C Fi 9945

The nostalgic ritual of sending a postcard has persevered since 1840. Who doesn't enjoy receiving a handwritten note the old fashioned way depicting new and exciting settings or a slice of history from the other's home town? Perhaps a note about an interesting shop that you stumbled across or a unique artifact seen.

Here we see a one=cent stamp. In November 1870, pointing to the success of postal cards in Europe, Postmaster General John Creswell recommended to Congress the issuance of a one-cent postal card in the United States. Creswell told Congress that
there had long been a need for a "prompt and easy mode of communication by mail, adapted to the convenience
and habits of business men, as well as of that large class of persons who have not the time or the inclination to
write formal letters."

In 1871, Representative John Hill of New Jersey introduced a bill in Congress authorizing postal cards, but approval was delayed, due in part to concerns about the privacy of messages. James Garfield, a representative from Ohio (and later, President), thought that open messages on cards would be too dangerous. By passing through so many hands, he thought that a postal card with a libelous message might "be a vehicle of great injury to the person to whom it was addressed." Garfield warned a colleague that he might "find these postal cards coming back upon him like barbed arrows, from anybody who may wish to shoot at him." Garfield, among others, wanted a postal card constructed with a cover or gummed flap to conceal the message.

After much debate, Congress left it to the Postmaster General to determine the proper form and size of the card. The Act of June 8, 1872, authorized the Postmaster General to issue postal cards for the "transmission … at a reduced rate of postage, of messages, orders, notices, and other short communications" on "good stiff paper, of such quality, form, and size, as he shall deem best adapted for general use."

Their popularity flourished. Postal cards were popular with individuals as well — some critics thought they were too popular. In 1903, a writer for the Baltimore Sun lamented that "there are people who would write anything on a 'postal,' from a recipe for fruit cake to the last quarrel that they had with their husbands."

In 1911, Elizabeth Van Rensselaer, etiquette columnist for the Chicago Tribune, advised: "As a general rule, a postal card should not be used except for business purposes. … If it is an absolute necessity to send one to a friend … the sentences should be short. … all personal messages should be omitted.

As you walk up the street, you'll see more postcards. You decide, should personal messages be omitted?

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Erik Schlake

Erik Schlake is a mural artist from Cape Coral FL. Erik has studied art at the university level, including Washington University, as well as lessons from various international artists. For the past few years, Erik, along with his daughter Allison, have been participating in chalk festivals since 2016. Erik and Allie, together and individually, create with an attitude of "go big or go home". "We don't mind pushing the limits and failing or falling on our face. It's part of the creative process, and we love putting it out for the world to see. We hope that, in some way, inspires others to get out and try because the feeling of failure goes away but the feeling of 'I wish I at least tried' lasts much longer".