When I think of how communication has changed in the last one hundred and fifty years I am amazed at where we have come from. Today, we can send a text message, audio message, or video message to anyone in the entire world, with the click of a button. Within seconds, someone over 3,000 miles away (the average distance from New York to California) can share a moment with a family member, friend or even stranger that used to take days, weeks or even months to share.
Beginning in the 1600’s family would communicate from the United States back to England through a postal site that was developed at a Boston tavern. In the 1800’s the United States Postal Service began to serve America by charging postage to transport letters over a specific distance. The correspondence would travel through stagecoaches and steamboats (in places where roads did not exist). During the Pony Express age in the 1860’s, William Russell designed relay stations where riders were paid to ride a specified amount of miles to transport mail at an exuberant rate of $5.00 per ½ once (later being reduced to $1.00 per ½ once). The Pony Express did not last, but it did show that travel from coast to coast for commercial purposes was possible. Air mail service was not established until the early 1900’s, at a much faster speed than the original stagecoaches.
The postcard looked different back in the 1860’s than it does today. It was also called something else, a postal card. John P. Charlton is credited for creating the private postal card. The card had a decorative border, no picture on one side and a place for the writing and address on the other side. The cost to mail this card was only ONE CENT (can you imagine how many postcards we can send out today if we only had to pay one cent for each card?).
In 1898 congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act that allowed private printing companies to produce postcards (previously they were produced by the government). Within a few years the long name would be cut short to the term that we know today “Post Card”. Over the next 50 years the postcard would evolve with different borders, textures and designs.
Today in the year 2020, the standard postcard size is 4”x6” and can travel from New York to California in 2 days at a rate of $.35 cents. I hope that we can restore a generation of family members and friends that want to communicate through old fashioned mail, written with love and affection.