The American News Company, headquartered at 119 Nassau Street in New York City, operated from 1864 to 1969. The company played a pivotal role as a publisher and distributor of books, magazines, newspapers, and postcards across the United States. They developed a national network of affiliated news agencies for efficient distribution.
Founded by Sinclair Tousey, the company expanded its distribution network to over 300 affiliates, primarily covering New York and the mid-Atlantic region. This massive network led to litigation challenges due to attempts to monopolize distribution. Many small publishers also contracted out postcards through the American News Company. Their printers in Leipzig, Dresden, and Berlin, Germany, produced most of their cards, but many were manufactured in France and the United States as well.
Their earliest cards were printed as black and white views, followed by their lithographic Poly-chromes. Other series were added, each being printed in a different manner. Some of these techniques have a specific letter prefix to their numbers, while others kept adding letter prefixes sequentially from A as they ran out of four or five-digit numbers assigned to that card. Many cards with undivided backs were later reprinted with divided backs after 1907.
After World War I, they shifted to American and French printers. Their closure in 1957 disrupted distribution channels, impacting small publishers. They adapted their numbering system over time to accommodate changing demands and printing techniques.
They had a numbering system for their cards, but the numbering convention continually changed to better suit the actual needs of the time.
A series: Letter A prefix
B series: Letter B prefix with sequential numbers running 1- 12200.
C series: Letter C prefix with sequential numbers running up to 15000
Within these series, certain techniques were assigned a range of numbers, but there were gaps because some techniques were more popular than others, and the less popular cards fell short of their allotted range.
To cope with this problem, especially after new techniques were introduced, the company began allotting numbers in smaller blocks. Eventually, cards were just numbered sequentially without regard to style.
Polychrome cards were undivided-back cards in continuous-tone lithography, known for bright, flat colors that almost resemble screenprints. Numbered 5000-7900, then beginning again with A5000. Cards after A7200 have divided backs with reissued versions of previous views.
Printed in Leipzig and Dresden. Cards with the Poly-Chrome name were also printed in the United States during World War I, with an M prefix and white borders.
Poly-Chrome cards were German-made and printed in photo-chromolithography with heavy retouching. Their colors are bright and so flat that they almost resemble screenprints. The process was used mostly before 1907.
Prefix A 5000-7900 (1903-1907)
German-made cards printed using a four-color process similar to collotype, printed at a tinted halftone over an RYB pallet. Their very small dot pattern gives them a more photographic than drawn look.
Prefix D 4000-15000