of postcards for advertisement has a long history that is continued into the 21st century. Printing services continue to produce beautiful examples of the art. The production of postcards for marketing or collection plays a major role in contemporary cultural expression.

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