Then and now, postcards are a snapshot - sometimes literally - of everyday life.
"They are windows of the past," said Lancaster County Postcard Club charter member Jere Greider.
"I've learned more history from postcards than (I did) in school," added Dede Schaeffer, who is also a charter member of the club, which was formed in 1990 at the behest of Jim Ward and Charlie Griffiths.
Postcards were initially developed in the 1800s, and they were a highlight of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Initially, they consisted of an image on the front and a space to write the address on the back. In 1907, the divided back was introduced.
"Until then, they couldn't write more than the address on the back, so often they wrote (in small letters) around the border on the front," Greider explained.
Postcards from that time period still exist, as do others produced in the years since. Uncountable postcards will be displayed and available for purchase at the 26th annual Postcard Exposition that the Lancaster County Postcard Club will host on Saturday, Aug. 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Farm and Home Center, 1383 Arcadia Road, Lancaster. A total of 25 dealers from five states are slated to offer postcards with the themes of advertising, holidays, real photos, town views, and more. Prices typically range from a quarter to hundreds of dollars.
Additionally, club members will exhibit boards displaying groups of cards in the subjects of Pennsylvania views, transportation, advertising, and real photos pre-1950. "You can look at the boards and get an idea of what (the subject) is all about," Greider remarked.
The expo is popular among postcard collectors, and a line usually forms at the door before the venue opens. The club also welcomes individuals who are new to the hobby.
"People come in who've inherited cards and don't know what to do with them," Schaeffer related.
Postcards were a form of communication heavily used before telephones became standard in homes. Recipients tended to collect the missives in albums.
"(Households) had their family Bible, a photo album, and a postcard album," Schaeffer said. "They'd sit down and look through the albums on Saturday nights."
Both the images on the front and the text on the reverse of postcards tell stories. Schaeffer noted that club members have discovered cards bearing the signatures of famous folks, and she has personally rubbed shoulders with notable individuals who collect postcards. For club member Susan Glass, an interest in her hometown introduced her to deltiology - the word for the study and collection of postcards.
"A lot of people look for views of their hometown," Glass commented. "Once you get hooked, then you find something else to collect."
The Lancaster County Postcard Club welcomes new members, and guests may attend club meetings free of charge. A small fee will be charged for admission to the Postcard Expo. A 4-H group will sell hot and cold food and beverages. Gift certificates to be used toward the purchase of postcards at the expo will be awarded in door prize drawings throughout the day.
For more information about the club or the Postcard Exposition, readers may contact Greider at 717-413-6882 or firstname.lastname@example.org.