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It all started with the humble 'souvenir card'

May 5, 1997
Web posted at: 12:00 a.m. EDT (0400 GMT)

(CNN) -- Since long before the days of e-mail and faxes, postcards have delivered panoramic sunsets, palm trees and pithy greetings from folks far away. For many people, they are more than mail, they are keepsakes. Affection for the clever little cardstock rectangles comes out of the mailbox the first week of May every year, for National Postcard Week.

John McClintock, head of the Postcard History Society, says postcards as we know them didn't come about until early this century. He says the post office issued plain, stamped mailing cards in 1873. Within 20 years, a company came out with "souvenir cards," which had a picture on the front and a space for the address, but no message, on the back.

"Finally, they allowed them to be called 'postcards,'" he explains, "and in 1907, they allowed [postcard designers] to divide the back so they could put both an address and a message on it."

McClintock says there are now 106 postcard clubs in the United States, and more than 100 postcard shows a year. He has been collecting since 1958, and sells everything from "actors-actresses" to "zeppelins."

McClintock says the next big show will be held May 23-24 at the Howard Johnson in Hagerstown, Maryland.

For more information, send a postcard (of course) to Postcard History Society, Box 1765, Manassas, VA 22110.

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