Greetings From The City of New York

A New Show in the Back Room Of the City Reliquary!
February 15th – April 28th 2013

Opening Reception Friday Feb 15th
6-9pm, FREE! Donation appreciated.
At the City Reliquary, 370 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn Beer Available for donation

Wish you were here? You dont have to wish, you can simply stroll into the back-room of Brooklyn’s Community Museum, the City Reliquary, to envision a picturesque time-gone-by! Starting Friday, February 15th, we are proud to present a plethora of picture postcards from the collection of Lon Black, each one reversing the clock to the turn of the 20th century.

The subject of Greetings From The City of New York is postcards with views of New York City from the Undivided Back Era.

As soon as they were invented, picture postcards became an extraordinarily popular form of communication. They were quickly delivered by an efficient postal service and city dwellers had multiple mail deliveries (up to 9 separate trips per day in Manhattan!) six days a week (never on Sundays.) Without the ubiquity of telephones, postcards were the next best thing.

But there was a bonus benefit to communicating by postcard: the sender would be providing the receipient with a picture that they would cherish and add to their postcard collection. Such a lucky relative or friend would probably display their collection in postcard albums specially designed and manufactured to display these 3-1/2 by 5-1/2 inch cards. It was a picture postcard cottage industry.

In these early postcard years, the USPS wouldn’t deliver any cards with ANY information on the verso side (reserved for the recipient’s info) other than the name and address. Therefore, many messages were craftily composed on the front side (the image side.) Postcard publishers usually left some white space for nascent authors to do this. But these scribbling Dostoyevskys might also write in any light-colored area of the image; in the sky, for instance.

On March 1, 1907, the United States Post Office cut the public some slack and began allowing postcard writers to write on the back. Thus began the Divided Back Era, so named because a vertical line was printed down the center of the verso (back) of each card. So it continues today.

The exhibit is curated by Lon Black whose interest in postcards began in his early teens. All the postcards featured in the exhibit are from his personal collection. He started collecting New York City views after moving here 32 years ago. Always looking for the unusual or rare postcard, his focus was acquiring images he had never seen. But in the past several years, he has paid more attention to the words or pictures that people wrote on the images of the undivided back cards.

Selected for this show are New York City postcards with messages that refer to the picture and/or express a sentiment about the City. Some are humorous. Some are evocative. The marriage of the message and picture can animate the postcards with personality. Some can inspire the imagination and elicit an emotional charge. They are nothing less than a ticket to a time traveling experience.

Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed.