A popular craze includes an interesting collection
that chronicles Jewish history.
ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM ASSOCIATE EDITOR
‘S-THEREMEAVVIDEDFORTHE ISRAELI TES
Top: Mailed from St. Louis
in 1930, "Frankie" sent this
card, showing a scone from
a beach in Israel, to "Dolly"
Above: This colorized card
of the Kotel was printed in
Right: This 1966 card
shows a banner used in a
1960s "redemption" march
on behalf of Soviet Jewry,
in which 15,000 students
here are plenty from Detroit and Grand Rapids, but not a one
from Southfield. Mt. Clemens has its share, and there are any
number from Troy — but they all read Big Beaver, the name
of the city at the turn of the century.
These days, postcards are getting the stamp of approval
Local fans are, naturally, primarily interested in Michigan,
with some of the most coveted cards showing small cities in
the state pre-1917. Because there was no Southfield then, of course
there are no Southfield postcards. But Mt. Clemens, with its hot
springs, was a popular resort, and so, too, a popular postcard sub-
In the past 12 years, postcards have become the third-most col-
lected item, behind stamps and coins, in the United States. (It had
been in fourth place until last year when baseball struck out, and so
did third-place baseball cards.)
And to think — it all started with a Viennese resident of Jewish
Dr. Emmanuel Hen-mann was an instructor of political economy
at the Military Academy of Vienna who, in an 1896 ar-
ticle in the Neue Freie Presse, introduced the concept of
the "postal card."
Its value, he said, was obvious: "Officially or private-
ly produced (it) ... assures open communication thanks
to the public service of the post."
The director of the Austro-Hungarian postal system
was convinced. So were other postmasters. By 1874,
dozens of countries, including Germany, the United
States, France, Spain and Belgium, were using post-
cards. Literally millions of them had been mailed by the
late 1800s, and at the 1900 Paris World Fair, postcards
were the rage.
Today, the most popular cards with Jewish themes
invariably show Israel. Who hasn't seen those floating
visitors, newspapers in hand, at the Dead Sea, or the
ubiquitous men at the Kotel, or Jaffa orange trees?
But in earlier years, printers and photographers were
more clever. Postcards have charted Jewish history with
such themes as the story of the Exodus, the rise of Zion-
ism, the Dreyfus affair and scenes from the Yiddish the-
Among local businesses dealing in postcards is Ab-
bott's Coinex in Birmingham, which has several hun-
dred Jewish postcards depicting everything from victims
of a pogrom to the Kotel. Collectors and interested buy-
ers will have the opportunity to view these and other
cards at the county fairgrounds in Kalamazoo, where a
major postcard show will be held April 15.
Matt Abbott, vice president of Abbott's Coinex, knows
just about everything there is to know about postcards.
He knows about the treasures, like an advertising card with an il-
lustration by Alphonse Mucha, valued at $13,500. He knows about
the collectibles — that is, anything showing scenes that have altered
dramatically. A park in 1940 still in existence today is not likely to
have changed much, but keep an eye out for theater districts replaced
by towering office buildings.
One of Abbott's most recent purchases was a 55,000-card collec-
tion owned by David Keever of Grosse Pointe. Purchased for $23,000,
it includes a number of cards from pre-state Israel. All were print- LO
ed in Switzerland and Germany, which tells Mr. Abbott they have
been around for more than 80 years.
Until 1914, he explains, postcards were printed either in Switzer- ti
land or Germany. They also were subject to the whim of the print-
er, who started out with only black-and-white photographs. "Then CC
they used the colors they thought things should be," Mr. Abbott <ZC
explains. Which is how the same mosque in Jerusalem comes to be
topped in green, blue or red.
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