Postcard collector Lon Black has a knack for unearthing the correspondance of yesterday year—not to mention the beautiful vintage prints hand-selected by the sender to go along with the message. This Friday his show, “Greetings from New York City” opens at The City Reliquary, and features the best vintage vistas from Black’s 42 year old (and counting) collection of over 10,000 missive treasures. Here he speaks a little about his personal relationship with the postcard—as an image, and as a way to send a thought.
Can you remember the first time you were romanced by an old postcard? Where were you and what postcard was it?
Not one particular postcard, but printed and photographic images in general. I had relatives who kept (as most people did then) correspondence, photos, mementos and keepsakes. They were stored away until I uncovered them. I appreciated everything old, but was especially attracted to quality printing and beautiful images printed on paper. Most interesting to me were the postcards. This is going back to my early teen years
What is it about the medium of postcards that attracts you?
Postcards often bear images that are not seen anywhere else. They are designed for the public. They are compact pieces of art (fine or kitschy—it’s all good!). In the case where the postcard has the human touch (inscribed and mailed by the sender) it adds another dimension to it. It adds personality. The energy of the person, long dead, is still in the card. That is the subject of the exhibit at The City Reliquary.
I always have the best intention of mailing post cards when I’m on vacation, but I usually forget. As a collector, does that mean you are a post card mailer as well? Where’s the furthest you’ve sent one from?
Beginning in 1962, my mother, grandmother and I packed up the car and took a week’s driving vacation. The first few years it was Michigan, with a stop in Niagara Falls and a jaunt though Quebec. Later, it was the coast of Maine. Postcard writing and sending was an obligatory act for my grandmother. Since I emulated her, I purchased my own group of postcards, writing mundane messages on them and sending them off to relatives and friends. It has been many years since I’ve sent postcards from a vacation spot. One trip that I’ve taken regularly for the past 25 years is to Florida. I sent postcards for the first couple years. But I gave up because the same postcards were offered by stores each year. (In fact, they still haven’t changed much.) And I had more enjoyable things to do with my time. Many postcards are sent from Florida to annoy Northerners during the winter.Furthest I’ve sent one from? I think Acapulco.
Haven’t really noticed. They’re sent for so many reasons. The recipient could be someone you’re courting; in business with; married to, etc. Often there is no closing; just the person’s name.
And so we’ll sign off this internet postcard with a funny one from the master’s collection.