Real Photo Postcards

Without the constant improvements in the photographic field, especially in the 1880-90’s but also thereafter, the postcard boom would had hardly become reality.

(Amateur) Photography as a hobby was nothing for the common man due to the costs involved. Anyway, more and more people had their own camera(s), some even with own darkroom equipment and by the late 1890’s you see more and more postcards made by amateur photographers.


An early design appears to be the portrait vignette type in circular shape and background softly faded-out. I show samples (detail), from France and Germany and all p/u between 1899-1901. The photographic trade and photo paper factories were quick to meet the demand for postcard size photo paper with pre-printed back.


This ‘Darkroom romance” has little to do with industrial photographic postcard printing. It matches anyway. Gravure printed, published by James Henderson & Sons, London in their ‘Pictorial Comedy’ Post Cards series. Mailed from France to Switzerland in Sept. 1908.

Neue Photographische Gesellschaft (NPG)

was the first and for years the world’s biggest factory for real photographic bromide printing “by the kilometre”. The founder and driving force was Arthur Schwarz (1862-1944). He travelled various countries and spent much time in the USA, too. ‘Rotograph’ was registered under number 38,146. The business for photo paper, chemicals and other supplies became the Rotograph Company in New York for the automatic printing of photographs. See TPA 28 for the story of the rise and fall of Rotograph Co. The NPG was founded by Mr. Schwarz in July, 1894 in Berlin-Schoeneberg. Backbone of the NPG success were machines used for photographic paper / printing constructed after US patents but improved, however. They were built to last. Some NPG machines installed at the British daughter company Rotary Photographic Co. Ltd. were in use for over 60 years!

Thanks to the various NPG patents registered between 1895-97 for many countries, Arthur Schwarz was in the position to minimise competition. NPG, with branches / associated partner companies in London, New York, Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Milano etc and a total of about 1,500 employees, played a leading role. Not only as photographic printers but also as publishers of thousands of (mostly subject) postcards, stereo cards etc.

The (old) NPG story ends officially in January 1921. A new NPG GmbH (Ltd) company was set up. Mimosa AG Dresden had bought shares of NPG already in 1920. The decline of the postcard boom, WW1, but also some mismanagement (A. Schwarz had to leave his company in 1913) and the failed introduction of a colour photography process never really ready for the market, meant the end. “Mimosa”, Dresden took over the photo paper production / machinery and patents. Local competitor E.A. Schwerdtfeger AG (Mimosa held shares of) took over the NPG trademark and postcard dept. The newly formed NPG Ltd. was in business until WW2 years, for many years stayed in Berlin, then moved to Dresden


NPG - with full name and year date logo


The standard NPG logo

Neue Photographische Gesellschaft (NPG) had a variety of logo’s registered. The regular NPG logo is around in several designs. Shown are two other trademarks both officially registered in mid 1909. Card finds so far show no specific difference in design or quality to issues with the standard logo on.


NPG ‘Star with Crescent’ logo


NPG ‘Flag with 5 stars’ logo


This is my earliest p/u NPG card mailed in June 1898. Small boy with wooden sailing boat and titled “Columbus”. A so-called Brom-Platino Photograph for the publishing firm Fr. W. Juxberg, Frankfurt/Main. Card no. 99.

Wish to read more on NPG & Arthur Schwarz, Rotograph Co., New York, Knackstedt & Naether, patents and partners?

TPA 28 contains a detailed article (8 pages!)


NPG ‘Flag with 5 Stars logo’, card no. 085. ‘Seppl’ character series. P/u in 1909.

A listing of all officially registered NPG trademarks and photo paper names/brands can be made available in pdf-file format. (Text/descriptions in German only!)

The illustrated advertisement comes from the “Papier-Zeitung”, March 1913 issues. On occasion of the Spring Trade Fair at Leipzig (the second important fair of the year took place always in autumn), NPG offered a total of 250 series of postcards. The entire collection availaible to interested parties for (‘merely’) 60 Marks.

The majority of the offered cards were bromide real photo cards, the others done by (copper) gravure process. The average series then held six different cards/designs then. Now you might have a “rough” idea of the mass of cards once thrown onto the market, And by 1913 the postcard boom had faded a great deal already.

New logo

Visit the next pages RP trademarks1 RP trademarks2 with a number of (clearly identified) trademarks illustrated that are found on old real photo cards. Perhaps you recognize some of them.


This nicely done study, hand-coloured, was published by Gustav Liersch & Co, Berlin. Design no. 2 in a series titled “Claire”. This is what is found imprinted on address side. On picture we find the typical NPG logo, and in very small type even the name of the photographer: Benjamin J. Falk, New York. B.J. Falk (1853-1925) was very likely a friend and business partner of NPG director A. Schwarz. A number of other Falk photographs can be found published on NPG cards. The card was mailed in early December 1904.

[Home] [Postcard History] [Identification] [Logo types] [Printer Logo's] [TPA Magazine] [Contact] [PPC Novelties] [Finds & Curio] [Collecting Subjets]