Probably the most frequently encountered name in the century-old history of P.E.I. postcards is Carter & Co. Although they were not printers they commissioned series of postcards over an extended period. From the beginning of the postcard era until the 1950s Carter’s was easily the most important name in Island cards.
They do not, however, seem to feature highly on the interests of collectors. This may be owing in part to the large number of identifiable series – several with small numbers of cards – or because the designs they used were often associated with other publishers.
George Carter, originally of Winsloe, P.E.I., started in the seed business in Charlottetown in 1879 but quickly moved into other lines of business including books and stationary, soft goods and notions. In 1903 he met with financial difficulties and he had left the Island by 1905 but his brother Isaac continued the business under the Carter name. With the increase in tourism late in the 19th century the firm adapted quickly to the desire of visitors for souvenirs and was soon advertising the availability of products at their Charlottetown store. They published a number of souvenir photo books of the Island and in 1908 had a line of non-postal gummed stamps with Island scenes which could be affixed to envelopes. Carter & Co. were early adopters to postcards. In 1907 they indicated that they had 500,000 cards in stock and were likely providing wholesale lots to smaller merchants across the province.
One of the earliest series identified with Carter & Co. clearly identifies the cards with an unusual vertical text on the left side of the face of the card. I have chosen to call this the “souvenir” series to separate them from other Carter & Co. cards.
Michael J. Smith in his 2010 2nd edition of The W.G. MacFarlane Picture Postcard Handbook 1902-1910 identifies these cards as the work of Toronto publisher W.G. MacFarlane. Other MacFarlane cards for Prince Edward Island are part of a numbered series but the cards identified as “Carter & Co. Limited, Souvenirs, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island” have no number, nor does the name MacFarlane appear anywhere on the cards. The card have an asymmetrical divided back design which is identical with another series of P.E.I. cards which Smith does not identify as MacFarlane products.
The cards were certainly in use by 1906. Nineteen images have been identified in various collections although I believe there are additional cards as nineteen would be a very unusual number of cards for a printing run. The majority of the known cards are of public buildings and street scenes in Charlottetown. Several views also appear on cards from other publishers and some may be the work of Island photographer W.S. Louson.
A gallery of examples of the souvenir series cards follows. Click on any image to start a slide show. A full listing of known images appears as an illustrated checklist accessed here. I would be very interested in learning of any cards which I have not listed in the checklist.
During the height of the postcard craze in the early 1900s millions of cards were produced and sent or collected. Moving from storage in shoeboxes to specially designed postcard albums collectors became more sophisticated in their preservation methods. Today many collectors mirror the early enthusiasms with topical collections (horses, hotels, mountains, libraries, butterflies etc.) or geographical ones. The latter group is probably the more common. My own interests are in the early cards for Prince Edward Island – early being before World War 1.
As the interest in cards grew additional products capitalizing on the cards began to be produced. One such product was the portfolio of cards rendered suitable for framing through the addition of a backing vignette neatly framing the card. These were probably produced by the original card publisher but may have been an “after market” item developed for collectors. This provided an easily framed version of the standard card which although often very attractive was also too small to display effectively in the Edwardian parlor. The portfolio was an excellent souvenir or gift for the tourists in the region.
The example in my collection consists of a set of five pages – although the original number could have been more – in an attractive folder measuring 295 mm by 230 mm. It is probable that the design was used for multiple locations with the name of the city or province inserted for different press runs.
The printed 290 x 225 mm vignette pages are all different and each has a specific theme which seem to be related to the various recreational activities in which a visitor may be interested. These include; fishing, canoeing and rowing, golf and travel, hunting, and sailing. The vignettes are artistically designed in an art deco format. The cards are tipped onto the backing and owing to the thickness of the backing paper it is not possible to view the card backs. The card identification is based on identical cards in my collection.
There is no direct relationship between the subject of the vignettes and the cards themselves. The cards are all published by the McCoy Printing Company of Moncton and seem to be from the Acadian Series. That series numbers at least 15 cards according to The McCoy Printing Company Picture Postcard Handbook 1900 to 1910 by Mike Smith and William P. Angley and it is possible that the portfolio originally held the entire series. It is more likely that there was a smaller selection.
My portfolio holds the following cards: Street Scene in Charlottetown P.E.I. / Victoria Park & Harbor near Charlottetown P.E.I. (Acadian Series #82), Shore Scene at Keppoch Prince Edward Island (Acadian Series #80), Law Courts Building, Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Acadian Series #74), Pastoral Scene, Prince Edward Island (McCoy card using Valentine& Sons image #100923, not in the Smith listing), Post Office, Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Acadian Series #17)
Portfolio gallery. Click on any card to see enlarged images.
A Street Scene in Charlottetown P.E.I. /Victoria Park & Harbor near Charlottetown, P.E.I. Acadian Series #82
Post Office, Charlottetown P.E.I. Acadian Series #17
Pastoral Scene, Prince Edward Island Valentine image 100923
Shore Scene at Keppoch Prince Edward Island Acadian Series #80
Law Courts Building, Charlottetown P.E.I. Acadian Series #74
I would be very interesting in learning of any other portfolios of this type which may have survived and whether this frameable vignette was in common use.
One of the more popular areas for topical postcard collection is the depiction of ships on cards. While the ports of Prince Edward Island were hardly major destinations for steamers the fact of being an island meant a dependence on vessels for connection to the mainland and there are a number of interesting cards showing these essential vessels.
One group of cards centres on the unique needs of the province for “continuous steam communication” sought by the Island Government in 1873 as a condition for confederation. The struggle for links across the winter ice-bound Strait of Northumberland gave rise to a series of ice-breaking steamers and later car-ferries whose images are captured on early postcards. Ships such as the Stanley, Minto and Earl Grey are frequently shown imprisoned in the ice. The irony is that many of these cards were sent by summer visitors who had no direct knowledge of the difficulty and boredom of the winter passage.
These tourists and residents were much more likely to have reached the Island on one of the ships of the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company which provided service while the strait was ice-free, usually between April and December of each year. The Company had been incorporated in 1890 but was successor to the Prince Edward Island Steam Navigation Company, formed in 1863, and so had a near-monopoly for decades before the postcard boom.
At the turn of the 20th century the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company had two vessels; the S.S. Northumberland, launched in 1891 and the S.S. Princess, built five years later. Increased passenger travel and freight led to the sale of the Princess in 1905 and the launch a new vessel, the S.S. Empress the same year. The Northumberland normally served the Charlottetown-Pictou route while the Empress travelled between Summerside and Point de Chene New Brunswick. Schedules of both vessels were linked to railway timetables to provide good communication to Halifax, Boston and Montreal. On my companion marine history blog, Sailstrait, I have provided details about thePrincess, Northumberland, and Empress.
Although the Princess may well have been the subject of a postcard as it was still in the service in 1905 I have not been able to find any examples and indeed any photographs of the vessel are scarce. This was not the case with regard to the Northumberland and the Empress.
Although built fifteen years apart the two ships were of a similar appearance and size. Indeed, as shown below, in at least one case a card shows one ship incorrectly identified as the other. A clue to help determine the correct identification may be found by examining the smoke patterns of the two ships in the galleries below. One additional key to sorting them out is that the Empress had more lifeboats than the Northumberland.
Almost all the major publishers that had cards of Prince Edward Island had at least one showing a ship of the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company and some publishers such as Valentine and Warwick & Rutter had images of both. Often the cards drew on the same photographic imagery although the photographer is not identified – with one exception. The Summerside image of the Empress at dock is noted as a W.S. Louson image on a Warwick Bros. & Rutter card and although the ship is not identified in his card titled “Anticipation” the Empress was the steamer servicing the Prince County port.
The identification is confirmed by a Carter & Co. “red letter” series card showing the same scene and undoubtedly taken at the same time (there are differences in the placement of the boy fishing and the spectator). These two cards are also an excellent illustration of the different treatment given to similar images by publishers. Title, cropping and most particularly shading, clarity and colour can result in cards that initially appear to be quite different but in reality are almost identical.
An action photo of the Empress steaming is the most commonly seen image as it is used in cards from at least three publishers. Indeed Warwick Bros. & Rutter uses the same image on two cards with different titles. The image is also used on a card by McCoy Publishing and another produced for Maddigan.
Publishers with Northumberland Strait steamer cards to their credit include Kennedy, McLellan, McCoy, Maddigan, Valentine, Journal Print, Pugh, Stedman and Warwick & Rutter. I have been able to find only one card showing both vessels, the Stedman card #2572 probably published for J.D. Taylor and shown to the right.
