The Samovar

hold to light cards

Gary - 10/11/2003 at 17:06

These cards are hard to find, yet I am not aware of much literature about them. Can any member add to our knowledge base on the subject?

The illustration is one of Moscow made in Berlin, Germany. The cut-outs allow light to pass through the card.

htl.jpg - 79kB

Need details

oldteddy - 10/11/2003 at 23:24

Gary, is it possible to see the back of the card and one or two holes FROM BOTH SIDES under HIGHEST resolution possible?

Gary - 10/12/2003 at 03:37

Here is the back of the card scanned at 200 dpi.

htl_back.jpg - 142kB

Gary - 10/12/2003 at 03:38

Here is a small section from the Kremlin buildings scanned at 600 dpi.

holes.jpg - 207kB

Gary - 10/12/2003 at 03:40

Here is the same picture inverted. It appears that these cards may have been constructed in 2 parts. The front part containing the picture with "holes" cut out to allow light to pass when shown on the back of the card.

holes_inv.jpg - 192kB

Still do not undesrstand.

oldteddy - 10/12/2003 at 04:52

Where the source of light should be located - befind the back or in front of the card under some angle? How do you make those scans? Do you have a scanner that allows to scan transparencies?

Gary - 10/12/2003 at 05:30

Excellent questions!

The light source must be behind the card. I scanned the card with the lid/top of the scanner open to allow light in.

My scanner can also scan slides or 35mm negative film as well - one by one that is.


oldteddy - 10/12/2003 at 05:43

Exactly what I thought. The only thing puzzles me now is why those "lights" are not seen from back - paper in the HOLES is of the same thickness from back as from front. Or you didn't scan the back with the scanner lid open? If not would you please do it WITH THE SAME SOURCE OF EXTERNAL LIGHT AS WHEN YOU SCANNED THE FRONT?

Sorry for being so slow but my idea is that those cards are home-made, you can make one (or one thousand) too - take two identical cards, cut holes in the first one, then glue two cards together - and you'll have that effect. Have you noticed that the "holes" are rather rough and not always agree with the "windows"? Same thing as with the hand-painted cards - you always can see "paint" in the wrong areas if to look under some magnification.

Gary - 10/12/2003 at 06:04

The holes do not go all the way through the card.

Here is the back of the card weith the lid open.

htlback1.jpg - 79kB

Gary - 10/12/2003 at 06:05

And not to ignore St. Petersburg, here is one from that city - front and back. It was used in 1901.

htlspbfront.jpg - 100kB

Gary - 10/12/2003 at 06:07

And the back. Part of the information that appears to be crossed out with a pen may indicate that this was sent from a member of one of the many collectors' clubs of that era.

htlspbback.jpg - 103kB

Two cards or one?

oldteddy - 10/12/2003 at 06:12

So the light is not seen from back. Why? As for the holes - if "the theory of two cards" is correct then they [holes] should go all the way through the first card while the second card provides a solid back.

Gary - 10/12/2003 at 06:32

The light may not be seen from the back because the holes do not go all the way through. It is possibe that there are two parts to these cards, but they are not thick enough to be two cards pasted together.

The term I have seen most associated with these "cutouts" is die-cut. However, a hold-to-light (also known as other names) can have several different views, not all of which are holes. I found some information at the URL listed below. However, I cannot state that it is good, bad, or indifferent.

The cards illustrated here appear to have been manufactured in Berlin, Germany circa 1900 or by a firm doing business in/from Berlin.

Different thing

oldteddy - 10/12/2003 at 06:57

Gary, those cards on that site are different from yours. It reminded me something I do not think is appropriate to post on a public web site. I'll write you a personal message later today.

A nice SPb hold to light card

Gary - 6/19/2004 at 17:10

A very nice example of a St. Petersburg scene.



Jeff - 6/28/2004 at 22:18

This is a remarkable subject! A topic I have never heard of before. I hope this will be an article n a future journal!?!?!?!


(in color of course)


Gary - 6/30/2004 at 12:27

I would love to do it, but I have no references. Perhaps a brief one-page article to see if other members can add information?

There has to be more information available. I just do not know where to look for it, yet.

lam - 6/30/2004 at 16:53

Who can explain me how all this is related to philately?

Andrey - 6/30/2004 at 18:03

Iam, all this is related to philately?

That is easy to explain - it is part of Moscow postmark collection...

And who is avid collector of Moscow postmark?

Gary - 7/2/2004 at 15:45


Excellent question. Please send me an email so I have an addressee to send my thoughts.

Gary - 7/17/2004 at 17:47


I am still waiting on your email. :(

achlenov - 7/17/2004 at 19:48

Interestingly on the back of the last card "Otkrytoe pis'mo" [open letter] was crossed out and added "Pechatnoe proizvedenie" [printed art form] in manuscript

Rates Effected?

Jeff - 7/18/2004 at 06:18

Intersting observation on the "name" change for the card. Would that also effect the rate at which the card was sent?


Gary - 7/18/2004 at 17:05

Absolutely. It is like "printed matter/media matter" in its effect on costs.

achlenov - 7/26/2004 at 20:34

When you shine light on the scanner the area appears dark on the picture, did you ever notice? That's because the light generated by the lamp inside the scaner is not reflected back (as from the white piece of paper) into the scanner. That's why one can't see the windows from the back of the card. You don't have to hold this card to light. The light is not going through! It is simply painted on the second card to make the 3-D impression.

Gary - 7/27/2004 at 08:56

You must see these cards "in the flesh." Have you seen one before? The link is a previous message still contains two such die-cut cards.