The ‘golden age’ of postcards

July 17, 2014

CNN Photos

In August, it will be a century since World War I broke out, a conflict that engulfed Europe and saw millions of servicemen sent to the front. In an era when even the telephone was not widely used, many soldiers turned to the picture postcard, then in its heyday, to send word home to loved ones.

Their parents, siblings and sweethearts replied in kind, leaving a treasure trove of images for present-day historians. Many that were produced and sent in wartime France are gathered in the Roger-Viollet Collection, represented here by Getty Images.

The postcards are real photographs, shot in black-and-white and hand-colored afterward, as color photography was in its infancy, said Sarah McDonald, a curator at Getty Images.

Publishers often used models in studio sets — in part for commercial reasons, since they were selling the images that people wanted to see, rather than accurate representations of the horrors…

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