Innovation, Lifestyle, And BEauty

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.


New West Locations of Interest


Wagener-Erganian Collection

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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The Postcard Age • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In the decades around 1900, postcards were Instagram, Twitter, e-mail, Flickr, and Facebook, all wrapped into one. A postcard craze swept the world, as billions of cards were bought and mailed, or just pasted into albums. 

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Postcard History • The Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington

General history of the postcard in the United States.

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Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection • The Newberry Library, Chicago

The Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection is widely regarded as the largest public collection of postcards and related materials in the United States. The core of the collection is the Records of the Curt Teich Company, which includes over 360,000 images produced by the company from 1898 and 1978.

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Tichnor Brothers Post Card Collection • Boston Public Library

The Tichnor Brothers Collection contains approximately 25,000 office proofs of postcards of the United States published by the Boston firm Tichnor Brothers Inc. These are color postcards with a linen texture dated ca. 1930-1945. The concentration is on American vacation places.

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An American Odyssey • Taschen Books

Produced by the Detroit Photographic Company between 1888 and 1924, these rediscovered Photochrom and Photostint postcard images are the very first color pictures of North America. Covering people, places and legendary locales, they provide an epic panorama of the New World of our past.

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the Grand Tour • Taschen Books

Relive a bygone age of discovery and romance with this XXL volume of vintage travel ephemera from 1869 to 1939. Packed full of posters, tickets, menus, precious turn-of-the-century photochromes, as well as quotes from literary travelers like Jules Verne or F. Scott Fitzgerald, this book evokes all the adventure of such classic trips as the Orient Express, the Grand Tour, and the Trans-Siberian Railway.

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