U. S. Postal Card Club


U. S. Postal Card Club postcard - Blanche

Obverse of BLANCHE in the U. S. Postal Card Club series

This is one of those postcards that is more interesting for its reverse (address/correspondence side) than for its obverse (picture side).  The obverse simply has the name Blanche in all capital letters, printed diagonally with a positive slope.  Each letter is solid green with a gold border and a brown shadow effect, and is decorated with a gold floral pattern sporting four-petaled red blossoms.  The background has a light green border that fades to white toward the center, and sports a gold floral accent in the upper-left corner that matches the design on the letters (sans the red coloration of the blossom petals).

Blanche, besides being a woman’s name, is also the French spelling of the word white.  Blanche was a more popular name around the turn of the twentieth century than it is at the present time, according to the chart on quickbabynames.com, dropping in popularity from around 0.5% of all births in the 1880s to under 0.005% of all births in the 1960s and succeeding decades.  If you are named Blanche and attending a large party, and somebody yells across the room, “Hi, Blanche!” the chances are pretty good that they are talking to you!

The reverse of this “Blanche” postcard has the following advertisement printed in black ink: 

NOTICE–The holder of this card is a MEMBER
of the U. S. P. C. Club, and is entitled to membership prices.
On receipt of 10c  Coin) we will mail you 8 of these up-to-date postal cards.
     Make your selection from the following list:   ORDER TODAY 

Love         Leave For      My Pet      How R. U.        Farewell
Stung       Will C. U.      Regards    Y. Don’t U.       Au Revoir
I love U.    Kisses          My Darling     U  R. E. Z.   Good Luck
Dream of Me                 Will U. Go        Kisses—Lovers Sweets
My Sweetheart              Best Wishes    Silence Gives Consent
I’m Waiting for You        Please Write    Better late than never
Congratulate U All         Will U Come      Birthday Greetings
Will Write U. From        Father’s Baby    Having a good time
I dream of thee             Sweet dreams    Many happy returns
Will U. B. Mine            My Honey Boy       With fond hope
Love me and I’m thine   We R All Well        Yours forever
Make money honest, but make it           Also all Popular Names. 

U. S. Postal Card Club, Williamson Bldg, Cleveland, O.
——————————————————————————-
For correspondence 

U. S. Postal Card Club postcard - Blanche

Reverse of BLANCHE in the U. S. Postal Card Club series

Some of the messages that a member of the Club could order are incredibly similar to typical 21st century text messages, especially in regards to the use of abbreviations!  The advertisement for the U. S. Postal Card Club takes up nearly half of the space usually allotted for the sender to write a message, so the printer added a solid line under the last line of the ad, with “For correspondence.” printed underneath the line.  It is apparent that the postcard would normally be printed without the advertisement, since the reverse of the card is printed in brown ink, whereas the ad is printed in black ink.  Another indication that the ad is an addition to the regular printed reverse is the presence of “For correspondence” [partially trimmed] — printed in brown ink — in the very upper left corner of the card, indicating that a postcard without the ad would have had the entire left side of the reverse available for a message. 

Many divided-back postcards have a vertical line separating the left side (message side) from the right side (address side).  However, some publishers use the vertical separator to print company or other pertinent information, and this postcard falls into the latter category.  If the card is rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, the text of the separator can be easily read: 

System Patent Pending.  Levaur Lithograph Post Card Co., Cleveland, O. 

The following text is inside the stamp box, which is delineated by dotted lines: 

Place Stamp
       Here 

     Domestic
 Canada, Cuba
Mexico,Hawaii
   Philippines
    Porto Rico
      1 Cent 

      Foreign
      2 Cents 

The remaining printing on the reverse consists of “POST CARD”  in a large bold sans-serif font and “This side for Address” underneath it, both being located to the left of the stamp box.  There are also four dotted lines on the address side of the reverse on which to pen the address of the intended recipient.  The last tidbit of printing is “No. 42″, located just above and to the right of the separator text.  That number makes at least some sort of sense, since there are forty obverse messsages listed in the ad, not including  “Also all Popular Names.” , to which the finger is pointing.  One can speculate that the obverse messages that a member of the Club could order might have been numbered 1 through 40, with perhaps mens’ names being No. 41 and womens’ names being No. 42.  Just a conjecture; input from readers is welcome! 

You might have noticed that the postcard is not perfectly rectangular.  This is because the top and both sides have been cut by the sender.  This postcard was enclosed in an envelope when mailed to the (unknown) recipient.  The proof that the postcard was mailed within an envelope is the presence of a faint embossed circle exactly the size of a postal mark on the obverse underneath the N of BLANCHE.  The circle is only faintly embossed; however, its presence can be tactilly detected as well as visually, but to be visible, the postcard must be held such that light reflects off of the obverse at just the right angle to reveal the blind-stamped postmark as a shiny circle.  The circle is shiny because its ever-so-slightly raised surface is more susceptible to rubbing than the rest of the matt surface of the obverse.  Apparently, postcards were inexpensive enough “back in the day” that they were sometimes used as stationery.  It might be fun to see if any of the postcards in your collection have this telltale sign of having been mailed under cover.  (A “cover” is a fancy term for an envelope that has been mailed, since the envelope covers the letter.)  My conjecture is that this postcard was trimmed by the sender so that it would fit in the envelope in which it was mailed. 

