Robin Whittle's Show-and-Tell - Valentines Day Cards

Back to the Show and Tell page for various items of eclectic interest such as corsetry advertisements, a 1913 colour photograph of a demure young woman, old photos, colour slides from a ca. 1950 Sun Beachgirl Quest, photos of eucalypt and temperate rainforest in the Strzelecki Ranges, South Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.
Back to the First Principles page for many other items of potential interest, such as my 71 foot long Sliiiiiiiiiiinky, paintings by an artist friend of mine when she was four and five years old and photos from a Green Ant trance techno dance party.

In February 2001, some of these images were featured in the International Artists Images of Eyes Gallery .

Robin Whittle  28 January 2000

Yesterday a friend in Pennsylvania sent me five Valentines Day cards.  A big kiss to you my special friend!!  The two with post dates are from 1911 and 1914, and another is copyright 1910.

Beside each low resolution image are links to large images including one of the back of the card.  There are also some detail images of the card and the stamp and postmark.  Some of the images are very large in terms of pixels and file-size.  These can be viewed on your browser, but you will need to scroll around.  The idea is you can download them, edit them and make your own cards with an ink jet printer.  The file names contain the image size in horizontal and vertical pixels.

Instructions for downloading files: For Netscape Communicator, to download, hold Shift and click the link.  To save an image (again with Netscape) click the right button on your pointer device (trackball, mouse . . .) on the image, and you will have the option to save it wherever you like on your hard disk.  These don't work with MS Internet Explorer 5, but if you shift click on a link, you get the image in a separate browser window, and you can File: Save it from there.  So how do you save an image you see in a web page with MSIE?  Run Netscape!

I have always had a fetish for printing.  I especially like objects – human-made and otherwise – which reveal more detail the closer you look at them.  I will enjoy looking at these with my stereo zoom microscope!  If you don't mind downloading large files, you can have a microscope-like view on your screen.

I have determined that most video monitors typically have an exponential brightness curve, so 50% grey in an image file produces (for instance) only 22% of the light of 100% white.  Scanners and the voltage output of VGA cards is perfectly linear (unless you have gamma correction on your PC or when scanning) and so the mid-tones of images appear darker on screen than they should.  Consequently, on your screen, these images probably look a bit richer and have more contrast than they do in real life.  For instance, on the last card, in real life the card's outside "white" area is dimmer than I see it on my screen, and the darkest brown in the hat is lighter than on screen.  (I scanned these with a 600DPI Umax Astra 1200S scanner.  I modified it with reflectors to illuminate the artwork from the opposite angle to the light as well, to reduce shadowing with non-flat items.)

Fixing a broken heart indeed!  An extraordinary image.  This and the one below are printed in Saxony – which as best I can tell is central and north-central Germany.  Lower Saxony seems to be in the north, so Saxony might be just north-east of Frankfurt, which I understand has long been a centre of printing and other technologies.

I haven't counted carefully, but I estimate there are about 12 colours of ink used in this card.  I imagine it is lithography, because I see no evidence of any impression which would probably have been made by letterpress.  Perhaps this and the other cards are "chromolithographs".  Some of the colours are only in a few places, making letterpress especially prone to leaving an impression.  I don't think it is gravure, since there is no continuous tone of ink, and the ink is plastered on quite thickly.

This was almost before photographic separation of colour photographs or illustrations.  (See another section of this Show and Tell department for a 1913 example and a link to an online book and museum of printing and photographic techniques).  The artwork was evidently 12 or so separate images, each manually created.  The registration is good.  There must have been a great deal of trial and error with the artwork and ink colours – and some interesting decisions on what order to print the colours.

All these cards apart from the second last have been embossed after printing.

This was sent to Miss Anna E. March of Millersville, Pennsylvania on 13 February 1914.


Evidently from the same manufacturer in Saxony, this card mentioned specific postal rates: "Domestic One Cent, Foreign Two Cents".  I think this indicates it was printed for the US market.  By changing a single image for one colour of ink, the front of the card could be made for any language.

This card has an earlier catalogue number than the first.  One ink colour is gold.

This one has a simple, welcoming design with lots of gold.  This was sent to Lillie Goshert of Hopeland Pennsylvania, from Haefferstown, on 15 February 1911.

A copyright notice below the stamp reads: "COPR. E. NASH 1910".

This card has a stuck-on hot-pink heart with little shards of very fine broken glass for glitter, and a neat red satin ribbon.

Your analysis, Dr Spock??