Collecting Postcards Part 2 – Private Mailing Cards

The inventor of the first private postcard in the United States was JP Carlton of Philadelphia, who applied for a patent on Dec.. 17, 1861. He then sold his patent to HL Lipman, who printed postcards with a decorated border and marked "Lipman's Postal Cards".

In America the United States Postal Service published and printed its first postal cards in 1873. They were sold for 1 cent, while privately produced cards needed a two cent stamp, the same as a letter. For that reason, few postcards were produced privately because the privately printed postcards cost more to mail.

However, on May 19, 1898, Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act which allowed private printers and publishers to produce postcards. The Act required that private publishers print the message Private Mailing Cards, Authorized by Act of Congress on May 19, 1898 on the backs of their cards. Postage required was now a 1 cent stamp.

Like Postal Cards, the Private Mailing Cards allowed only address information on the backs of the card. Many pictorial private mailing cards compensated by leaving a small blank area along an edge for the sender to write a few words to the recipient. Pictorial "Private Mailing Cards" are very rare today.

Postal Card quickly became a term reserved to cards printed by the Post Office. Privately printed cards which required stamps for posting were called "Private Mailing Cards" and later called a "Post Card". Postal Card or Postal is still a term most appropriately applied to official United States postal stationery.

In 1901 the practice of "Private Mailing Cards" was rescinded and all privately produced cards were printed using the words "Post Card" printed on the undivided backs.

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