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Wish you were here

Before social media, there were postcards

Before social media, vacationers used postcards
Before social media, vacationers used postcards to send quick messages to loved ones back home.

Humblebragging about vacations and fancy meals is common on social media, but a recent retrospective on postcards is a reminder that the phenomenon isn’t new.

Before Facebook and Instagram, postcards were how family and friends on holiday sent quick messages to each other.

“People often like to brag a little. People went vacationing and sent cards to relatives [saying] ‘Wish you were here,’” George Wagner, president of a postcard collectors’ club, told last week.

Sending postcards was a popular pastime. In 1908 alone, approximately 667 million postcards were mailed in the United States, according to postal data.

“They became almost a universal messenger,” said Ray Hahn, another antique postcard collector.

Many vacation destinations, such as New Jersey’s resorts and beaches, sold postcards with images of the Atlantic City’s Steel Pier and other famous attractions.

Today, those postcards present rare glimpses into a bygone era, according to Helen-Chantal Pike, author of “Greetings from New Jersey: A Postcard Tour of the Garden State.”

“You are looking for something that isn’t in your life anymore. You’re looking for a memory, and postcards often deliver that in 3-by-5-inch or 4-by-6-inch formats,” Pike said.

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