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The History of Post Cards and the Sewickley Post Card Book

Signals, November 2006

To be held: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 7:30 p.m. Sewickley Public Library Community Room

Susan Holton and Harton Semple, the staff of the Sewickley Valley Historical Society, and authors, with B. G. Shields, of the recently published postcard history Sewickley, will present a program about postcards. A short history will be followed by a power-point presentation of Sewickley postcard images, some of which appear in the book, plus some—from the Historical Society’s collection and others—that have not been seen before.

The private mailing card, which could be sent at a one-cent rate, was first allowed by an Act of Congress in 1898, and sending postcards became both inexpensive and fashionable. In 1908, 677,777,798 postcards were mailed in the United States, which only had a population of 88 million — about eight cards for every single person!

The popularity of the postal card waned as the telephone was used increasingly for conveying short messages and “keeping in touch,” although the construction of the interstate highway system temporarily encouraged the use of a whole new stock of cards celebrating America’s scenic byways. In the 1950s, card and postage costs began to climb, and soon a mailing a postcard cost two cents, rising from there to the current 23 cents.

Today, the humble postcard has become quite an investment! E-mail and instant messaging will presumably soon provide the coup de grace for this venerable means of communication. Come and see the Historical Society’s stock of postcards—you’ll be amazed at how many there are, and they provide an excellent way to view and appreciate our town’s history.


National Trust Tour

On Friday, November 3, the Sewickley Valley Historical Society conducted an all-day motor coach tour entitled Preserving 200 Years of Community for attendees at the national convention of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Tour guides were Peggy Dury, Liza Nevin, Mary Beth Pastorius and Joe Zemba; and the stops included Sewickley Cemetery, Old Sewickley Post Office, A.M.E. Zion Church, Newington, Lark Inn, Allegheny Country Club, Farmhill Dairy, Sewickley Heights History Center and Muottas—with comments on everything in-between. Reviews from the visitors were all positive. The Historical Society thanks everyone who helped make the tour a success. It presented the Sewickley Valley in a most positive light, with its gorgeous fall foliage, its diversity and its landmark architecture.

Susan Holton, Joe Zemba and Mary Beth Pastorius at Newington

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