Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mary Pickford Postcards

Ever since I began work on my book, Mary Pickford: Canada's Silent Siren, America's Sweetheart (Quest Biography), my cousin, who collects vintage postcards, has been on the look out for cards featuring portraits of Mary. The other day I was delighted to receive in the mail a package of several postcards from my cousin.

I never paid much attention to postcards before this, except to enjoy those sent by friends and family visiting far away places, or those I purchased myself to augment my own vacation pictures. But collecting postcards -- buying, selling and trading them -- is right up there with collecting stamps and coins as a popular hobby . I decided I should learn a little more about this fascinating pastime.

The collection and study of  postcards is called deltiology. When the first postcards to use real photos appeared around 1900, many featured portraits of entertainers or family members. For a while, in the "undivided back" era (December 24, 1901 to March 1, 1907), anyone sending a message on the card had to write over the picture on the front. The back was reserved for the address and postage. After March 1, 1907, postcards came with a divided back, allowing space for the message.  That fact could help to narrow down the year a particular postcard was printed.
Mary Pickford was just one of a number of early film stars to be pictured on vintage postcards. And now I'm going to pay a little more attention to the postcards I come across.

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