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Monday, April 4, 2011

Copyright Infringement?

Comparing the fronts of these two cards, we could easily come to the conclusion that they are the same picture. Because one is darker than the other, we might think that the only difference is that they were printed earlier and later in the same print run. That is almost the correct story.
These are the same picture.

They are pictures of the Hanging Bridge in the Royal Gorge, in the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River in Colorado. The descriptions on the backs of the cards have the exact same wording. They were even both printed by the same company; that is what the little critter on the top, middle of the card indicates. “He” is the logo of the H. H. Tammen Curio Company of Denver, Colorado. It existed from 1896 to 1953 at its last known address: 1516 Arapahoe Street, Denver, CO.
But, at first glance, it looks as if the same picture was printed by two different companies. It could make us wonder about copyright infringement. However, if you look in the left margin of the cards you will see that they were published by two companies with very similar names: The Van Noy-Interstate Co. and The Interstate Co. This led me to want to delve deeper into the mystery of the publishing companies. Here is what I have found.

Van Noy Railway Hotel and News began a series of mergers and acquisitions in 1914, starting with the Brown News Company (also headquartered in Kansas City) which was acquired on October 1, 1914 began operating as Van Noy News. In 1915, the Company began consolidating operations with the New York City based Interstate News Company. The company name was then changed to The Van Noy Interstate News Company in 1917, but the company headquarters remained in Kansas City under the leadership of Ira C. Van Noy. As a result of changes in railroad passenger train service, Van Noy Interstate began to focus more on the hotel side of their operations. In 1922, the Company acquired the Gem Fountain Company, and in 1926 the company began operating as the Interstate Company.
Both cards belong to the “White Border Era”, which lasted from about 1915 to 1930. The card printed by The Van Noy-Interstate Company was published first – sometime between 1917 and 1926. The card published by The Interstate Company was printed between 1926 and 1930.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.