Non-card Postcards


Not all postcards were printed on card or photographic paper, leather and wood were sometimes used. Images were often burned into leather or wood using hot tools (pyrography), wooden postcards sometimes used printed imges.


Leather postcards were very popular from around 1900 to 1909 when the postal service banned them. Being soft and pliable, they were apparently too difficult to process using the sorting machines then in use. The postcards were generally made from deerskin and were decorated with the tip of a hot implement. The process was called pyrography and was a popular art form for middle class young women. As well as leather, the process was also used on wood and some wooden postcards have also survived.

One popular way to use the leather postcards was to collect them and sew them together to make a pillow or cushion. In fact, some leather postcards were produced with holes pre-punched along their edges for this purpose.

Most leather postcards were roughly the same shape and size as regular postcards but some were made in various shapes.

Some Leather Postcards From My Collection

Greetings from Terre Haute

Greetings from Terre Haute

This leather used postcard, stamped in Oakwood, Illinois but with an unreadable date, has the following printed text...

Terre Haute, Ind.
All rights reserved
P. Harris, Buffalo

It's the little things
in life that count.

How Does It Strike You? Terre Haute, Ind.

How Does It Strike You? Terre Haute, Ind.

This leather postcard, posted in Terre Haute but with an unreadable postmark, has the text...

All rights Reserved
P. Harris, Buffalo

There are some striking girls in Terre Haute, Ind.

There are some striking girls in Terre Haute, Ind.

This leather postcard, posted in Terre Haute on October 5th, 1907, has no other printed text.

Many of these leather cards were published between 1900 and 1910 by P. Harris of Buffalo, New York. Another artist and publisher was W. S. Heal who seems to have been most active at that time as well.

Phonocards & Phonoposts

I have to admit I have never even seen a phonocard or phonopost. "The basic idea of a gramophone postcard is to glue a single sided miniature disc record onto a postcard and punch a center hole through both card and disc. Since the normal shellac compound used in the manufacture of disc records would be too heavy and breakable, the disc records could be made of plastic material or celluloid. "

The best sources of information I can find about them are on the excellent Rainer E. Lotz website on the Phonocards & Phonopost page, and the Vinyl Postcards page of the Museu de la Música, Barcelona site.

Wooden Postcards

Wooden postcards are roughly the same size as regular postcards and although the earliest were made around 1900, were more popular between 1930 and 1960, and then had a little resurgence from around 1990 to the current day, especially in the western states.

Like leather postcards, the designs were often burned into the wood (pyrography), but were also sometimes printed onto them. Modern wooden postcards are sometimes laser etched.

Sources and Resources

A Look at Leather Postcards
Phonocards & Phonoposts
Postcard made of....
Postcard Novelties
Short-lived frenzy over leather postcards
Vinyl Postcards
Wooden Postcards (Internet Archive) - Part of the great Postcardy site