Postman

THE POSTCARD ALBUM

POSTCARD PRINTER & PUBLISHER RESEARCH

 

Paul_Finkenrath_title

The postcard publishing and printing business of Paul Finkenrath from Berlin is well known to collectors of quality chromolithographic printed cards; at least the initials ‘PFB’ are popular. PFB is also a good example of a typical German export orientated postcard company of the time. Took advantage of the boom, mostly in countries abroad, published what customers desired, appear to have made good profits and closed the business when protective tariffs hindered the export. A long, more detailed, well illustrated article (in full colour) on PFB is found in TPA #25. PLEASE NOTE: In late 2013 I visited Berlin and to my great surprise much of the original factory complex (erected 1899) where PFB was found, was still standing. The new TPA issue 28 includes two pages with photos of the former PFB address, giving you some idea how it looked like back then.

Company History

Finkenrath & Grasnick, chromolitho printers was set up by Paul Finkenrath and Paul Grasnick on July 1, 1897. P. Finkenrath had been sales manager of August Finkenrath Soehne (est. 1875) from Barmen before, probably one of the sons. Aug. Finkenrath had a branch at Berlin since the mid 1890’s. Paul Grasnick had been the head lithographer of well known J. Miesler company.

The business was found at Alte Jacobstr. 66, 2nd rear house, 3rd floor. The partnership lasted only about a year. P. Grasnick left and worked as lithographer, then own studio for lithography, opened a printing business at Thaerstr. 47, before moving to Blumenstr. 37, Berlin O27. His (contract) chromolitho printing business was prospering, and very likely he worked also for former partner Finkenrath from time to time.

Paul Finkenrath moved his business to Berlin SO, Schlesische Str. 31 by 1900. Added an own dept. for deLuxe paper production. By mid or late 1901 the business was converted into a limited company. Business partners / managing directors were a Robert Schimpf and Mr. Oettinger. All three were also travelling salesmen. The PFB “Bird” logo (see above) is the earliest logo used. Probably already in 1901 but the earliest p/u card known yet dates from mid 1902. The more popular PFB inside two dividers logo was registered in (mid/late?) 1905.

PFB (8 litho presses, 40 other machines, 180 workers in 1907) made good profits but when the exports faded, inland market cram full with overproduction cards, the company was wound up by late 1910. Final liquidation dates from March 31, 1911. Paul Finkenrath had left earlier to take over a laundry engineering works.

PFB postcard production

Finkenrath & Grasnick as well as follow-up company Paul Finkenrath Kunstanstalt concentrated on picture postcards (topo). The limited company however, specialised in all types of quality subject / greeting cards for all occasions, mainly for export. Usually each design was available in 2 or 3 different qualities. Embossed, embossed with special brilliant gold or silver inlay, with heavy glossy finish and additional gold/silver inlay on top. Relatively few cards are “plain”.

An experienced PFB card collector from the US estimated in the late 1990’s that Finkenrath had published and printed at least some 5,300 diff. designs during their 10 years of existence. As said above, many designs were available in diff. qualities and of course with imprints in many languages. The imprint was free of charge with a minimum order of 1,200 cards.

The highest series number I have seen so far is in the 11,000 range (p/u in 1910). However, I am not sure if the numbering was consecutively over the years. PFB collectors are invited to help to solve this matter. Another puzzle are the 100% PFB made cards which show no logo nor series number at all.

PFB cards are usually said to had been of outstanding design and quality for the time. Well, there are also quite common cards with flowers, landscape views, art reproductions around. Then again also mechanicals and other “novelties”. Although you find PFB cards with various language imprints, the mass of cards was produced for the US market / customer taste there. Some cards show an additional imprint: “Reg. U.S.A. Pat. Off” in order to protect designs of copying which was quite common there. The mention of “Woolworth” to had been a major customer of PFB puzzles me a little as I understand Woolworth to had been selling low price cards in quantity(?)

A longer article on the PFB company history was published in TPA issue 25.

PFB_Bird_Divider_Logo_same_numbers
Lifeboat_card_no657

‘Lifeboat’ - Finkenrath & Grasnick card no. 657, artist signature illegible. P/U 1899. With later added imprint of Hamburg based printer, publisher, wholesaler “M. Glueckstadt & Muenden”.

Gruss_aus_Berlin_1898_Paul_Finkenrath

Gruss aus Berlin - card no. 477. Imprint reads: ‘Kunstanstalt Paul Finkenrath, Berlin’. No Grasnick mention. This card was p/u in mid. 1898.

PFB_no9505

PFB card no. 9505. New Year greetings, caption in German, not p/u with message in Hungarian. This card is the glossy gelatine finish and additional golden inlay version. Identical card no. 9504 has gelatine finish only.

PFB_ser6289

PFB ser. 6289, birth card series with stork, embossed, not p/u

PFB_ser6396

PFB ser. 6396, New Year series. French caption, p/u in France, postmark illegible.

PFB_no5118

PFB card no. 5118, signed ‘Jotter’. A British artist I believe. The same card with extra gold overprint was no. 5119. P/u 1907 in Germany.

PFB_old_new_series_3951_3954

From the collection of Eltina Dijkstra comes this interesting PFB pair. Card no. 3954 with brilliant gold inlay, same card number but one with old PFB logo, the other with the new, more popular version. However, it this not the identical design, but from the same (romance) series.

Eltina Dijkstra kindly provided also a scan of the address sides and both show an divided back and identical UPU imprints. I hope the blown-up imprints illustrated above do finally convince the last collectors, that both logo’ were used by Paul Finkenrath GmbH, Berlin.

Please

notice!

I do receive inquiries quite regularly by collectors believing that the illustrated trademark PFB inside rhombus, some say diamond, was also used by Paul Finkenrath company. This is not the case, however. This logo belongs to the publisher / real photo card printer Paul Fink, Berlin. Thank you.

Paul_Fink_Berlin_diamond_logo
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