I had thought that leather postcards were uncommon until I looked on Ebay, where I found hundreds of them on offer, all of American origin. I learnt that the leather postcard had its heyday in the last decade of the 1800’s and the first decade of the 1900’s, when they were largely replaced by commercially printed postcards, in great abundance. The writing and illustration on leather postcards were often produced by a burning technique, although the technique of printing on American leather postcards was prevalent in the early 1900’s.
My one and only Australian leather postcard was acquired many years ago, and it shows evidence of printing or ink-stamping on the front (as evidenced by the POST CARD and horizontal lines for the address) and a crude burning process on the reverse. The red 1d NSW shield stamp is postmarked COOMA/ 1906 and it was addressed to Miss Ida Chambers, 268 Abercrombie St., Golden Grove, Redfern, and it has a fine REDFERN/ 2 MR 06 12 45 AM/ N.S.W arrival postmark (Figure 1).
The rather crudely drawn comical pair of men, one on a bicycle and the other riding a water cart, pulled by two donkeys, have been coloured by red and green painting and the artist has gone to considerable trouble in cross-hatching the animals. This drawing looks more like an ink drawing, but the triangular splotches along the top and right sided borders were probably due to burnings. The writing along the bottom reads as follows:
“I’m on the water wagon, I will take care I do not fall
Quite true, Give him back to me, It is the only one I have” (Figure 2).
A second leather postcard of American origin had a definite Australian content. It was commercially produced, it had a 2 cent red U.S.A. Washington stamp postmarked Fernandina, FLA, March 8, 1907, and was addressed to a Burswood Perth, Western Australia address. It showed a manuscript ‘Due’, a stamped ‘T’ in a circle, as well as a stamped ‘CENTIMES/ 15/ N.Y.’ in a circle.
A fine copy of the completed design second series Australian Postage Due stamp with a purple 17.4.07 manuscript cancel had been added. In addition, there was a very faint purple stamping “CARRIED AT/ LETTER RATE/ FOREIGN STA, NY”which explains why the correct postcard rate of 2 cents was insufficient as the card was considered to be a letter by the American postal service!( Figure 3).
The illustrated side had 3 drawings: a man kissing a woman, a bottle of champagne with a glass and a sheet of music, plus a man with a FOOL’s cap. The printed message was as follows:
“Who loves not Women/ Wine and song/ Will be A fool/ His whole Life long” (Figure 4).
In manuscript it was sent on March 8 1907, and it had a PERTH/ 17 AP 1907/ WESTERN AUSTRALIA reception postmark. This must be an almost unique leather postcard, particularly in regards to the tax and duty stamp applied.