These treasures are on loan to me from my friend Delphine. She told me she recently inherited her uncle's postcard collection, and knowing my love of Real Mail and ephemera, she wanted me to take a look at them and hopefully brainstorm some display ideas.
It turns out they are not postcards but multiview souvenir folders, the likes of which I had not seen before. These were collected during her uncle's travels, not mailed, though a few have names penciled on the address lines.
Most of the linen-like cover-weight folders contain 16 to 20 images on a double-sided accordion folded text-weight interior panel. Three views of Greater Chicago include New Post Office, Outer Drive, Link Bridge, and Skyline, and Art Institute.
One of the folders, called An Art Folder, from Salt Lake City and Scenic Utah contains 36 views printed on two separate panels. It weighs just over an ounce.
Those with copyright dates printed on them range from 1934 to 1944, and most state that "postage without message" is 1-1/2 cents. The folder from Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica, California appears to be the oldest in the lot but has no copyright noted. The upper right corner reads "Postage without message one cent--with message two cents."
All are from cities, states, or regions in the United States, except for one from Niagara Falls, Canada. It provides an excellent example of an intact folder, showing the top angled flap that tucks into a slit across the lower portion.
Many of the folders have torn at the slit, and a few have lost their top flaps. For a moment, the mail artist in me imagined adding these lovely papers to collages, but the conservator took over, and I enjoyed matching all the detached pieces to the appropriate folders. I then gave each a protective sleeve. I'm still working on (kid-friendly) display ideas, but I'm thinking something with a postal or travel theme.
The construction of the folders inspired me to make my own, and I think I may use them as my very first mail art add-and-pass project.