The First Non-State Picture Postcard

by Gary Combs and Bill Nickle

In his article "Invitation to the Hunt" posted on the Rossica site, Philip Robinson illustrates an early picture postcard. The ensuing discussion attempts to trace the first authorized non-state picture postcard with references to various works as the source of information.

This follow-up sheds more light on the subject and, of course, keeps the dialog open for new information. I decided to do a separate article since the amount of information would be a bit too much in the original discussion.

But Gary, you only do Moscow. What are you up to now? Good question, thought you'd never ask. The answer is elementary my dear Watson. The first acknowledged picture postcards were of Moscow scenes. Eat your heart out SPB and choo-choo fans.

The reference names appearing to date are: Tagrin, Faynstein, Sabotchen, Shleev, Babintsev, and Nebenzahl. Other authors include Chapkin, Kombolin, and a lesser known Peter James. I would like to add to this list Dr. Richard Bartmann and his work "Picture Postcard Encyclopedia" published in Germany in 1986. And last, but definitely not least, Bill Nickle. Bill is a noted deltiologist with over 15,000 picture postcards in his collection and a lot of knowledge on the subject.

After Philip's article appeared, I approached Bill seeking information. He has graciously provided information and promises more pictures, when he has time to do it.

Edward Bubis suggests that we may have two (or more) separate issues here. Are we talking about "state" produced postcards with pictures added? Are we talking about private/commercial postcards with pictures? Or both? Or what?

Should we separate postcards into, for example, those that are of Russian origin and those that were produced outside of Russia that have Russian scenes with the text in Cyrillic (or with French or?)? Even though produced within the confines of the Russian Empire, can we separate those that are not truly Russian in origin? What I mean is that Philip's card is not of Russian origin per se and the text is not in Cyrillic.

Let's discuss it.