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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Copyright Infringed?

What a Difference a Decade Can Make!

These two post cards look extremely similar.
The titles are even almost the same title. If you look at the clouds in the background they are the same shape. There is a dead tree on the right-hand side of both post cards, too. Even the oranges are growing in the same spots on the trees. I have to admit that I much prefer the top card to the bottom one.

This is a good illustration of how either a) the post card publishers ignored the copyright rules, or b) how one company who owned the copyright sold the same picture to two different publishers. Both of these were common in the early days of post card publishing and selling.

In order to find the answer to this “question” one must turn the post cards over.
When you do, you can see that the top post card was mailed on May 6, 1911 (the clear postmark) and the bottom one was mailed around March 11, 1923 (the hand written date and only the year on the postmark).

The top card was published by the Newman Post Card Co. in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. Founded in 1907, they were a publisher and printer of lithographic postcards, mostly views of southern California, with some cards of Hawaii and Nevada and the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. They were related to the O. Newman Company. In the 1960s they were purchased by H.S Crocker and so they kind of still exist. It was printed by the Van Ornum Colorprint Company out of Los Angeles. This company was in existence from 1908 to 1921. Knowing the dates of these two companies, we can date this card to between 1907 and 1921. We can, of course, date it even closer because the postmark says May 6, 1911.

The bottom card was published by the M. Kashower Co. of Los Angeles. They existed from 1914 to 1934. These publishers used a variety of printers to produce their comic cards, holiday greetings, and view-cards of southern California. This card, too, was printed by the Van Ornum Colorprint Company. We could do the math to figure out between which years the post card could have been printed, but the postmark tells us it was mailed in 1923.

My conclusion to the question above is that the Van Ornum Company owned the print and sold it first to the Newman Post Card Company then to the M. Kashower Company. Maybe they got around any copyright agreements by changing the title on the front from “Entering Southern California” to simply “Entering California”.

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