The Bakelite Travelcade

Bakelite was one of the first plastics made from synthetic components. It was developed in 1907 by the chemist Leo Baekeland. Bakelite was advertised as a material of more than a thousand uses. It was used for its electrical nonconductivity and heat-resistant properties in electrical insulators, radio and telephone casings. Other uses included kitchenware, jewelry, pipe stems, children’s toys, and firearms. Many of the products had a streamlined futuristic design.

The Bakelite Travelcade was a touring exhibition featuring “Modern Plastics for Modern Living.” The exhibit was shown at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the New York Museum of Science and Industry, the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh, and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. It also served as the company’s exhibit at the New York World’s Fair.

This postcard is from the New York Museum of Science and Industry where the Bakelite Travelcade was exhibited during March, 1938. A series of panels framed by streamlined pylons told the Bakelite story. Colorful, animated exhibits emphasized the part that plastics played in industry, the home, and in daily life. Visitors could watch a hydraulic molding press turning spoonfuls of powder into souvenir spoons and view a film about Bakelites’s processing and applications.


American Plastic: A Cultural History, by Jeffrey L. Meikle

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Postcards Boosted Cities


An article originally published in

Booster Post Cards
to Tell Fame of City

Thousands of Miles of Postals
Will Spread Renown of Minneapolis.

Trainloads to Be Mailed From Here
During Civic Celebration Week.

Scenes of Falls and Lakes
Will Be Among Those Sent Out.

Thousands and thousands of miles of postcards that, if placed side by side, would extend several times across the United States—postcards that will show only the brighter side of life an Minneapolis—will this summer spread the fame of Minneapolis over the entire world.

Trainloads of postcards wil1 be mailed from here this summer during the Civic celebration and the summer conventions, while lake dwellers already have shown their appreciation of the many new views which are being placed in the market by the enterprising postcard firms which are preparing for such a season as they never before have experienced. Everyone sends postcards, they say, and for this reason Minneapolis stores have been stocked with hundreds of different views, all showing scenes in and about the city.

The picture postcard industry has grown from a mere trifling experiment of an itinerant photographer to an immense business which has encircled the globe, and has passed from the comic stage into a serious publicity means which more and more is being appreciated by enterprising resorts and cities of the world. Advancement in the art of photography and reproduction has reduced the cost of manufacture also, so that cards which a few years ago sold at three for a quarter, now are on sale at all stores at 10 cents a dozen.

Postcards in High Favor

Postcards are a favored means of communication in times of conventions and other gatherings, as they enable the busy visitor to communicate with his friends without spending any great amount of his time in letter writing.

Postcard publicity campaigns have been waged in many cities, perhaps the most auspicious one being that of the Denver chamber of commerce, which has just mailed over 500,000 postcards to every part of the globe. The pictures were typical of Denver and its neighborhood and the western municipal fishermen are confident the postcard is the best bait for attracting tourists and residents to the West that yet has been devised.

Minneapolis always has been regarded as one of the centers of the picture postcard industry. More beautiful lakes and summer resorts, more palatial structures, more picturesque landscapes and more interesting industrial views can be found here than in most other cities and artists have taken advantage of the fact, with the result that Minneapolis views have become among the greatest factors in advertising Minneapolis away from here.

Artists Come Here

Artists from all over the world, attracted by the landscapes and lake views sent out of here, have made Minneapolis their mecca, and a large staff of artists continually is preparing new views to satisfy the ever growing demand of the art loving tourists who visit the Twin Cities annually.

Perhaps the pioneer in the exploitation of the artistic setting of Minneapolis was the late Arus Williams, who for many years rambled from lake to lake and resort to resort with his heavy cameras, and whose artistic photographs have been copied and exhibited by moving picture film makers and as artistic lantern slices in many countries. Mr. Williams came here from the East when Minneapolis was in her infancy, and his photographic reproductions were for many years the only ones. He photographed Lake Minnetonka in all its moods and caprices. When the postcard novelty became a fad Williams was the first to place his views on the market, and many lake resorts which now are appreciated by Minneapolitans first were discovered and described by the camera of the artist.

Minnehaha Falls 1911 Civic Celebration Postcard

Falls Pictured Thousand Times

Since that time photographers without number have traversed fields and resorts in and about the Twin Cities. Minneahaha Falls has been pictured thousands of times. Hundreds of new views of Lake Minnetonka and its beautiful summer lounging places have been made and scattered broadcast over the world. Minneapolis parks, drives and boulevards have come in for their share, while the lesser lakes, such as Calhoun, Harriet and Lake of the Isles have been favorites with the post card men.

