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What are Topographical Vintage Postcards – Types of Postcards

Topograhical Picture Postcards Yellow

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Also Called Topo Postcards, View Postcards, and View Postcards.  As we have been selling Vintage Postcards – over the years we have sold a lot of Topographical – Map Postcards.  Scenes of Streets and Villages, Highway Maps of States,  they are very popular with Collectors.  Although described by various names, Topographical Postcards, Topo Postcards, View Postcards, refer to a collector’s interest in finding Postcards to a specific location.  Below are some of the Earliest Picture Photographers I could Find.  We wanted to share the research we have done.  Enjoy

Topographical Postcards showing street scenes and general views.  Postcard Collectors many times will collect Postcards of a certain Topical: location, or a particular area.  A City Street Views Business locations all according to a specific location.    

People Collect Topographical Cards for a variety of reasons, It Could be an area of where they or someone in their family lived.  It Could be a Town Historian delving into communities past.  Researching town businesses that once we’re there, a church where one of their relatives were married in.  As Collectors dig and specialize in certain areas, Many threads of research will reveal itself. Scenes of  Social life in earlier days.  Town Halls, Post Offices, Livery’s, Saddle businesses, train stations, trolley systems, many small older businesses that make them treasures.

Many small towns had local photographers took small-town photos, many times in small quantities which made them more valuable, but also Larger publisher made similar scenes but in mass.  Photo Views that were popular began to be reproduced.  views previously published were offered in different make and quality again, they would be retouched, images changed, cars removed, borders added.  Subtle changes so that they could be reproduced in bulk then offered for sale.  Monochrome views had color added, used different paper stock.  Some of the images were enlarged or cropped and resized

These were commonly called Topographical Postcards but also called:

  • Topo Postcards

  • View Postcards

  • Picture Postcards

A Truth would be the fewer postcards produced the individual postcards the higher the value.  The rarer it is, the more it is sought after to Help determine a postcards Rarity check out Our Beginner’s Guide How to Tell the Age of a Postcard


Picture View Photographer
Picture View Photographer

British Picture Postcard Photographers

Judges postcards

  • Fred Judge ( 1872 – 1950 )  – English Photographer of the British Isles

  • Son of Joseph Judge a Corn Dealer

  • began as an Engineer with a hobby of Photography

  • Quality of his work was such that passersby would wait to purchase them

  • One of His most important photos was of Flash of Lightning in an electrical storm overlooking the ocean – he sold over 25,000 copies of it

  • first Judges postcards were not produced until 1903

  • Built his Factory in 1927

  • Judges first published commercial card is probably a multi-view of the Great Storm of September 1903

  • always had his bicycle at the ready to take photographs of any local events or disasters and produce postcards for sale

  • He larger premises at 42 White Rock and the purchase of an exposing machine from Ellis Graber of Tunbridge Wells. This machine could produce larger production runs of cards to a consistent format and quality

  • 1910Judges Limited, a wholesale producer of postcards.

  • WWI produced a shortage of Paper stock – His company survived

  • Fred Judge died in 1950 from one of the last bombs that fell in Hastings England / UK

Fred Judge Topographical Postcard Pohtographer
Fred Judge Topographical Postcard Photographer


British and Middle East Photographer

Francis Frith publishers

  • Francis Frith  ( 1892 – 1898 ) – English Photographer of the Middle East

  • Born in  Chesterfield, Derbyshire      He was Quaker and went to Quaker School

  • 1850 he started a photography company Frith & Hayward

  • 1855 Sold his company and went totally into photography

  • Frith was one of the first of a new type of entrepreneurial photographer to establish himself as a retailer of scenic photographs on a large scale

  • In 1859 he began Francis Frith & Co

  • 1860, he married Mary Ann Rosling and began a quest to photograph every town and village in England.

  • His firm became one of the largest photographic studios in the world.   He had hired many photographers

  • Shortly after that thousands of shops all over England were selling his Postcards.

