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Cards with messages had been sporadically created and posted by individuals since the beginning of postal services.
The earliest known picture postcard was a hand-painted design on card, posted in Fulham in London by the writer Theodore Hook to himself in 1840, and bearing a penny black stamp.
Stamp collectors distinguish between postcards (which require a stamp) and postal cards (which have the postage pre-printed on them).
While a postcard is usually printed by a private company, individual or organization, a postal card is issued by the relevant postal authority.
Charlton of Philadelphia, who patented a postal card, and sold the rights to Hymen Lipman, whose postcards, complete with a decorated border, were labeled "Lipman's postal card". In Britain, postcards without images were issued by the Post Office in 1870, and were printed with a stamp as part of the design, which was included in the price of purchase. The larger size was found to be slightly too large for ease of handling, and was soon withdrawn in favour of cards 13mm (½ inch) shorter.
nothing shall be written or otherwise impressed upon, or attached to any part of, that side of a postal packet which bears the address at which the packet is to be delivered ..." which, in effect, interfered with the duties of the Post Office.
This new available space led to ever increasing amounts of narrative being added alongside the title.
Although short narratives have found their way onto the backs of postcards since private mailing cards, this form became more common in the 1930’s and is still prevalent today.
In the United States, the custom of sending through the mail, at letter rate, a picture or blank card stock that held a message, began with a card postmarked in December 1848 containing printed advertising.
The first commercially produced card was created in 1861 by John P.
The advantage to contemporary collectors is that most people of the period stopped writing messages across the card’s image.