Guide to dating curt teich postcards

The company’s ability to fill orders quickly, as well as the introduction in 1931 of the linen postcard, was the source of their considerable fame and prosperity.

Some of the postcards we have in our collections are used, so it’s very easy to give them a date. At first, dating these unused postcards seemed like an impossible mystery to solve.

So, how have I been able to figure out a date or time period for all of our unused postcards?

The Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection is widely regarded as the largest public collection of postcards and related materials in the United States.

When received at the Newberry Library it was estimated at 2.5 million items, and well over a half-million unique postcard images.

The postcards include a range of subjects and genres: rural vistas and urban skylines, tourist attractions and emergent industries, domestic scenes and global conflicts.

Standing at the intersection of American commerce and visual culture, they demonstrate the country's evolving conception of itself-and its place in the world-during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

dominated the American postcard industry for several decades from the time of its opening in Chicago, Illinois in 1898, sometimes being called “the General Motors of the postcard.” The company was founded by Curt Teich, a German immigrant who came from a lineage of printers and followed his brother to Chicago in 1877.

At the time Teich opened his own printing firm, competition in Chicago was strong among newspapers and magazine printers.

In 1909, to reduce labor cost, Teich installed a new and fast offset-lithography press that printed four colors over black halftone impressions (derived originally from a black-and-white- photograph), resulting in delicately tinted postcards.

Thirty-two postcards were impressed on each sheet, affording Curt Teich to maintain quality and meet high volume demands faster than his competition. Photo Cote process, in which a black and white photograph was utlized in the printing, and a high-gloss coating was subsequently added to provide the appearance of a glossy photo print.

In 1904, in an attempt to carve out a niche for himself in the printing market, he returned to his native Germany to learn new techniques for the color printing of landscape views derived from black-and-white photographs.