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P77: Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards

Creator: M. Durwood Barbour

Extent: 7,894 picture postcards

Format(s): Printed and real photo postcards

Access: Use is defined by the current policies of the North Carolina Collection. Many of the postcards in this collection can be viewed online as part of the digital library collection, "North Carolina Postcards."

Useage Restrictions: Not restricted

Provenance: M. Durwood Barbour, Raleigh, North Carolina; 22 December 2006; accession no. 31248

Biographical Sketch: M. Durwood Barbour, a member of the 1952 class of the University of North Carolina and a resident of Raleigh, became interested in picture postcards as an offshoot from his hobby of collecting North Carolina bank notes and his appreciation for early photographic images of the Tar Heel state. He accumulated a collection during twenty-four years of aggressive searching. In his early years of collecting postcards, Barbour mostly sought views of North Carolina towns and cities, but as he became more familiar with the hobby of deltiology he was increasingly attracted to views showing activities and events as well as "real photo" postcards. Barbour traveled to numerous out-of-state postcard shows and spent many hours on eBay seeking special items for his collection. Over the years, Barbour developed a keen eye for the picture postcard as a rare visual record.

Collection Desciption: The collection comprises approximately 8,000 picture postcards relating to the state of North Carolina and dating primarily from about 1905 to the early 1950s, and contains views of almost every town and city from the mountains to the coast. The collection includes one of the largest and best groups of "real photo" postcard views of North Carolina in existence.

Picture post cards come in two types: printed and photographic. Printed picture post cards are massed produced using printing presses; photographic, or "real photo" postcards, are produced from a negative using photographically sensitized paper specially made with a post card back, usually in limited numbers. Real photo postcards often have a more realistic look to them when compared to the more sanitized and numerous printed postcards.

Many of the real photo cards are not credited to a specific photographer. On the other hand, Barbour acquired a valuable selection of views that are attributed to some of North Carolina’s best-known real photo postcard artists, including Thomas R. Draper in Beaufort County, E.C. Eddy in Southern Pines, the Felch Sisters (Edith and Dora) in Sanford, M.B. Gowdy in Carteret County, J.J. Hitchcock and Waller Holladay in Durham, Frank Marchant in Hamlet, D. Victor Meekins in Dare County, John E. Spencer in Rockingham, H. Lee Waters in Lexingon, and Bayard Wootten in New Bern. In the early 1900s these photographers began to take advantage of the public’s desire for postcards and published thousands of them to supplement their incomes as commercial photographers. The artists’ images tended to sometimes show social and political history and occasionally took on an almost photojournalistic quality. Interesting subjects covered by the photographers include disasters (mostly fires, floods, and train wrecks), African-American history, parades and public gatherings, agriculture and industry, military history, scenic views, transportation history, and public buildings such as court houses and railroad depots.

The collection also includes a marvelous accumulation of printed postcards produced by many of the best-known companies of the period including the Albertype Company, the American News Company, the Artvue Post Card Company, the Asheville Post Card Company, the Auburn Greeting Card Company, the Commercial Colortype Company, the Curt Teich Company, the Dexter Press, the E. C. Kropp Company, the Ess an Ess Company, the Graycraft Card Company, the Hugh Leighton Company, the Illustrated Post Card Company, the Indianapolis Post Card Company, the PCK Series, Raphael Tuck & Sons, the Rotograph Company, Tichnor Brothers, the Valentine Post Card Company, and the W. M. Cline Company. Within this printed realm are many different types of postcards (other than the ubiquitous town scenes) such as novelty, large-letter, advertising and tourism, butterfly design, pansy design, greeting cards, and postal cards.

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