Book List


The essentials:

American Architecture: a vintage postcard collection     Luc Van Malderen    2000

 American Architecture is a superb and almost definitive selection of American urban imagery in postcard form compiled by an architectural historian with an excellent eye for an arresting image – a book that can sustain hours of browsing.

Paris Postcards          Leonard Pitt    2009

 Leonard Pitts’ collection of Parisian postcards is unequalled in its scope and distinction and well presented in this book. Pitt is an exemplary scrutineer of postcards and draws out the hidden narratives with skill. He is especially good at locating the telling detail or the concealed discrepancy.

 The Postcard Century             Tom Phillips                2000

 More than any other anthologiser of postcards, Tom Phillips delves deep into the mysteries of the subject. This survey is like a geologist’s core sample retrieved from a century’s accumulation of ephemera. The Postcard Century is a heroic compilation of all the finest qualities that postcards possess and evidence of a massive commitment in terms of time and resources. The book displays a year-by-year selection that crosses virtually all genres and categories and is greatly enriched by the correspondence that the author has transcribed from the reverse and adds greatly to the social documentary feel of the enterprise.  It is quite simply a humane and fascinating book that can be opened at any page and the reader is instantly immersed in a chronicle of lost times.  The visual images and the transcribed text are mutually enhancing and add up to a lot more than the sum of their parts.

 Postcards of the Night             John A Jakle    2003

 Postcards of the Night is a worthy attempt to do justice to a minor genre with an unusual capacity to emotionally engage the viewer. John Jakle is a keen-eyed observer of the dubious art of photo-retouching and gently draws attention to the scale of manipulation to be found in these images. Above all he is receptive to the visual poetry and sense of enchantment embedded in this most unlikely of places.

Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard         Jeff Rosenheim            2009

 The Walker Evans book is best considered as a tribute to the most visually sophisticated collector of vintage postcards. While his contemporaries were in pursuit of the rare and hard to find, Evans, the great American photographer, went looking for images that enhance our appreciation of the everyday and unremarkable – visual clues to the texture and flavour of the things most quickly forgotten or dismissed as trivial and insignificant. By the time he died in 1975 he had amassed a collection of 9,000 examples divided into subject categories such as Small Towns, Summer Hotels, Railroad Stations and as Jeff Rosenheim points out (Unclassified: a Walker Evans Anthology, 2000), almost all of Evans’s photographic output could be fitted into the filing system he devised for his postcards. Evans began collecting at the age of 10 and continued all his life, even delivering illustrated lectures on the subject at Yale University and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Evans was attracted by the emotional neutrality of postcards, preferring those that recorded the everyday and ordinary to those that strove for conscious effect or those that celebrated greatness in architecture, history or human achievement. He used his privileged position as a Contributing Editor at Fortune magazine and Architectural Forum to indulge his obsession and present his most cherished examples to a wider readership.

The rest:

Books written with the needs of collectors in mind are mostly to be avoided unless they are directly relevant to your interests and there are many dismal anthologies of local interest postcards dedicated to specific places that with a few exceptions make unrewarding reading. The list below includes some that have been informative and others that offer some entertainment.

Advertising Postcards      Robert M. Reed   2000    

 Art Deco Postcards          Patricia Bayer    2011

 The Birth of a Century: Early Color Photographs of America           Jim Hughes        1994  

Boring Postcards            Martin Parr       2004    

 Britain Then & Now: The Francis Frith Collection   Philip Ziegler         2001    

 British Railway Postcards of Yesteryear      Ian Allan           1991    

 Gas, Food, and Lodging  John Baeder          1982

 Greetings from Los Angeles: A Visit  in Postcards       Kerry D. Tucker  1982

Greyhound in Postcards: Buses, Depots     John Dockendorf             2004    

 Hooray for Hollywood     Jim Heimann                  1993

 Linen Postcards: Images of the American Dream      Werther &  Mott      2002    

 moderne grüße. Fotografierte Architektur auf Ansichtskarten 1919 – 1939         Kirsten Baumann                        2004    

New York in Postcards  1880-1980   The Andreas Adam Collection    Paul Goldberger et al                    2010

Nire Bilbao        Luis Amann Egidazv        1992

Nothing to Write Home About           Michelle Abadie & Susan Beale         2007

Picture Postcards                        Marian Klamkin              1974

The Postcard Age        Lynda Klich & Benjamin Weiss       2013

Postcards from Times Square        George J Lankevich          2001

Prairie Fires and Paper Moons: The American Photographic Postcard, 1900-1920        Hal Morgan       1981

Railway Picture Postcards            Maurice I. Bray   1986    

Real Photo Postcards: Unbelievable Images from the Collection of Harvey Tulcensky      Todd E. Alden    2005    

The Stamp of Fantasy – the visual inventiveness of photographic postcards     Clément Chéroux, Ute Eskildsen     2007



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