Greetings from...... or The charm of postcards / Ruud W. van Wijnen [HBG 38]
The Greetings from..
or The charm of postcards.
Ruud W. van Wijnen.
Pict. 1. Gr?s Mitau. Early lithographic picture postcard, 1896.
We send each other fewer and fewer cards. We phone, fax or e-mail each other nowadays. Only at Christmas do we send cards wishing each other well and from our holiday-destination do we like to tell others that we are fine. So we have fewer and fewer cards and that is a pity, because they do have their charm for philatelists.
Therefore I would like to tell something about it and relate it to postal history in this article.
Cards and cards.
There are many kinds of cards. Characteristic is of course the fact that they are not in an envelope and that because of that "everybody" can read what is in it. Later more about this. The word used most often is "postcard", a collective notion which in fact only refers to cards with an imprinted stamp. The best word for this is postal stationary (pict.2).
Pict. 2 1881. Russian postal stationary (Mi. P5) from Liepaja to Rostock
Should the sender stick a stamp himself, we talk about a postal formula card (pict.3). In general the sender writes his message on the card and sends it at a reduced rate.
If the sender wishes to send a lot of the same cards, he can have them printed. That does not only save writing-time, but also changes his card in "printed matter", and this is often even cheaper to send. In this case you can talk about a printed paper.
Pict. 3 Postal formula card published by the Post and Telegraphdistrict of Riga, via field post office 158 sent to Limbazi, 1916.
Then there is also the picture postcard used to wish the sick person a speedy recovery, by the traveller to say where he is and to wish a long and happy life on someone's birthday. If the sender sends his regards on it in only a few words,these cards, too, can be sent at the lowest rate. I prefer to use the term 'greeting card' for this card. Picture postcard I only use for cards with representations of cities, villages and landscapes.
I give this explanation not only for the sake of a pure use of language, but also because there are really two categories of post with their own rates.
A bit of history.
For centuries merchants, noblemen, councillors and other authorities have sent their letters well enclosed. The privacy of correspondence was literally sealed, sealing-wax took care that their post was nor read by uninvited persons. Later on in history the envelope provided a suitable protection. The idea for an "open" postal stationary met at first with objections of a moral nature: the sender might send, to be read by anyone, indecent or otherwise improper communications. But in 1869 it happened, after all, in Austria-Hungary, Russia followed in 1872 with the first , the Open Letter. In a footnote the postal administration stated not to be responsible for what the sender had written ....
Up to World War I 28 pieces of postal stationary appeared (lit.1). Collecting those stamps of places in Baltic governments offers various possibilities for a fine collection.
Cards became popular as a means of correspondence: they were cheaper than a letter and because of the limited room the sender could be brief and to the point. Moreover, there came more and more people at the end of the 19th century who could read and write.
For a long time the Russian government kept the production of postcards in the form of postal stationary in hand. Only in 1894 were ,private cards permitted under restrictions as to size, paper and design . From that moment on picture postcards and wishingwell-cards were put on the market in Russia. (pict. 1) Three years later in1897, the different postal districts in Russia got the authority to publish official postal formula cards. During World War I the Russian military who enjoyed postal freedom, used them a lot and because of the relatively simple way of production they could meet with the great demand (lit.2).
Exactly a century ago, in 1901, there was a great Jubilee-exhibition in Riga. Special picture postcards were published for this reason and also the cigar, tobacco and papiros factory A.G.Ruhtenberg drew in this great way attention to its pavillion (pict.4).
The occasional stamp ,which was in use during the exhibition, forms a direct link with philatelism.It is unique because it is the only Russian occasional stamp of before the revolution. (pict. 5).
The heading Remained obligatory until 1908, after which (Postcard) came into use.
So postcards were popular, also with firms and organisations with much of the same sort of correspondence. Representatives, for example, announced their visits in advance to clients and they placed their orders at the factory by means of postcards. To avoid much unnecessary writing official postal stationary was printed (pict. 6 and 7).
A search for this kind of postal stationary, used in Baltic governments is certainly worth while.(lit.3).
Pict. 6. Frontside: the answering part of a piece of postal stationary with paid answer directed to the Kurl䮤ische Oekonomische Gesellschaft in Mitau / Jelgava, 1911.
Pict. 7. Backside: account of the Sturhofestate in the district of Tuckum concerning the harvest expected in 1911.
Firms also had their own postal formula cards printed to deal with identical correspondence. The firm Gartman made use of it to advertise its cacaobutter on the frontside in a striking way (pict. 8). The backside was meant to confirm payments received and was provided with its compulsory tax-stamp. (pict. 9).
An interesting combination with fiscal philatelism, which is getting more and more interest.
The texts or pictures on picture postcards may well fit in a posthistoric collection. Of which two examples.
Pict. 10. September 1905.
In German, a , in connection with the Japanese-Russian war,mobilised soldier writes from a station on the Siberian railway a card to Riga. Amongst others he talks about the overfull trains with typhoidsufferers and 30,000 sick people between Charbin and Irkutsk. Thursday we are in Irkutsk. With kind regards.....
Before this we have already written in our magazine (lit.4) about the Lithuanian infantry batallions formed in the Russian army during World War 1 and which a bit later in history merged with the bolsjevists.
Pict 11. Picture postcard with a picture of the "Latweeschu Strehlneeku Bataljoni"
Pict.12 Address-side of the card, sent from Riga to SCHODNJA (9-12 August 1916).
Under the address is indicated that the card is approved of by the censor in Petrograd. It is also remarkable that they also indicated in Lithuanian that it concerns a postcard: Waleja wehstule.