- Continuous-tone images "know" much more than we can see
- Real picture postcards (RPPC) capture valuable historical detail
- Digitizing RPPCs is easy, and has manifold benefits
- Chicago's Charles R. Childs was a picture-postcard pioneer
- Non-RPPC images have their place, too
I. About continuous-tone images
- Similar to grayscale; color is said to vary continuously
- One color shades gradually into another with no gaps
- There may be hundreds of shades in a single square inch
- Such images capture enormous detail
- Old-fashioned film pictures are continuous-tone
- Printing presses can only print one color at a time!!
- It's easy to fool the human eye
- AT A DISTANCE!!
- Halftones represent a tradeoff
- Consist of many dots of a single color (maybe multiple passes)
- Dot sizes vary--the bigger the dot the darker the shade
- The dots blur to simulate a continuous-tone image
- AT A DISTANCE!!
Continuous-tone postcard by MLPhoto
Halftone postcard, S.D. Kropp, Milwaukee
Continuous tone imaging is the "secret sauce" in the RPPC
II. RPPCs hold a lot of information
Some important dates
- 1893: Postcards introduced at Columbian Exposition
- 1902: Kodak sells photographic "paper" with pre-printed back
- 1907: Kodak introduces "Real Picture Postcard"
- They continued to produce them until ca. 1950
- 1907: Post Office allows messages on the backs of postcards
- Postcards became a major social phenomenon
- Chicago was the production epicenter
Some Chicago-area shops
- C.R. Childs
- ML-Photo - Morris L. Masure
2837 Milwaukee Ave Chicago
- Crose - Thomas Albert Crose
- He was born near Brookston
- Harry Stilwell - studio in Monon
1. Frank Pullins (1875-1958)
2. Dr. Hackley's House
Neill Williams (1884-1965) Glass Negative
3. When did Wm. Leader's cornice collapse?
Regular people made RPPCs, too
I got two "personal" RPPCs from Don Behny, a man I never met
Seeing Frank Baughman (1865-1932)
Crowd admires Brush Runabout in front of old Horner's Store building
Who are those guys next to Frank???
III.The digitization process
Thanks to the late Jim Schilling, of the Starke County Historical Society
Scan resolution matters
Horner Store - Mary Baughman Collection
Scanned ca. 2005
2018 Scan w/i900
File format matters too!
- General advice: archive in TIF
- Most .jpg formats LOSE information
- GIF and PNG "okay" with caveats
Even film has "resolution"
- Photographers use the term grain
- The finer the grain, the higher the resolution
- Not all RPPCs are created equal!!
IV. The amazing career of
Childs biographical highlights
- Lived his whole life in Chicago area (1875-1960)
- Very little is known about him
- Estimates vary 25,000-80,000 cards done
- They document life in many small towns
- Not all are RPPCs
- Later work was "artsy" instead of documentary
Image courtesy of Chicago History Museum
Sometimes images were "borrowed" by others
V. Other types of images can be useful, too
1974 Cheap-camera photo
Sign up for half-day workshop!!
Real Picture Postcards