The cards depicted in following galleries do not exhaust the possible varieties of Northumberland Strait steamer cards but offer a representative sampling of the cards most often seen. Clicking on any of the cards will show an enlarged image.
Cards showing the S.S. Northumberland
Cards showing the S.S. Empress
The activity of the two vessels coincided with the golden age of the postcard. With the beginning of the ice-breaking rail-car ferry service in 1917 both ships were sold and the company wound up. Henceforth postcards detailed the loading, unloading and sailings of the S.S. Prince Edward Island and her successors.
Both of these vessels continued to be the subject of postcards after they left Prince Edward Island waters. The Northumberland sailed on Lake Ontario until destroyed by fire after World War II and there are many cards showing the vessel. An excellent history of her life on the lake can be found here. The Empress was put on the Saint John to Digby route across the Bay of Fundy and there are a number cards of her in this role.
As always, I would be interested of learning of other postcards which show the Northumberland Strait steamers, especially the Princess.
There seems to be a thing with four-leaf clovers. When you start looking you can’t find them anywhere. So you stop looking. Then you find one. Suddenly there are four-leaf clovers everywhere.
The same phenomenon occurs with post cards.
When I first stumbled across a reference to the large Nerlich & Co. output of post cards I knew of not a single one with a P.E.I. image. Then a fellow collector suggested I look at some Summerside cards he had found and I started finding Nerlichs all over the place. By the same token it was a long time before I made the connection between drug stores and postcards in Summerside but when I discovered it there seemed to be a lot of examples that had been right under my nose.
Now these occurrences have converged. This time it is in relation to a card depicting the High School in Summerside. The school itself had been opened in 1879 as the Davies School. Louis Henry Davies (later Chief Justice of Canada) was premier at the time and among his accomplishments was the passage of a Public Schools Bill which created a provincial Board of Education and non-sectarian schools. The eight-classroom structure in Summerside offered grades one to ten. Ten years later the school was renamed as the “Summerside High School” and provided only the upper grades. The building was enlarged in 1915 and again in 1932 when it was renamed o0nce more as “Summerside High School and County Academy.” A fire in 1935 destroyed the part of the building shown on the early postcards.
The first postcard showing the building that I had seen was a Warwick Bros. & Rutter card showing the front of the school.
This black and white card was printed for Summerside merchant W.H. Jardine and may actually have been a later image as the cards noted below do not show several small trees seen in the picture.
As well as the Jardine card, there was another showing the school in the Warwick Bros. & Rutter line. This was one which had probably been published earlier and bore the name of well-known amateur photographer W. S. Louson. It is one of the few cards identified as Louson’s work which depicts a civic structure. Most of his cards are of rural scenes with more of an emphasis on “artistic” settings.
The card shows the building with more of a side view as seen from the top of Summer Street.
However the same photograph is used for two other cards which appeared at about the same time (dating the sequence of these cards is all but impossible). Neither of these cards give credit to Louson but the images actually show more of the scene with additional foliage seen on the left side of the card so they were not derived from the Rutter card which has different cropping owing, in part, to the characteristic title band on the card bottom. (click to enlarge images)
High School,from Summer Street, Summerside, P.E.I. published for P.N. Enman, Druggist. Nerlich & Co., # 782 B/40
Central High School, Summerside, P.E.I. Published for Wm. Kennedy, Druggist, Summerside, P.E.I. publisher not identified.,
While these two images have slightly different cropping, different titles, and different clouds and colouration the real difference is on the card back and this is where we get back to the clovers. Not only is there another addition to the list of Nerlich cards but there is the name of yet another drugstore in Summerside that was in the card business.
The P.N. Enman card (left) clearly shows the Nerlich wordmark
…and on the left side of the back the publication notice
The Kennedy card (right) likewise has significant information on the back of the card. However Mr. Kennedy has proved to be a little more elusive that others in the drug business in Summerside as I have been unable to find information about his business, or about him for that matter.
I expect, however, that there are a few more four-leaf clovers in the field yet to be found and that this exploration will not end with the postcards of the Summerside High School.
