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Urban Archeologist: Before Twitter it was Called Sending a Post Card

The art of the post card.

 

Bethel

 

The post card is an interesting phenomenon; once a common form of correspondence, it may someday be referred to as the painfully slow predecessor of Twitter. A few words scribbled quickly in a box of limited space, open for anyone to read, but making sense only to the recipient. Post cards can be very collectable, but I never knew why until I started blogging about them. Realization — They are visually addictive.

As a novelty of communication and a form of advertising, around since the 19th century, there are still millions of post cards out there. They were printed on thick paper stock to survive the handling of the Postal service, which also ensured their longevity.

The images, whether cartoon, photo or lithograph stand as historic documentary, especially if there’s a dated post-mark on the back. However, there was no standard of accuracy and sometimes the image wasn’t quite “true.” Take a look at a favorite topic of mine in the Lover’s Leap card. The location is listed incorrectly as Danbury, and notice the photo has been enhanced with some brush strokes.

This collection belongs to a friend of mine who allowed me to scan them before they are put up for sale. The birch bark image above has been enhanced by my own hand, but might have been the earliest form of written communication in card form. The random scenes — a street in Westport, a stretch of route 25 in New Milford (not sure that’s accurate) and an early look at a New Fairfield community before Candlewood Lake became heavily developed — are all important views of the past for which no photograph may exist.

Local history, no matter how it’s preserved will always be in short supply. Maybe it’s because we are so ill equipped to hold on to the things we value. With just 10 fingers, 4 pockets, a couple of underarms and a chin, we eventually have to put things down somewhere. and museums, and certainly are essential repositories of the kitsch we cache — but space in those places is also in short supply.

The final image is my favorite, which shows a very old view of the building that pre-dates Newtown’s Edmond Town Hall (built in 1929-30). Fortunately, on the reverse you can read a handwritten description of the building and its use as well as the local resident who sent it. This is good information that I will explore further by visiting Newtown’s Historian, Daniel Cruson.

Take a look here at a few more Connecticut oddities that were captured as post cards.

There are still cards out there waiting to be found in attics and basements, etc. Feel free to upload your own post card from olde Connecticut or comment on favorites you have seen or found. Though it is a holiday weekend, there are still digs to be found — happy hunting.

Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story.  You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.

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