The sender, using a fountain pen with black ink, has written the following message: 

I, am sendïng Pa a lovely card to-day.  I, am sorry poor Carrie ïs gone.  And a hard horse master, Clark knows him well for he keeps him in Hay. 

This leaves Violet in Bed with a bad sore-throat & taking 3 kinds of medicine.  Hope Evelyne wïll soon be better.  I, am making the Girls light blue silk dresses for X’mas night to speak in.  Grace. 

Grace is most likely of German extraction, since she uses the umlaut diacritical mark over the letter “i” three times.  Her reference to Christmas indicates that the message was probably written in late November or in the month of December before the 25th.  However, the year the message was written remains a mystery, although it is very likely to have been written between 1907 and 1917.  This time frame is based on these parameters:  Divided back postcard, one cent domestic postage, and lack of white border around the obverse. 

Would anyone care to hazard a guess as to whether Grace was left- or right-handed? 

The Williamson Building, which the U. S. Postal Card Club called its home, was born with the 1900s, having been started in April, 1899 and completed one year later.  It was 17 stories tall, and was the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, among other prestigious tenants, per the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (link will open in a new window). <Begin funny thought>  A person having business for the first time with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland inquires at the front desk of the Williamson Building for its location.  The receptionist replies:  “The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland?  It is located on the fifth floor, just down the hall from the U. S. Postal Card Club.” <End funny thought>   The Williamson Building was sited on Public Square in the heart of downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and is called “the monumental gateway to Euclid Avenue” by the encyclopedia cited above.  The building was demolished in 1982, but there are undoubtedly many postcard views that picture it. 

The most intriguing aspect of this postcard is the U. S. Postal Card Club.  I could find NO online information about this club, nor any info about the Levaur Lithographic Post Card Company publisher.  Any information on the Levaur Lithographic Post Card Company and the U. S. Postal Card Club would be most welcome.  Also, it might be fun as well as instructive to browse through your collection for postcards bearing any of the forty obverse messages that were available from the Club! 

This BLANCHE postcard is being submitted to the Festival of Postcards, coordinated by Evelyn Yvonne Theriault, since the theme of this Festival is “white.”  Please do view the dazzling array of entries at Festival of Postcards (6th Ed.) – White!

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9 Responses to “U. S. Postal Card Club”

  1. eva marie Says:

    Your thorough investigation of this postcard is a riveting and fascinating read! Wow!

  2. postcardiness Says:

    Hello Eva Marie! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. I learned a lot while doing the online research to delve into the various aspects of this postcard. — Leo

  3. evelynyvonnetheriault Says:

    Greetings Leo,
    This was such a great article that it was chosen as the Feature Article for the latest Festival of Postcards (6th Ed. – White). The Festival has been published at:

    http://wp.me/pp92w-77c

    Thanks for all the great information you’ve shared with us.
    Evelyn in Montreal

    P.S. It would be helpful if you copied the White Festival link into the body of your post so that interested readers can check it out. Thanks!

  4. Susan E Says:

    Leo – This postcard is absolutely perfect for the White Edition of the Festival of Postcards – congrats on the well-deserved Feature honor!

    I, too, am curious about The U.S. Postal Card Club. Perhaps some other postcards in this series will surface as a result of this in-depth post!

    • postcardiness Says:

      I had initially selected another postcard that had a “white” connection, but decided to enter the Blanche postcard when it surfaced in a batch that I was sorting. I’m glad that you like it.

      Further information on the publisher and its Club will most likely have to come from other postcards coming to light, and from direct contact with local history resources proximate to the Cleveland area, since online resources yielded very little data. — Leo

  5. Sheila Says:

    A fascinating study of the card! I would say Grace is right handed – the writing slopes to the right, the smudges go towards the right and left-handedness was far less common in those days.

    I’ve never seen the letter i as ï before, so I’m off now on a browse to find out what it is.

    • postcardiness Says:

      Hi Sheila! From what I can gather, the slope of the letters (positive slope = to the right; negative slope = to the left) yields very little inferred data on the handedness of the writer. From http://www.myhandwriting.com/FAQ/index.html (Question 17) , “Although many left-handed people have a leftward slant to their writing, it is not because they are left-handed. Many right-handed people have writing that slants to the left, and many left-handed people slant their writing to the right.” I will postpone further comments on this subject in order to give other readers a chance to give their opinion.

      You should have fun researching the “i with an umlaut”. I added a word to my vocabulary, “diaeresis” (I prefer the spelling “dieresis), and learned how to get the “i with an umlaut” to appear in the post! It turns out that adding special characters is a breeze in WordPress, but in the early days of personal computers, in order to get a special character to appear, one had to enter the proper numeric code for the character from a table of ASCII character codes. — Leo

    • postcardiness Says:

      Hi Sheila! One of the three reasons you offer that leads you to think that Grace is right-handed is the same reason that causes me draw the opposite conclusion: “the smudges go towards the right”. A right-handed person holds the writing implement such that it trails the hand, so the pen is being pulled, and the right hand is dragging across an unwritten surface. However, a left-handed person pushes the pen in front of the hand, and the rest of the hand drags across the written surface from left to right. If the fresh ink has not yet dried, it will smudge to the right as the person continues to write. When Grace finished her missive, she likely got up to wash her inky left pinky! Of course, we have no definitive proof that Grace is left-handed, just educated inference based on the evidence. — Leo

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