Lakes Calhoun, Harriet and Lake of the Isles are receiving especial attention from the photographers this year because of the great Civic Celebration to be held in commemoration of the linking of lakes, and these views will add materially to the large number of beautiful scenes in and about Minneapolis.

St. Paul is not omitted. New views of Como park, yachting views from White Bear lake,, Wildwood scenes and pictures of the majestic Mississippi, Fort Snelling and its historic abutments are included. The whole will go to make a campaign of publicity which will spread Minneapolis’ fame over the entire world and will not cost Minneapolis a cent. Instead it will be profitable, as the biggest makers of post cards are Minneapolis institutions, employing Minneapolis people, and every cent spent for post cards is left right here in Minneapolis.

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Seventeen Heaven

SEVENTEEN HEAVEN was a dream room designed especially for teens. It was exhibited at the National Home Furnishings Show, Aug. 25 through Sept. 9, 1956 at the New York Coliseum. The back of this postcard invited you to read about it in the September issue of Seventeen Magazine.

The latest theory on interior decorating was that rooms could be personalized to suit their occupants. This attic living-bedroom, designed for two teenage girls, featured “Seventeen” wallpaper and matching fabric with a teen motif. The color scheme was pastel pink and turquoise, accented with colorful throw pillows.

The room was furnished with two studio couches and a neat storage wall that included two desks, double dressers, and book shelves. There were also extra chairs, a music and “TV” corner, and a special bin for extra bedding, A telephone, sewing machine, and typewriter were among the objects in view.

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Poissons d’Avril — April Fool

Devinez qui Vous l’envoie? (Guess who sent it to you?)

These are  old French postcards for April 1, April Fools Day. The postcards usually include the words 1er Avril (April 1st) or Poissons d’Avril (April Fool). Other words on these cards often relate to expressions of love. Sometimes the cards just feature fish, with or without other words. Fish are featured because, in France and some other countries, the April Fool’s Day tradition is known as “April Fish.”  The custom involves attempting to attach a paper fish to the victim’s back without being noticed. 

Vous savez combien je vous aime! Mais il est bien lourd tout même. (You know how much I love you! But it is very heavy all the same.)

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French New Year “Carte Postale” Postcard


Bonne Année — Happy New Year

I especially like this French New Year postcard because it is a postcard showing a postcard.

The postcard (Carte Postale) held by the lady has the greeting “Le gui est un Porte-Bonheur” (Mistletoe is a lucky charm). Mistletoe frames the top half of the card. It is hard to tell what the lady is holding, but it is probably a small bunch of mistletoe.

The shield near the bottom has this greeting in French:

S’il est vrai qu’il porte bonheur
C’est avec joie que je l’adresse
J’y tous les vœux de mon cœur
Mes baisers et mille tendresses.

Translation (courtesy of Google):

If it is true that it carries happiness (is lucky)
It is with joy that I address
I wish you all my heart
My kisses and a thousand tendernesses.

Bonne Année — Happy New Year

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Boys’ World Sunday School Paper


This postcard has an unusual design on the address side. Father Time is showing a young boy a book with the dates 1902 and 1903 on adjacent pages. The book is resting on a cornucopia overflowing with packages labeled HAPPINESS, HEALTH, SUCCESS, and  CONTENT.

The other side of the postcard announced that the New Year’s number of the Boys’ World weekly paper would be given out in Sunday School on Sunday January 4, 1903. Boys’ World was one of several Christian papers published by David C. Cook Publishing Co. The paper was described as “a large, four-column, eight-page, illustrated paper, printed in colors . . . full of stories, incidents, and news on subjects in which boys are interested.”


The David C. Cook Publishing Co. sold a wide variety of Sunday School supplies. Their large 1908 Annual Catalogue is online here. Page 13 of that catalogue has an image of a Boy’s World issue. At that time it was stated that “It is less than six years since the Boys’ World and the Girls’ Companion were started. They now go to more than a million readers.”


The catalogue had a variety of types of post cards: holiday, teachers’, bible text, birthday, cradle roll, and presidential. Christmas Novelty post cards on page 76 included letters from Santa and hold-to-lights. The Presidential Post Cards were sold in a set of 25, one card for each President,  tied with red, white, and blue ribbon.

 The David C. Cook Publishing Company was founded in 1875 and merged with another company in 2016. There is a website at

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A Christmas Toast


Here’s a health to all those that I love
Here’s a health to all those that love me
Here’s a health to all those
that love them that love those
That love those, that love them that love me.

This postcard was published by Raphael Tuck and is signed by artist Geo. Mason. The online Tuck Database lists four cards here in this Christmas Series No. C. 177 of Old Time Character Studies. Three of the cards are pictured, all showing men with drinking vessels in hand. This is the only one shown that includes a verse on the card. These postcards were first used in 1907.

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