Friday, March 9, 2012

Monday, February 9, 2009

Postcard Printing History

Post cards can be traced back to 1840 in which is known as the “pre-postcard era” because it was then when lithograph prints appeared, this prints were made in wood and were delivered by hand, then came the envelopes that had pictures in them and where introduced by D. William Mulready.

It was in 1861 that the first real post card came to be by the hands of John P. Charlton who even applied for a patent. They existed until 1873 which was the time when the government began printing its own.

In the United States pre-stamped postcards appeared around 1873 and the USPS was the only entity who was entitled to print them at the time. The interesting part is that when private companies were allowed to do so they couldn’t name their product “postcard” names such as “Private Mailing Card”, “Souvenir Card”, “Correspondence Card” and “Mail Card” where the terms used.

Dr. Emmanuel Hermann is known to have offered the first postcard to the Hungarian government back in 1869, three years later in England the first advertising card appeared, two years after Germany saw their first postcard as well. But fifteen years had to pass before the Heliogland, the first colored postcard in history, saw the light of day. And this was the start, between 1889 and 1890 postcards with pictures of the Eiffel Tower we incredibly popular.

Eight years later the U.S. saw the birth of the first private post cards, this postcards required a one cent stamp (same as government issued ones) to be mailed in, and contrary to those we have today, you could only add the stamp and write the recipients address on them. It was in 1907 when we see the first divided postcards, which allow the sender to write a short message on one side and the recipient information on the other along with the respective stamp.

After the First World War it was the US who got the lead in postcard printing because the usual providers, England and Germany, had their publishing housed bombed and machinery along with original arts was gone. Also publishers in the US, in an effort to low their cost, began to print the cards with a white border; this unfortunately led to loss of interest by collectors and user alike. What was not affected was the production of photographic postcards that were available in roadsides or near the places they depicted, hence the birth of the tradition of sending a postcard when visiting a place.

Then, and by the time the world was ravaged by World War Two, came linen postcards, technology advancements allowed publishing houses to try this new method in an effort to cope with the losses caused by the white border in previous years, but this method only lasted until 1939 when color chrome postcards emerged, even though it is registered that several publishing houses made linen cards even in the 1950s.

From 1939 until today little has changed on the way postcards are made, “photo chrome” is the method of choice and even though e-cards are also on the rise with the dawn of the internet, printed postcards remain very well alive.

How to get your documents ready for printing

So you have a spectacular design for your posters, fliers, postcards or business cards and want to send it for printing, what should you do? What formats are best? How do I know if the size is right?

Well, we’ll discuss about that today, although there is a wide variety of design programs, from Adobe’s top notch Photoshop and Illustrator to the most simple things like Windows Paint with QuarkXPress and others in the middle, formats remain the same for them all: JPEG, TIFF, PSD*. But the key element will always be one and just one: RESOLUTION.

Image resolution refers, in the most simple way, to the amount of “pixels” or little squares per inch that said image has, this is also measured in “dots per inch” or dpi. The higher the resolution, the more points or pixels the image has per every square inch. An image designed for poster printing must have a resolution of at least 300dpi otherwise it’ll look as it was made of little squares and without any smoothness.

When you prepare a file for printing make sure you leave a little on the edges, meaning, make it a little bigger, if, for example, you want your material to be printed on a 8.5” x 11” page, make your image 9” x 11.5” that way everything you need will be in the center and what is not needed may be lost during printing. This is a very common and useful tip that designers and publishers give to customers.

Then comes the format, not matter how big o how small a printing company is, they will be able to use any format you give to them for printing, though, for the sake of quality, it’s better to know what formats are best, for example, JPEG (or JPG) is a format commonly used on the web because of its compression rate, for printing it is not recommend precisely because of that, it is better if you bring a file on TIFF (if you have to e-mail it), PSD is best (if you have a broadband connection or if you will bring it personally on any media form) because it will keep the resolution intact and the smoothness will be perfect.



*This is Adobe Photoshop’s proprietary format.