Have you ever heard of aluminium postcards?
Françoise Valette, a Delcampe member, introduced them to me in her book “Flânerie dans la carte postale aluminium”, a 212- page reference work with over 400 postcards illustrating the topic. I felt I absolutely had to share this very unique theme with you!
100% aluminium postcards first appeared at the start of the century. If you look at the back of the postcards, you’ll see they aren’t split, as was the case in France prior to 1903.
Aluminium was a very important material in France at the start of the 20th century. The Maurienne Valley, where it originates, had at least six operating aluminium production plants from 1892 to 1907.
Aluminium is a light and flexible metal. This characteristic gave birth to the concept of the aluminium postcard, which was more original than the paper postcard. Aluminium postcards were initially made entirely from this metal and printed with black ink.
The motifs varied: realistic and humorous drawings and sometimes photos… the back of the cards had space for the address and a stamp.
Aluminium postcards were also used in countries other than France. In Italy, for example, there were aluminium postcards at the First International Exposition of Modern Decorative Arts in Turin in 1902. Other countries also used this unusual means of correspondence including Spain, England, the United States, and more.
Some artists earned their reputation via this medium. For example, Achille Beltram in Milan…
100% aluminium postcards disappeared in the early 20th century, to be replaced by “hybrid” postcards. They were made of paper but contained some aluminium elements, which made them shiny. Quite a few embossed fantasy postcards used the process, notably many postcards for the holidays, like Christmas, Easter, and for April 1st. Note that aluminium postcards belong to the golden age of postcards, a time when postcards were sent daily. Paper postcards with aluminium were used between 1905 and 1935.
Françoise Valette introduces us to three of the postcards in her collection. They are included in her book, which covers subjects, countries and eras to provide a complete understanding of the treasures you will discover in it.
Here are two types of nymphs: one is on a shell on wheels drawn by little angels and the other is making bubbles in the air.
Nymphs are maidens from Greco-Roman mythology associated with nature (in fact, “nymph” comes from the Greek for maiden).
They personify the creative and productive aspects of nature and are sometimes linked to a place or a particular element. They were sometimes the object of a local cult and were also included in the processions of the divinities with which they are associated.
In the collective imagination and on these postcards, nymphs are very beautiful, joyous young women.
The Concorde was an iconic aircraft developed jointly by Sud-Aviation and the British Aircraft Corporation in service from 1976 to 2003. If was used by both British Airways and Air France. The aeroplane is unfortunately famous for the accident which occurred in July 2000, killing 113 people.
Are you interested in this subject? Be sure to get Françoise Valette’s book. Editions Defage – aluminium on paper from the 1970s – n° 14
The book is on sale on www.delcampe.net Flânerie dans la carte postale aluminium. Happy reading!
Thank you for your interesting article on aluminium postcards. I have some aluminium cards in my collection: mainly views of Edinburgh. I also have accompanying normal cards with exactly the same views, for a number of them. Sometimes the aluminium cards are enhanced with glitter or some other embellishment. Initially they were produced with pointed corners but later, all had to be issued with rounded corners for they often cut the fingers of postmen. Even this did not work, for regulations were soon issued ordering them to be sent within a stamped/addressed envelope to prevent such injury to postmen. This meant that the cards became even more unpopular, for postage of an envelope was twice as expensive as a postcard. As a result, postally used aluminium cards are vey hard to find and I have only one such example.