Features appear in each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage showcasing a variety of subjects from various periods and geographic locations in Pennsylvania.

William E. Stewart of Arnold, Pennsylvania, may have one of the largest collection of postcards in America. And, in addition, he has a wealth of information on what the cards depict.

The postcard originated in Austria in the 1860’s with a young professor. Dr. Emmanuel Herman. The first official postal card appeared on October 1, 1869. Soon Germany and Great Britain introduced similar cards. The United States issued its first one-cent postal card in 1873 showing the head of liberty. About 31 million of the one-cent cards were printed.

Then in 1898, the first Private Mailing Cards were issued in the country.

By 1914 the postcard craze began to fade, and the early pre-1915 cards are now “antiques.”

However, the postcard has staged a great resurgence on the crest of the nostalgia wave that has swept America.

According to Stewart, condition, quality, historical association and demand determine the value of postcards.

Stewart – or Colonel as his friends call him, has over a million and a half postcards in his collection. As he noted, “Every conceivable subject known to man and a lot of inconceivable ones have been placed on postcards.”

One card which Stewart sent to the astronauts was printed in 1910 and showed an airplane hooked to the moon. The verse read:

I have your invitation,
and would fly to you full soon
But my air-ship’s out of business
In the dry-dock of the moon …

A small sampling of Stewart’s patriotic postcards are shown in this, the Bicentennial Year.