  • He was also recorded as a Quaker Minister in 1872

  • He died in 1898 in France

  • His Family Continued his business until it eventually closed in 1971

Francis Friyh British and Middle East Picture Postcard Photographer
Francis Frith British and Middle East Picture Postcard Photographer


Scottish Picture Postcard Photographer

Valentine and Sons publishers

  • James Valentine  1815 – 1879

  • Born in Dundee

  • Son of John Weaver Linen Weaver

  • He studied photography at the University of  St Andrews

  • Founded a printing Company – Valentine and Sons LTD in Dundee Scotland in about 1850 – it became the leading Manufacturer of Picture Postcards in Scotland

  • His Son John Valentine became a pioneer photographer in Hawaii

  • First concentrated on Tourist sights in Scotland, then moved to England, Norway, Jamaica, Morocco, Madeira, and New Zealand before 1900

  • His company became very widely known after the Tay Bridge disaster of  1879 they took many photos of this tragedy

  • Their photos were so good, that they were analyzed in 2003 and engineers were able to uncover any structural defects that led to the disaster.

  • Some of His Photos  University of St Andrews

James Valentine Scottish Picture Postcard Photographer
James Valentine Scottish Picture Postcard Photographer


British Picture Postcard Photographer

George Washington Wilson ( 1823 – 1893 )

  • Scottish Photographer

  • Photographed the Royal family – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

  • He specialized in Landscape Prints (the 1860s)and it is said that he sold over 1/2 Million Photos –

  • He also specialized in Mass production of prints

  • Over 40,000 of Wilson’s photographic glass plates still exist today

  • The majority are housed in Aberdeen University

  • They are of England, Wales, Gilbraltar, Morroco, Spain, South Africa, and Spain

  • Some of His work 

  • George Wilson Wilson Picture Photographer made over a million prints
    George Wilson Wilson Picture Photographer made over a million prints


  • Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company in Belfast, Maine

    • R. Herman Cassens

      • Starts Eastman Illustrating and Publishing Company in 1909 at the age of 33

      • He had a dream of “Photographing the Transcontinental Trail–Maine to California – He did not realize but mostly on East Coast

      • At the time they were selling for 2 -5 Cents each

      • He took and specialized in Real Photo Postcards ( RPPC )

      • Used Glass Plate NegativeIn 1905

      • Postcards were the easiest way to keep in touch

      • In 1913 in the United States over 968,000,000 were sent through the postal system

      • At its peak produced over 1 Million Postcards a Year

      • How Business Worked

        • Photographers left Belfast in Late spring

        • Enter a town and stay in Hotel or Campground

        • Then they set about photographing the major landmarks around town. These landmarks would include any churches, government buildings like the town hall and library, schools, stores,

          places of industry, and usually several street scenes.

        • Glass Plates sent to Belfast and sample postcards were made

        • Samples were then sent back to photographers which then went back thru the town with samples and took orders

        • The photographers work 12 hour days for $ 11.00 per week

        • Business contine=ued to be successful until the 1920s

        • He sold the business in 1945 for $ 7,000 – He Died 2 Years Later.

      • This emphasized their uniqueness of being one of a kind / Inn opposition to the Mass productions of thousands of the same image

      • Still some of the most sought after cards today

      • Find Your Town – How Many Prints Made


        New York


        Rhode Island

        New Hampshire



Herbert Cassens Photographer and owner of Eastman Illistrating and Postcard Company
Herbert Cassens Photographer and owner of Eastman Illustrating and Postcard Company


Picture Postcard Street View Columbus Ohio
Picture Postcard Street View Columbus Ohio


Buy Postcard Red Brick Tavern Springfield Ohio
Buy Postcard Red Brick Tavern Springfield Ohio


Waterfall Riverside Park Findley Ohio
Waterfall Riverside Park Findley Ohio


High School Crestline Ohio
High School Crestline Ohio


Picture Postcard Shelby Electric Plant Ohio
Picture Postcard Shelby Electric Plant Ohio


Ebay’s Selection of Map (Topographical ) Postcards – 12,780