Places of Interest At Mid-Century

Photograph, Post Card, and Cultural Artifact

The Mid-Century Linen Post Card evolved as a unique hybrid of photography, painting, and printing. Well represented as subjects throughout the Linen Period, were the new patterns and formations of a rapidly transforming landscape, rich in natural beauty, through architecture and urban design, initiated to suit man’s growing need for commerce, transportation, industry, entertainment, business, education, and public institution infrastructures. Nowhere is that change more evident than in the American West at Mid-Century.

The linen post card was almost a form of advertising for this young part of the country, and a successful one at that. Close to a billion cards were printed and mailed throughout the United States from 1931 to 1959, with postal delivery several times a day. The ubiquity of penetration then, was not unlike the adoption of social media today. As a highly accessible art form for the everyman, it allowed a visual, tactile, and aspirational connection to places as yet unknown, while at the same time, creating a visual history of everything at one of the most dynamic economic, social, and environmental transformations of the 20th century.

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Evolution of a Unique Architectural Landscape



The Wagener-Erganian Collection is a collection of 20th century California art. It includes more than 4,000 original mid-century linen post cards of the American West along with additional forms of works on paper, including more than 300 original photographs from Julius Shulman, printed under Shulman’s supervision during the collaboration on Raphael Soriano.

The foremost publishers of mid-century linen post cards were Curt Teich & Company in Chicago, who pioneered the mid-century linen post card in the 1930s, and the Tichnor Brothers Inc. in Boston. Between 1931 and 1959, they produced about 10,000 view points of the American West. Smaller publishers, including Actual Photo Company in La Jolla, California, continued to produce colorized black and white photo cards during the 1960s. 

The Wagener-Erganian Collection includes a complete catalogue raisonné of Curt Teich & Company published mid-century linen post cards of The American West. It also includes copies of original records of the Curt Teich & Company Archive.

Online access to 1,500 select mid-century images is available at:  WOWA WEST Login.  Please contact us for login credentials.

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