Illustrated Postal Card Co.

The Illustrated Postal Card Company, based in New York City, operated from 1905 to 1914, with addresses at 118 Chambers St. and later at 520 W. 84th St. During its peak years, the company printed millions of postcards, capitalizing on the popularity of picture postcards.

They specialized in producing color halftone lithographic cards, often printed by Emil Pinkau in Leipzig, Saxony, under a patented process called Photocolor I. Each location was assigned a specific number prefix. The Illustrated Postal Card Company’s most notable collection featured vibrant color cards capturing scenes throughout New York City, distinguished by a unique font for titles. Subsequent sets depicted scenes from surrounding areas, such as Long Island, with more subdued writing.

In 1909, the company shifted from importing cards to producing their own, including a large number of black and white cards with consecutive numbering. At the height of the postcard craze, the company employed 600 people and had a daily output of 3 million cards.


The postcards are distinguished by their iconic eagle-and-shield trademark. Within their systematic organization, each city received a designated number, with subsequent card numbers assigned following a series designation. As an example, to commemorate Philadelphia’s Founder’s Week in October 1908, marking the 225th anniversary of the city’s establishment, the Illustrated Postal Card Company released a special set of 10 cards labeled with the unique number 254. Black and white views were sequentially numbered from 1 or 101 into the lower thousands. A later numbering system employed letters to denote specific cities.

Start number:
9: Buffalo, NY
96: New York, NY
155: Brooklyn, NY
254: Philadelphia, PA

Ohio Penitentiary, Columbus Ohio (1906) | The Illustrated Postal Card Company
This 1906 undivided-back postcard shows two women walking along the Ohio Penitentiary wall in Columbus, Ohio. A handwritten message is in the sky area. The penitentiary closed in 1984, and the buildings were demolished in 1998.

County Court House, Columbus, Ohio (1907) | Illustrated Postal Card Company
Undivided back postcard showing the Franklin County Courthouse in Columbus, Ohio. There is a handwritten message dated 1907 in the sky and message areas.


  1. Gabrielan, Randall. Brooklyn, New York in Vintage Postcards. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 1999. Pg. 58. Accessed through [Link]
  2. Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City
  3. Miller, George, and Dorothy Miller. Picture Postcards in the United States, 1893-1918. 1st ed. New York: Crown Publishers, 1976. Accessed through [Link]
  4. Terre Haute Postcards