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Planes by Post: Transportation in Post Cards

Since the inception of postcards into the public arena in the mid-19th century, various methods of transportation have been the the subjects of postcards. These postcards, then, can be seen to document the history of transportation in a way different than any other text documenting the story of various transportation methods. 

In this exhibit we explore the way that post cards treat airplanes, though many other modes of transportation have been heavily featured on postcards in the past century. A fairly noticeable divide appears between images or illustrations of planes used in war or for military purposes and those that represent a more commercial side of the airline industry. Therefore, this exhibit has been divided into two sections: one discussing post cards featuring military planes and another dealing with postcards that make use of commercial airplanes and travel. Even cards within the same category (war planes or commercial planes) use images and the post card medium to perpetuate different messages and ideas; several of those ideas are explored and analyzed in this exhibit. This, in turn, demonstrates the wide versatility of postcards.

Even by examining these two different styles of postcard, one can see a distinct change in audience and message behind the cards; a change reflective, perhaps, of the era in which each card was made or used. 


Lowe, James L. Standard Postcard Catalog. Ridley Park, PA: Deltiologists of America, 1982. Print.


Chelsea Moore, Patrick O'Neill, Evans Prater