World War I


International News Service W.C.A. Series 145 and 146

The International News Service, part of the Hearst newspapers’ organization, provided extensive coverage of early World War I events for the American public back home.  The British quickly took offense to some of the news reporting that seemed pro-German to them and banned INS reporters from access to British telegraphic services for sending trans-Atlantic cables and reports.  INS reporters were then forced to rely on other agencies and reporters for their continued coverage of war events resulting in a decidedly second-hand role.

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Daily Mail War Photographs

The Daily Mail was a major metropolitan newspaper founded in London in 1896 by Harold and Albert Harmsworth and was an immediate success with circulation exceeding 1,000,000 copies daily. Aimed at the lower and middle classes of English society it often found itself editorially at odds with the British government, a sentiment that carried into the early days of World War I. While the paper often took aim at Lord Kitchener, a British hero and Secretary of State for War, and Prime Minister H.H. Asquith, it was very much still patriotic in tone and very supportive of the common soldiers who filled the ranks. During the war the Daily Mail published a number of battlefield images in postcard form.

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Kavanaugh's War Postals

In 1916 during the U.S. Army’s Mexican Campaign to capture Pancho Villa, photographic coverage was provided to the American people via a series of black and white postcards published by the Chicago Daily News and credited to G.J. Kavanaugh of El Paso, Texas.  Called war postals, this coverage was expanded with the coming of hostilities for American forces in France in 1917-1918.  A second series of war postals was produced highlighting American fighting men in France from 1917 through the end of the war.  Each postcard contains a caption on the image side and a circular imprint for The Chicago Daily News War Postals.  A reverse side imprint says "The Chicago Daily News.  G.J. Kavanaugh.  War Postal Card Department" on the upper end of the message half.  Cards are not numbered so the exact total is not known but it would seem that 30 is a good estimate.

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Salvation Army

The Salvation Army sent women into the front lines in France to provide aid and comfort to American doughboys. Most prominent was their production of doughnuts to give the boys “a taste of home”. A small number of black and white postcards were produced showing doughnut making and consumption. A couple of additional postcards show aid and comfort to the wounded or behind the lines tasks such as the mending uniforms.

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American Colortype Company

The American Colortype Company produced and marketed a set of 28 colored postcards showing both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy in various aspects of training or weaponry. The views depicted are of the World War I era but are domestic locales prior to our involvement in World War I.

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Newspaper Illustrations, Ltd.

Newspaper Illustrations, Ltd., located on The Strand in London, produced and marketed a series of divided back colored postcards of wartime views of the French defense at Verdun. Manufacture was in England but all photographs used were official photographs of the Photograph Section of the French Army.

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L V and Cie Series

LV&Cie was a prolific French publisher of view and topical postcards before and during World War I.  Their war postcards are imprinted with the letters LVC and an index number (i.e. B-3) against a small flag of varying nationalities.  The A prefixed postcard production numbers are more extensive often with a second lower case letter (or sub-division) inserted before the digit(s) (i.e. Aj-6).  All of the postcards were printed in France in color and were artist rendered as opposed to using actual photographs.  Coverage includes military action on both the Western and Eastern Fronts and the Balkans, military life of individual soldiers and a few patriotic themes.  A few examples have simple imprints or titles in French only while the majority contains a lengthier French imprint with an accompanying English translation.

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World War I Colored Tint and Patriotic Postcards

The golden era of postcards was dominated by Germany and Great Britain who ranked first and second respectively in both quantity of postcards produced and printing techniques used.  Many French postcards lacked the same rich colors and print quality and were often quite drab by comparison.  The French did, however, seize the lead in one area of production and that was their development of a hand tinting process for coloring monochrome photograph images.  The subject matter was mainly glamorous postcards of females in exotic dress, hairdos and make-up often glorifying or romanticizing the female form.  Postcards produced using this process were generally attractive and found acceptance throughout Europe.

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Tit-Bits WWI Postcard Checklist

A dictionary definition for the term tit-bit includes two meanings.  The first and more commonly used definition (sometimes spelled tidbit) refers to a small morsel of tasty food.  The term also has a literary definition being a small and particularly interesting (tasty?) item of gossip or information.  The latter definition became the publishing motif for a widely circulated British magazine titled Tit-Bits founded in 1881 that published bits and pieces of entertaining human interest stories taken from books, periodicals and newspapers from around the world.  The company also produced a number of comic books in multiple languages and in World War I a series of 32 postcards depicting life at the front for the troops.  These postcard views most often portrayed the troops engaged in often humorous non-combat activities during rest periods behind the trenches as opposed to the daily battlefield carnage portrayed in the various published  newspapers of the time.

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