Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dr. Baker's Book on Route 66 - and Curt Teich Postcards

Thursday, October 13, is the last day to purchase tickets for the fall Friends of the Dick Smith Library Dinner in the Stacks on Saturday, October 15th,  Appetizers are at 6:30 PM, and dinner and the program start at 7 PM.  Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members.  You can purchase tickets and get more information about the dinner on the Friends of the Dick Smith Library website.

Dr. T. Lindsay Baker, Director of the W. K. Gordon Center, will present his research on historic Route 66, the former U.S. highway that ran 2500 miles across eight states from Chicago to Los Angeles, and his use of the Curt Teich Postcard Archives.

Baker visited the Teich archives and researched in the production files for postcards along Route 66.  Many of the production files included the original black-and-white (mostly) photographs that were used to create these postcards between 1925 and 1954, an era before color photography was prevalent.  Some of the postcards had only a blue sky added; others had multiple colors added to the purchaser's specifications.

Curt Otto Teich (1877-1974) was a German immigrant who came to Chicago and was very successful.  From its opening in 1898 through 1978, his company produced postcards for businesses and attractions across the country.  The records of this postcard production company, once the largest in America, originally wound up at the Lake County Forest Preserve District's Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois.  Now the collection is about to be transferred to the Newberry Library in Chicago.  Some of the collection is available online in the Illinois Digital Archives.

The former archives had posted a great guide  (very useful for collectors) to dating Teich postcards based on their stock numbers that is no longer online on the original archives URL.  Fortunately, it's been preserved in a Flickr group.  The company is also known for its "big letter" postcards, featuring the words "Greetings from [some town]," where the letters in the town's name were made of images of attractions there.

Baker's book features 112 sites (organized geographically starting in Chicago) along Route 66, presented in double-page spreads.  One side of the spread includes the black-and-white photo (often with notations on cropping and colors to use) along with the finished postcard (except in one case, where apparently a postcard was never made).  The other side of each spread includes Baker's research about the business or attraction pictured and the production of the postcard.  Baker also includes a brief description of what (if anything) was at that location in July 2014, when he and his wife took a road trip along the entire Route 66 looking for these sites.

This outstanding book is a great addition to Route 66 (and postcard) history.

[This book can be found in the General Stacks (upper level) of the Dick Smith Library, call number F590.7 .B35 2016.]

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