It seems that many of the small merchants who were early to take advantage of the postcard craze were booksellers or stationers or those already selling souvenirs or perhaps all of the above. For them it was an easy fit and postcards seemed to be a logical extension of the existing business lines. At least that seems to be the case in Charlottetown where firms such as Taylor’s Bookstore, Haszard and Moore, Maddigan, and Carter’s all had cards produced under their names.
Things appear to have been a little different in Summerside. In the Prince County capital druggists and drugstores were the ones to cater to the postcard enthusiasts with local products. Perhaps in the smaller community the pharmacies served then (as they often do today) as mini-departmental stores carrying a variety of small goods in addition to the medical supplies which formed the core of their activities.
Of course many of the national publishers such as Warwick & Rutter, Pugh, Stedman, and Valentine all had postcard images of Summerside and the surrounding communities and these would have been available from a variety of sellers in the town. However some of the merchants in Summerside also placed orders with publishers in Ontario and elsewhere and had cards published under merchant’s names with cards identified either as “published by” or published for.”
P.N. Enman was a Summerside druggist. In 1904 he took over control of a firm that had been founded in 1881 and accordingly was one of the oldest pharmacies in Prince County. The Enman name continued to be carried by a Summerside drug store for decades after Enman’s death in 1931. Percy Enman was also involved in the Summerside Improvement and Tourist Association and served in 1904 as the chair of the organization’s Tourist Committee. He probably recognized the value of postcards as tourism advertising. Enman appears to have been a customer of the Nerlich Company of Toronto because the postcards published for Enman and bearing his name also carry the Nerlich wordmark. While I have found only three cards of this type it is likely that a number of other images exist.
P.D. Enman Cards – click on any card to enlarge
Methodist Church, Summerside, P.E.I. – published for P.D. Enman, Druggest card # 732 H/21
Summer Street, Summerside P.E.I. – published for P.D. Enman, Druggist card # 732 A/25
Lighthouse, Summerside Harbor, P.E.I. – published for P.D Enman, Druggist card # 732 A/22
Enman was not alone in having postcards printed by Nerlich. The Red Cross Drug Store was in operation during the same period. It was operated by the McLellan family until 1915 when J.E. Gallant, formerly of Tignish purchased the business. Most of the Red Cross Drug Store cards carry the Nerlich logo while several cards for which the publisher is not identified were published for M. J. McLellan or Mrs. M.J. McLellan.
Red Cross Drug Store & McLellan cards – click on any card to enlarge
Central Street, Summerside P.E.I. – published for The Red Cross Drugstore card # A367
Water Street Looking West, Summerside, P.E.I. – published for The Red Cross Drug Store, Summerside, P.E.I. card # 732 A/23
The First P.E. Islander – published for The Red Cross Drug Store, Summerside, P.E.I. card # A371 – Culhane Collection
Water Street Looking East, Summerside, P.E.I. published by Mrs. M.J. McLellan
Central Street, Summerside, P.E.I. – M.J. McLellan, Summerside. P.E.I.
One of the Natives, Richmond near Summerside, P.E.I. – published for Red Cross Drug Store. card # A370 – Culhane Collection
Central Streeet, Summerside, P.E.I. – published for The Red Cross Drug Store, Summerside, P.E.I. card # A368
I am indebted to collector Phil Culhane of Ottawa who alerted me to the Nerlich cards from Summerside and for sending images of several cards in his collection.
Several of the Nerlich card appear to have a code or catalogue number which suggests there are several additional images for the series which have not yet been located.
Additional note – 29 August 2017. Since posting this item I have discovered a couple of cards which show a continuation of this drugstore/postcard link. There is one additional Enman card puiblished by Nerlich & Co. and a new-to-me drugstore, Wm. Kennedy, which also had cards under its name. See the posting here
Arguably the largest producer of postcards on Prince Edward Island was Carter and Company. Hundreds of different cards from the beginning of the postcard era into the 1960s bear the name of the company which was active for more than a century. Carter & Co. (more often than not abbreviated to C. & Co.) appears on many of the cards, others are unidentified as to publisher but contain clues and have a striking similarity to those that are.
Collectors love numbered series because they can more easily identify items they are lacking and the numbers can give a sense of completeness to a run of cards. Carter and Co. cards provide a more difficult cataloguing challenge. Only by amassing information and sharing it among card aficionados can one hope to get a sense of the range of cards. Carter cards appear as a number of different types, not identified on the cards as a series, but rather differentiated by style of the cards.
