Carter and Company’s Souvenir Series

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.