March 05, 2012

The “Humble” Post Card: The Ordinary “People’s” Communication Mode

One of the leading humor writers in Malayalam – Shri N Goplakrishnan – has defined a cardiologist as one who writes letters only on post “cards”! He describes himself as one of the leading cardiologists in his home town!
            There is a little magazine in Malayalam called “Innu” (meaning “today”) which is published only as a letter card. It has now entered the 30th year of its publication, with the letter card being posted more than 10,000 subscribers all over the world!!
            Here follows a collection of facts concerning the post card, the letter card and the art and science of Deiltology.


The Post Card
            In official terms, the post card can be defined as a type of open communication written on a card of prescribed size. The common dimensions of the card are 14  × 9 cm.
Post cards are commonly available in two varieties – either as a single card for just sending a communication or as a set of two attached cards – one for the outgoing communication and the other for the receiver of the card for immediately sending a reply. The replier cannot delay the return communication since the card has already been paid for by the initiator of the correspondence!
One of the little known information about the post card is that they can be used for transmission within India only. An individual or institution can also print cards for communication of messages among their staff or consumers. Such privately manufactured post cards should also follow the dimensions of the official post cards. They should not be thinner or more flexible than an embossed post card, and they should have the same size and thickness of embossed post card.
History of Indian Post Card
            The quarter anna post card was introduced for the first time by the Indian Post Office in July 1879. This was meant to provide postage from one place to another within British India. This was the cheapest form of post provided to the Indian people to date and proved a huge success.
The establishment of a large postal system spanning India resulted in unprecedented postal access where a message on a postcard could be sent from one part of the country to another part (often to a physical address without a nearby post office) without additional postage affixed. This was followed in April 1880 by postcards meant specifically for government use and by reply post cards in 1890. The postcard facility continues to this date in Independent India.
Post Cards Elsewhere
            The private postal card was developed by John P. Charlton of Philadelphia in 1861 for which he obtained the copyright which was later transferred to H.L. Lipman. The cards were adorned with a small border and labeled "Lipman's Postal Card, Patent Applied For".  They were on the market until 1873 when the first Government Postcards appeared.
The United States issued pre-stamped postal cards in 1873.  The United States Postal Service was the only one allowed to print the cards until May 19, 1898 when Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act which then allowed private firms to produce cards.  The private mailing cards cost one cent to mail instead of the letter rate which was two cents.  The term "Private Mailing Card" was required to be printed on cards that were not printed by the United States Postal Service.  Only the government was allowed to print the word "Postcard" on the back of postcards.  Private printers used the terms, Souvenir Card, Correspondence Cards and Mail Cards. 
Inland Letter Card
            The Inland Letter card is different from the post card in that here the communication is not open. In order to see what is written one will have to open the flaps of the inland letter card. What is written on a post card can be seen by every one who handles the card.
            Technically, the inland letter card is a communication contained on a sheet of paper with prescribed size & folding. Inland letter card is also used for transmission within India only. For sending messages to foreign countries one will have to make use of special inland letter cards of higher values called the aerogramme.
            The Malayalam magazine Innu (meaning today) is printed entirely on such an inland letter card. It contains every thing from poems to editorials to cartoons to letters to the editor that can be seen in a full size Dieltology
Deltiology is the study and collection of post cards. Professor Randall Rhoades of Ashland, Ohio, coined a word in 1945 that became the accepted description of the study of picture postcards.
Worldwide, deltiology is thought to be the third largest hobby after stamp collecting and coin/banknote collecting. Postcards are popular because just about every subject imaginable has been, at one time or another, pictured on a postcard.  History itself can be tracked on pos rgb(255, 255, 255);">One of the most popular specializations in&art forms, and many more subjects like these.
However, Compared to philately (the systematic collection of postage stamps), the identification of the place and time of production of a post card can often be an almost impossible task. This is mainly because postcards, unlike stamps, are produced in a largely unregulated manner.
Because of this many collectors often limit their acquisitions to cards by specific artists and publishers, or by time and location.
One of the most popular specializations in dieltology refers to town views. These refer to actual scenes from a particular town or region. Most of these collectors centre around the views of the town where the collector reside or the town where he or she grew up.
Preserving Your Post Card Collections – Some Tips
·         The major enemies of post cards are fire, humidity, dirt, sunlight, mold, and bugs. It is best to keep your collection safe in a deposit box, that is cool, dry and dark.
·         Do not use albums with plastic sleeves. This Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) substance will cause chemical damage to antique paper if left for long periods of time.
·         If descriptions of individual post cards have to be noted for exhibition purposes it must be ensured that it is done using pencil. Do not use tapes or such material to attach post cards to exhibition panels.
·         When exhibiting old post cards special care has to be taken that they are never exposed to direct sun light. (PIB Feature by Dr. K. Parameswaran.)

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