One of the earliest of the several styles is what I have chosen to call the “Red Letter Cards”.
These cards have the title in red ink with the lettering in block capitals. They also have a characteristic colour palette most noticeable in the sky colour which is almost invariably a light aquamarine shade. The series includes both landscape and portrait formats and the title can appear on either the top or bottom of the card. The card title seems always to contain the name of the province as “P.E. Island”.
The back of the cards in this series is in a standard format identified as a divided back “Souvenir Mailing Card”. The name “C. & Co.” appears on the bottom left of the card.
A slight variation of the card appears as “The Crown Series” printed just under the word “Mailing” on the card back. This sub-series has “Published for C. & Co, Ltd.” on the left side of the card. Several of these cards are in the Red Letter series but most of those in the White Letter run (see below) bear the Crown Series mark.
The Carter Red Letter cards are usually identified as to location but several are more generic with titles such as “Hay-making”, “Pastoral Scene”, or “Morning Dip” – perhaps the Island’s first nudie card.
In early cards the words printer and publisher were often used interchangeably. While Carter and Co. had many lines of business, being a printer was not one of them. George Carter had emerged as one of Charlottetown’s leading seedsmen by the mid 1890s and before the end of the century was operating as a bookseller and stationer as well.
With the development of tourism on the Island Carter developed a sideline in souvenirs and as early as 1903 was advertising postcards for sale. A few years later advertisements would boast that the company has a stock of 500,000 cards on order. Carter’s served as a wholesale distributor for several lines of goods including souvenirs and postcards which continued to be distributed through the firm into the 1970s and later. Although specializing in later years in stationery and office supplies the stock in trade for Carter and Co. for much of the twentieth century was what was, at the time, termed “smallwares”
One of the largest wholesale distributors of smallwares in Canada was the Toronto firm of Nerlich and Company and much of the Carter stock may have come from them. This large firm had been founded in 1858 and continued in business for more than a century. The impressive building that housed the company at 146 Front Street in Toronto still stands.
Nerlich & Co. also were in the postcard business. Their cards have a distinctive Souvenir Mailing Card back with a wordmark with an intertwined N & C. in the same location on the card as the Carter crown series cards.
It is worth noting that the Nerlich cards state “Published by” rather than “Published for” as in the case of the Carter Crown Series cards. The face of the Nerlich cards also include the same design elements and colour palette as seen on the Carter cards. Nerlich cards are relative common for Ontario and a large collection exists for western Canada. Initially I believed that no cards of P.E.I. bore the Nerlich wordmark, but I have since received information to the contrary. [see addendum following example images below] Nerlich had salesmen across the country and wholesale links with manufactures in Japan and Germany. Many pre WW I postcards came from German printers and at least one Nerlich card (from an Ontario location) bears the words “Printed in Germany.” There does not appear to have been any published research to date on Nerlich’s postcard operations in spite of the fact that they were a major producer.
I think there is little doubt that the Carter Red Letter series came as a Prince Edward Island variation of the Nerlich and Co. card output.
There is a related sub-series of Carter cards which carry the Nerlich-type back and other characteristics except that the lettering is in a slightly different typeface and in white letters instead of red.
A selection of Red Letter postcards appears below. Click on any card to begin slide show. For an illustrated catalogue of the 39 Red Letter and 4 White letter known cards in this series click here. As always I would be pleased to learn of any images which might be added to the listings.
Typical Red Letter Card – “New Hillsborough Bridge, Charlottetown, P.E.. Island”
2 August 2017 – In my initial posting I stated that no examples of P.E.I. images with the Nerlich wordmark were known to exist. Phil Culhane, a collector from Ottawa has proven me wrong and sent along scans of two Nerlich card with the same images as Carter cards.
The Provincial Building has the same image as a Carter card except the title of the card is on the bottom rather than the top and the title includes the word Canada. The Fort Edward card is exactly the same as the Carter example.
The back of the card is the standard Nerlich design with wordmark and the phrase “Published by Nerlich & Co. Toronto, Canada.” Since then a number of other Nerlich cards published for P.E.I. card sellers have also been located. See the posting titled Drugs…. and Postcards
The obvious question following from this discovery is how many more Nerlich cards of P.E.I. are out there?