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Real Photo Postcards
Pictures from a Changing Nation

Lynda Klich and Benjamin Weiss, with contributions by Eric Moskowitz, Jeff L. Rosenheim, Annie Rudd, Christopher B. Steiner, and Anna Tome
Format Regular Price Member Price
Publication $45.00

ISBN: 978-0-87846-884-3; 312 pages; 8.5 x 9.5 in.; 360 color illustrations

The ubiquity of photography and social media today makes it hard to imagine a time when it was not possible for ordinary people to take their own pictures and send them with short messages over long distances. So it was revolutionary when the Eastman Kodak Company, in 1903, unveiled a new camera that produced a postcard-sized negative that could print directly onto a blank card. Suddenly almost anyone, amateurs and entrepreneurial photographers alike, could take a picture — of neighbors at home and at work, local celebrations, newsworthy disasters, sightseeing trips—and turn it into a postcard.

This book captures this moment in the history of communications through a generous selection of what came to be known as real photo postcards from the extensive Leonard A. Lauder Postcard Archive. As the formality of earlier photography falls away, these postcards remind us that the past was occupied by people with distinct and individual stories, dramatic, humorous, puzzling, and surprising.

"REAL PHOTO POSTCARDS: Pictures From a Changing Nation is beautifully lucid, among the finest published collections thus far. It does its best to be encyclopedic about a subject that resists such treatment. In practice it is reminiscent of Gerhard Richter’s “Atlas”: an almost positivistic visual reference. Each four-card spread (the cards are mostly reproduced actual-size) covers variations on one topic: freight delivery, road workers, store interiors, cobblers and barbers, lunch stands, bars, nickelodeons, band concerts, and so on through what might as well be the complete range of experience. In the process it serves up a panoramic view of the United States in the early 20th century, the time inevitably alluded to in official cultural nostalgia." —Lucy Sante, The New York Times

About the Author

Lynda Klich is Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Art History and Macaulay Honors College, Hunter College, CUNY, and curator of the Leonard A. Lauder Postcard Collection.

Benjamin Weiss is Leonard A. Lauder Senior Curator of Visual Culture, Department of Prints and Drawings, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.