Less Than Perfect Harmony: Man and Machine In Postcard History

Bad news has always sold well and disasters often feature on early postcards like this one from New York in 1905.  Ironically, it occurred on September 11th when a high-level train jumped the tracks killing eleven passengers and one passer by.  The driver was held responsible immediately went on the run being arrested two years later in San Francisco.

Accidents involving all kinds of transport are a particularly prevalent theme from postcards in the early part of the twentieth century. The lack of safety features and an arrogant belief in our superiority over mere machinery would provide no shortage of subjects.  Any number of picture postcards feature the aftermath of car, plane and shipwrecks, a bemused public gawking at a tangle of metal and scattered debris. Yet some of the more sought-after postcards actually show the ‘before’ picture of notable disasters. Cards featuring the Hindenburg or the Titanic in their pomp have particular appeal.

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