Detroit Publishing Company postcards

Collection Data

Approximately 14,500 postcards by the Detroit Publishing Company, one of the largest American publishers of postcards and photographic views during the early decades of the 20th century. The collection was donated to the Library in 1986 by Leonard Lauder, executive, philanthropist, and art collector. Postcards show tourist and recreational attractions and facilities, natural features; monuments; streets, residences, government buildings, military facilities and training; religious buildings including churches and missions, commercial and industrial buildings; colleges, libraries, museums, schools, organizations' buildings, railroads, (including views of the California Limited in which William Henry Jackson traveled to photograph and promote the Detroit Publishing line), canals, ships, harbors, lighthouses; historic and literary sites; portraits, including Native Americans, Chinese Americans and African Americans (including racial stereotypes), political, literary and other famous figures; tombs of famous people and other views of cemeteries; parks, including national parks; sports; yachts; the Panama-California International Exposition and the Panama Pacific International Exposition; animals and birds; plants and trees including garden and wildflower series; agriculture; fishing industry; steel industry; pottery industry; automobiles; interiors of buildings; views in other countries including Canada, Cuba, England, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Also included are art reproductions, cartoon series (including Gibson Girls), views of Japanese "girls," cowboys and cowgirls, and other western views. Some views are duplicated. The views were primarily made using the color Photochrom process and a later process derived from Photochrom called Phostint; some views are sepia tone as well. The collection includes images from the earliest 1898 Photochrom publications, through the last series using the Detroit Publishing imprint, which was begun in 1931. The images were published by the Detroit Publishing Company and were also printed for other publishers and distributors, including Fred Harvey and others. The postcards are arranged by Detroit Publishing Company number. An annotated copy of Lowe & Papell, Detroit Publishing Company Collectors' Guide, 1975, serves as finding aid to the collection.
Detroit Publishing Co. (Publisher)
Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942 (Photographer)
Lauder, Leonard (Collector)
Dates / Origin
Date Issued: 1898 - 1931
Place: Detroit
Publisher: Detroit Publishing Company
Library locations
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection
Shelf locator: MFY 95-29
Government facilities
Monuments & memorials
National parks and reserves
United States
Acquisition: Gift of Leonard Lauder, 1986
Biographical/historical: The Detroit Photographic Company originated in 1898 to promote a new color printing process in the United States and to capitalize on the public's interest in sending inexpensive pictorial greetings. In 1905 the firm became the Detroit Publishing Company, continuing to use the trade name "Phostint" for its patented color reproduction process. Western landscape photographer William Henry Jackson was long associated with the firm, joining the company in 1898 and bringing his and other photographers' negatives to the image stock published by the company. (He became director of production in 1903.) Photographers' names are not associated with individual postcard images, although art reproductions and illustration series are credited. Diminishing sales and rising competition from rival firms sent the Detroit Publishing Company into receivership in 1924, and its assets were finally liquidated in 1932
Physical Description
Offset photomechanical prints
Extent: Approx. 14,500 photomechanical prints (postcards) : most col. ; 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" or smaller
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12647398
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 439afdd0-c62b-012f-66d1-58d385a7bc34
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