Real Photo Postcards came into vogue during the first few years of the 20th Century. There were several reasons for this. In 1905 the United States Postal Service introduced a special rate for postcards – one penny. This cheap rate began a nationwide boon of a postcard mailing. Another contributing factor to the surge in postcard business was the introduction of Rural Free Delivery (RFD). RFD provided for the free delivery of mail and mail services to people living in the country. This meant that a person didn’t have to travel to town to pick up their mail or buy stamps.
One of the most important factors was the introduction of the Kodak No. 3A Folding Pocket Camera. This camera provided the photographer with the option of printing pictures on postcard-back paper. A small door on the backside of the camera could be opened and a caption could be written on the negative with a small scribe. Starting in 1907 Kodak began to offer a service called “real photo postcards” (RPPCs) that allowed photographers to create a postcard from any photo taken.
Countless RPPCs were taken by the average citizen of family events, vacations, everyday life, or special occasions in their community. Other RPPCs were taken by entrepreneurs who traveled from small town to small town, recording events or taking family portraits and then selling copies.
The majority of the postcards depicted in this exhibit are from the 1910-1920 period of McPherson’s history and represent just a small portion of the McPherson Museum’s RPPC collection. They deal with the advertising of businesses, sports, special celebrations, and everyday life in and around the town.