ITEMS -  TOTAL  Check Order »

POSTCARD TYPES : Printed Photo

a postcard derived from an original photograph, reproduced via a photomechanical process and printed in ink.

Usually identified by the matt finish of the paper or card, though some may have a varnish or lacquer finish. Some printed photo postcards show excellent detail and these may be mistaken for real photographic cards.

The Collotype process was used extensively for postcard printing in the early 1900's and some fine example of printing were produced with detail often indistinguishable from photographic cards.

A collotype is produced by coating a plate with a dichromate sensitised gelatine. The plate is carefully dried to intoduce a reticulation* (fine grain). The plate is exposed for a time with a negative. After which the excess dichromate salt is washed out. The result is that the exposed gelatin hardens giving areas which are absorbent and non absorbent to ink. Which is then transferred to the fine paper or card.

*Reticulation is usually an unwanted effect in photography, when washing negatives a sudden decrease in temperature causes the gelatin to break up giving a 'frosted' appearance to the surface.

Postcards that have a large half-tone screen dot are easily distinguished with a magnifying glass but early plate making methods such as Collotype or Louis Levy's 'acid blast' process show much finer detail and just look grainy under magnification.

Collotype Card
The red printed title on this card also tells us its a printed photo. Though the detail is very good..

Collotype Card
Although the detail is very good, there is an obvious grainy texture when magnified...

Collotype Card advertising card for Collotype postcards produced from customers own originals.
note the minimum quantity of '1,000'.

dot screen
Later printed photo cards typically have a more obvious dot screen.
The same process used for printing today, though arguably inferior in quality to Victorian / Edwardian collotype.

Early colour view postcards such as those series produced by Valentines
also originate from monochrome (black & white) photographs, the colour was added later in the process to individual plates which when printed together produced the colour card. True colour postcards (from a real colour photograph) did not start appearing until the 1950's

Major publishers such as Valentines or Photochrom have produced
Real Photograph, Printed Photo, and Coloured Postcard versions of the same image.

Some publishers also added colour at a later stage to a monochrome
printed card. These tinted postcards had patches of coloured ink applied
individually by hand.

Colour Tinted

Colour Printed

More Examples of Printed Photo:

Collotype Postcard
The neat printed title on this card gives a clue that its a printed photo.

Collotype Postcard Detail
It's a Collotype. Although the detail is very good, there is an obvious grainy texture when magnified...

Collotype Card
Another collotype card posted 1903. The wide border at bottom is typical of early 1900's postcards.

© Michael Day 2008