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Advertising Cards, Greeting Cards, and Postcards
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Collection Overview
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Advertising cards, greeting cards, postcards, postcard books, and other printed ephemera. The collection primarily documents twentieth century global lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and ally (LGBTQIA) aesthetics, culture and history as represented in commercial cards made to be collected or mailed to customers, family, or friends.
The collection reflects an evolution of communication in the gay community from covert to overt beginning with early 20th century photographic art reproductions with homoerotic subtext. A tacit respectability was accorded by the imprimatur of international museums which had capitalized on the pre-First World War postcard fad by retailing images of works of art in their collections. Nude classical sculpture and images with similar sexual undertones had been apparent in art magazines and American greeting cards since the late 19th century. Advances in color lithography allowed small publishers to keep pace with a growing market, and specialty risqué greeting cards appeared decades before the industry leaders began catering to niche consumers in the 1970's. The gay embrace of the printed format shadowed mainstream markets with the adoption and adaptation of popular culture iconography, from the easily shared or hidden pocket collectible dirty French postcard, to the subversion of subversion and stereotypes with humor, puns, double entendres, and innuendo of kitsch, camp imagery, and mail art later in the century. An increasingly ubiquitous gay aesthetic enjoyed the broader public's eventual acceptance of unabashedly straightforward non-straight erotic and radical imagery in highly visible commercial, retail, and fine art sold and mailed without a plain brown wrapper or adult content warning label.
11 Linear Feet 11 archive shoe boxes, 2 archive boxes, 1 flat archive box
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.