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Detroit Publishing Company Postcards from the Leonard Lauder Postcard Collection

Thousands of postcards (photomechanical prints, primarily in color and on warm white stock; 3.5 x 5.5 inches or smaller), ca. 1898-1920s, featuring images of North American landscapes and cityscapes, including views of well-known streets, buildings, historic monuments, natural scenery, industry, transportation, and daily life. Some series reproduce art works and illustrations.

Collection Contents  |  Related Subjects

On Board Steamer, en route to Santa Catalina, Calif. Digital ID: 69459. On Board Steamer, en route to Santa Catalina, Calif. Digital ID: 69459.

Collection History

The Detroit Publishing Company was one of the largest American publishers of postcards and photographic views during the early decades of the 20th century. This digital collection represents a portion of a larger collection, totaling 14,500 postcards, donated to the Library in 1986 by Leonard Lauder, executive, philanthropist, and art collector. According to The New York Times, Mr. Lauder began collecting postcards at the age of 6. Today he continues to collect at the rate of some 1,000 postcards per year-for "the pleasure of discovery, and once discovered, the pleasure of preservation."

Background

The Detroit Photographic Company originated in 1898 to promote a new color printing process in the United States and to capitalize on the public's interest in sending inexpensive pictorial greetings. In 1905 the firm became the Detroit Publishing Company, continuing to use the trade name "Phostint" for its patented color reproduction process. Western landscape photographer William Henry Jackson was long associated with the firm, bringing his and other photographers' negatives to the image stock published by the company. Photographers' names are not associated with individual postcard images, although art reproductions and illustration series are credited. Diminishing sales and rising competition from rival firms sent the Detroit Publishing Company into receivership in 1924, and its assets were finally liquidated in 1932.

Related Resources

Lowe, James L. and Ben Papell. Detroit Publishing Company Collectors' Guide. (1975).

Stechschulte, Nancy Stickels. The Detroit Publishing Company Postcards: A Handbook for Collectors of the Detroit Publishing Company Postcards. (1994).

Library of Congress: American Memory "Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company 1880-1920." (2001) <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/detroit/dethome.html>

Library Division(s)

NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the vast collections of The New York Public Library, including drawings, illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.