Four unusual postcards from Chattanooga

There are several hundred postcards in the Picnooga collection, but these four stand out not because of their subject or historically relevant content.

From the very earliest advent of the postcard, publishers pushed the limit of what could be sorted through the US Mail with novelty postcards like these.

Leather postcards became popular around 1903. Most were made of deer hide and decorated using a process known as pyrography, where the image is burned into the leather. A year after the card below was mailed, the United States Postal Service banned leather cards because of the havoc they caused in automated sorting machinery. Still, the cards were produced for a short time after, and people found unusual uses to repurpose them… like sewing them together to make purses and pillowcases.

  • Leather postcard from Chattanooga (front)
  • Leather postcard from Chattanooga (verso)

This wooden postcard from Rock City is made from a very thin piece of bird’s eye maple. They were produced from about 1904 through today. This card was most likely was made for Rock City in 1939 by B. B. Quality Line.

  • Rock City bird’s eye maple postcard (front)
  • Rock City bird’s eye maple postcard (verso)

Dimensional postcards, like this example, postmarked 1908, were pressed in high relief into card stock. Some other examples with a similar gradient design from Chattanooga include the Incline and the Lookout Inn. It’s published by the Ill. Postal Card & Nov. Co., NY.

* We have another dimensional postcard in Picnooga’s collection of the Swing-a-long Bridge in Rock City from the 1940s that is made of thin plastic with a smooth back.

  • Umbrella Rock dimensional postcard (front)
  • Umbrella Rock dimensional postcard (verso)

Aluminum postcards are my personal favorite and are quite rare. This is one of the two we have in Picnooga’s collection, the other one depicts the Lookout Inn.

I could not find too much history of metal postcards online, but many were produced in the first few years of the 20th century. This fine example dates from 1902 to 1905.

  • Bluffs, Tennessee River aluminum postcard (front)
  • Bluffs, Tennessee River aluminum postcard (verso)
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