Postcards – A Brief History

The Pioneer Era of Post Cards: On June 1, 1871, Canada issued a pre-stamped, picture less post card. It was called a postal stationery card and was sold for one cent at the post office. The cost included both the card and the delivery to any address within the Dominion.
According to the 1871 Department Order No. 7 which authorized the government printed post card “The front or stamped side of the card is to be used for the address only, There must be nothing else either written or printed upon it.” And “On the other or reverse side, any communication whether of the nature of a letter or otherwise, may be written or printed.”
Postal Stationery Cards were used for business purposes to make appointments, confirm orders and arrange deliveries.

On December 9, 1897 the Post Office announced that “designs, illustrations, portraits, sketches or other forms of advertisement may be engraved, lithographed, printed, etc., on the ‘address’ side of the one-cent Post Card.”

The Private Mailing Card: 1898 marked the end of the Pioneer Era and the beginning of the Private Mailing Card (PMC). Again, only the address was allowed to be written on the stamp side, and space was left around the image for any message from the sender.

Also found on many post cards was “Postal Card – Carte Postale” which indicated it was allowed to enter the international mail system.

Written in English and French on the stamp side of the postal card:

The Divided Back: In December 1903 one of the most important changes in Canadian post card history occurred. The Official Postal Guide announced “The department has authorized…that a space may be reserved for communication on the face of the cards to the left of the address… This space must be marked off from the address section by a vertical line…”

One of the first penny post cards


1915 post card used by the city of Calgary
Back of the City of Calgary post card showing electric charges








Advertising was another use of the early post cards


Another use of the postcard for advertising