RRI Encyclopedia - Postcards in Romania

rri encyclopedia - postcards in romania A short history of postcards in Romania

There have always been people for whom collecting postcards is their number one hobby. Emerged towards the end of the 19th century, postcards quickly became an effective means of communication. Today it's become a miniature art object, and a piece of our daily lives.



The first postcards in Romania are dated back to the end of the 19th century. "The Law on postcards", sanctioned under Decree no. 789 of March 31, 1873, provided the legal framework for sending these small greetings letters that people could exchange when going on trips or visiting new places. Engineer Mihail Macri is a philatelist and deltiologist. He told us how this small paperboard object eventually took on more meaning in the lives of Romanians:



"The first postcards appeared in 1994. A number of three postcards were released to mark the exhibition in Bucharest. The following postcards were issued in 1895 in Wallachia and Moldavia. They were published in Constanța. One of them is known to the public, but I am certain there were three of them, and they were all linked to the inauguration of the bridge in Cernavodă. The postcard has a red background, I've seen it in the private holdings of a collector from Constanța. But other postcards were also issued in Timișoara or Arad, in cities in Transylvania between 1892-1893. Some of them, which were edited in Vienna and Budapest, have endured to this day".



Originally Romania ordered postcards from Western countries. Not before long, however, they started being printed in the country as well. Mihail Macri:



"Romanian didn't have printing presses for postcards at the time. The first Romanian postcards were printed in Germany and Austria. Then, the Romanian publishing houses in the south, which would initially import postcards, started hiring illustrators, as there was no shortage of themes. We had good photographers, and a wide variety of themes. The first postcards were lithographies, and the print-run depended on the limestone's lifespan, which wouldn't be very long. There are classic postcards where you can notice huge differences in terms of quality - the image starts fading and you can no longer see the general details. The whole image starts to flow and certain parts of the image are faded. Then the limestone is replaced. The minimum print-run was 500 issues, sometimes on more pleasant topics. At different times the print-run would exceed 3,000, although this was a very costly business".



People today are accustomed to the standard format of the postcard: an image on the front, while the back has a blank space where you can write a few words. The recipient is written on the right, where you also need to place the stamp. Every object has its history and evolution over the years, and postcards too have undergone multiple transformations. Mihail Macri with the details:



"The original postcard contained the written text and a stamp, no image whatsoever. The recipient's address was marked on the front and the text on the back. With the advancement of photography and printing technology in the 1880s, publishers had the idea of using lithography. Photography was still in its early days. With the use of this procedure, postcards became illustrated. At first, the picture would be displayed on the left side on the front of the postcard, while the stamp sat on the right. The address was written below while the text itself was on the back. Prices would differ extensively, from a postcard with two lines and a stamp, or sometimes the postcard would be sold without a stamp for 2-3 bani. Others were more expensive, 1-2 lei. The difference was huge and not everyone afforded to be literate. The lithography covered most of the front, save a small corner on the right, at times in the upper corner, at others at the bottom, and very rarely on the left, where you could write a few words. Other postcards had no textbox whatsoever. In 1907 the Universal Postal Union decided that the back of postcards should have separate areas for the text, the left, and for the stamp and the address, on the right. This format has been preserved to this day".

Who were the people usually sending postcards? Mihail Macri:


"More often than not people who knew how to write. In Transylvania, for instance, the priests used to send postcards. The run was larger in this area for this reason. Yet the correspondence was also active in large cities in Wallachia and Moldavia. Romania's foreign correspondence targeted France and Italy, where Romanians in the southern principalities would go. Romanians in Transylvania corresponded with Austria and Germany. Not everyone could write and not everyone had family in Paris. These were usually wealthier people".


Romanian postcards continued to keep track of eastern tendencies and technical advancements that improved their quality. The advent of color photography also helped influence the design of postcards, introducing an era of change.

(Translated by V. Palcu)



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Publicat: 2020-10-25 14:00:00
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