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.




Suitable for Framing

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.

Portfolio cover. This design was probably used for a number of different locations.

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.

Vignette detail for page containing McCoy card #17

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.

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.