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Although historians can trace postcards to the mid-1800s, their popularity didn’t surge until the invention of photograph cards in the early twentieth century. These typically featured images of real people or places and were usually printed on film stock paper. Initially mailed with both message and image on the front, the cards quickly evolved into the format familiar today– picture on front, divided back for message and address.
By 1907, the market for postcards had exploded, as they provided a quick, cheap and fun method for cross country communication. Americans mailed millions of them between 1900 and 1920, and they swiftly became a favorite collectible for hobbyists. By focusing on a particular place– in this case Wake Forest N.C.– it’s possible to glean actual historical information from the backs of those cards. Writers often jotted bits of local news and gossip, allowing today’s collectors to develop a broader understanding of the viewpoints of past visitors or residents.
These particular vintage postcards are shared by local collector Eric Rush, a Wake Forest property owner and historian. You can find similar items on auction sites such as eBay. Prices typically range from a couple dollars to twenty or more– based on condition, age and rarity.
And ours is not the only Wake Forest postcard collection available for online viewing, The Carpenter Library at the Wake Forest School of Medicine has posted a series dedicated to the North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Bowman Gray School of Medicine. And the North Carolina Collection at UNC Chapel Hill has devoted a section of its website to postcards from Wake County– a number of them from Wake Forest.