Prior to 1898, only the U. S. Post Office could manufacture post cards. They were generic cards that were blank on one side for the sender to write a message. The other side had printed postage with space for a mailing address. These postcards cost 1¢ to mail.
In 1898 Congress authorized the use of cards manufactured by others. These cards could not be called “postcards,” as this term was restricted to cards printed by the Post Office. They were often called “Private Mailing Cards” or “Private Cards.” One side was reserved for the address; the other side could contain any printed or written matter.
Post Cards Undivided Back (1901 – 1907)
In 1901 the manufacturers of private mailing cards were allowed to use the term “Post Card.” Many manufacturers tried to leave some white space so the sender could add a written message. Often the sender would write across the picture.
Divided Back (1907 – 1915)
In 1907, Congress allowed the back to be divided so that the sender could write a message on the left side of the back and the address to which the post card was to be sent on the right side. At first, the message area was much smaller than the address area, but eventually the two areas became the same size. Most of these cards were printed in Germany. When World War I broke out, this industry suffered greatly and many of the printing plants were never re-built after the war.Postage was temporarily raised to 2¢ from 1917 to 1919 to cover the cost of World War I.