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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Real Photo Postcards - Portraits: The Brian Smolens Collection

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Real Photo Postcards - Portraits
The Brian Smolens Collection

Brian Smolens has assembled a remarkable collection of over 8,500 real photo postcard portraits. The archive primarily covers the period 1905-1920 in the USA and was assembled over a 35-year period.
The archive is subdivided into nearly 500 categories including:
  • Couples
  • Children
  • Occupational portraits
  • Actors in costume
and this online exhibition includes a sampling.
The archive is composed solely of real photo postcards, a specific photographic format from the early 20th century. Although the more widely known picture postcards were printed mass-market items, the real photo postcards comprising the archive are individually developed photographs. Many were unique prints originally and most of the remainder are the only surviving copies.
The real photo postcard is generally considered vernacular photography, although many of the images are of professional quality. Many of the photographers are identified but they are rarely known to photography collectors. The collection was partially inspired by the work of August Sander and intended to be a comprehensive view of early 20th century American people and culture.
Although there are a few highly sophisticated collectors of real photo postcards, such as cosmetics executive Leonard Lauder, most photography dealers and collectors remain unaware of the significance of this photographic format. One of the truly great real photo postcard collections to be created was assembled by Andreas Brown, noted New York bookseller and author of Prairie Fires and Paper Moons: The American Photographic Postcard, 1900-1920. Much of the Andreas Brown collection was subsequently sold to The J. Paul Getty Museum, but is not believed to be publicly exhibited.
About Vintage Images:
Vintage Images has published and distributed postcards, greeting cards and other products since the mid-1980ís. The archive was started in support of this endeavor, but subsequently transcended its original purpose.
Brian Smolens
Vintage Images
[This collection is currently being offered for sale.] 



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