Friday, April 18, 2008

Looking Back

Main Street Looking West, Sylva, NC

A Mountain Xpress article caught my attention this week. Jon Elliston writes about a new collection and exhibit of historic North Carolina postcards. "Greetings from North Carolina: A Century of Postcards From the Durwood Barbour Collection" is a new exhibit at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library (through September 30). Barbour recently donated 9000 postcards, dated from 1892 to 1994 to the library’s North Carolina Collection. Many of the cards were produced by the Asheville Postcard Company, founded in 1910.

If you can’t get to Chapel Hill, selections are online at where an interactive map allows you to select cards from across the state. Very cool!

I’ve collected vintage WNC postcards for a few years. There’s no shortage of the linen-era cards, with their rough texture and gaudy colors, depicting waterfalls, and bears and factories and main streets of the region. They’re not particularly expensive and you can find plenty of sellers on the internet. And a collection doesn’t take up much space, which is a good thing, since the hobby can become addictive.

I should probably concentrate on waterfalls, or scenes from the Smokies, because it seems an infinite number of postcards were devoted to both those subjects. But that would leave out too many other fine cards.

Pre-dating the linen cards were cards printed in Germany and Switzerland and they were of superior quality. I need to scan some of the Swiss cards featuring scenes from the Biltmore Estate. Really, I need to be posting more of the collection. [Click on the "vintage postcard" label at the bottom of this story to view all the cards posted to date.]

OK, that’s the first theft. Here’s the second:

Screwy Hoolie over at BlogAsheville rightfully recommends an "absolutely incredible" site, WNC Heritage. The site includes more than 3000 Asheville photos from long ago and "also has documents, drawings, and oral history in a searchable database."

From the posted comments, I see that other folks are delighting in this archive as well. Looks like a site you could browse for hours. You'll find gems like this house amidst the Asheville Flood of 1916. It's almost as good as being there, if not better.

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