Follow by Email

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Development of the Linen Post Card

Continuing on the theme of Pikes Peak, I have scanned three post cards from the Linen Post Card era.

Two of these cards are from 1939 and 1941. Because the third one is postally unused, I cannot tell you the exact age of the card. Two of them are from the H.H. Tammen Company which existed from 1896 to 1953; the other is from the E. C. Kropp Company, which existed from 1907 to 1956.

I chose the top two, not because they share the same picture, but because they share the same picture on two different types of card stock.

The post card on the left is from the White Border Era (1915-1930). The card stock is smooth and shiny, although certainly not as shiny as a Chrome Post Card. The white border was developed on post cards for the printers and publishers to save money on the cost of ink. While printing on post card may not seem like a large savings, if one multiplies that amount of unprinted space by the millions of post cards printed during this era, it adds up to a huge savings.

The post card on the right looks like it is from the Linen Post Card Era (1930-1945). While saving money in the same manner as the previous era, the publishers added a quality to the post card. In a system of paper making adding rag content into the paper used for card stock, the paper took on a textured feeling. Rumor has it that Curt Otto Teich might have invented this style of card. If he didn’t invent it, he certainly perfected it!

This card is not from the Curt Teich Company. It is from the H.H. Tammen Company. I am not convinced that it is an actual Linen Post Card. As I hold it up to the light and feel the texture, I am thinking that the printer simply ran the card through a machine that texturized the card. I have tried to scan a close-up of the linen-style card so that you can see the texture difference. You can see a regular pattern of squares that have what look like indentations into the post card. These indents show best on the white border.

I think the H. H. Tammen Company either made linen cards of much lesser quality than the Curt Teich Company or did their best to imitate the look and feel of a linen card without going through the real process. So, when I hold the two H.H. Tammen cards from above next to each other, the quality difference is sort of obvious. But, when I hold this H.H. Tammen card next to a Curt Teich Linen Era Post Card the difference jumps out at me.

The H.H. Tammen Company was based in Denver, Colorado. It was founded by Harry Heye Tammen, who was born in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1881 he and his business partner started H.H. Tammen and Company. That name changed in 1896 when they added two more partners: Carl Litzenberger and Joseph Cox. The new company was called the H.H. Tammen Curio Company.

The bottom post card is included in this set simply because it, too, shows the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway in the Spring with snow on either side of the tracks. It seems to have been taken from very close to where the other picture was taken. This post card was printed by the E. C. Kropp Company. The company was founded in 1907 and based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin until they were sold to L.L. Cook in 1956. E.C. Kropp began publishing and printing in 1898 but, became the E.C. Kropp Company in 1907. I understand that they produced some high quality linen cards, but I don’t have any in my train post card collection.

This post card was printed for the publisher “Garden of the Gods”, which is a tourist destination down the hill from Pikes Peak in Colorado. The story of the “Famous Balanced Rock” is interesting but not related to my train post cards other than the passing reference on this post card. You can read its story here: These are the backs of the three cards.
There are only two pictures because the H.H. Tammen Company didn't change the back from one style of post card to the other. So, I chose this one because there is an official stamp at the top telling us that someone was up on the top of Pikes Peak on August 17, 1941. The other H.H. Tammen post card is postmarked from July 19, 1939 - just a few short months before World War II began with the invasion of Poland.


  1. I think all the linen textures came from a machine, not the rag content of the paper. The Linen Postcards book has an example of an early (1919) type they call "Transitional Linens" with a very fine perpendicular texture and less vibrant colors than later Linens.

  2. Although white border postcards saved on ink, the original reason for the borders was probably to make cutting the cards easier by less skilled workers.


    The Metropolitan Postcard Club website also has information about the manufacture of linen postcards:


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