Postcards are a medium of the masses. Irrespective of existing differences in class and status, they were bought, written on, send and collected by the millions. It is not by coincidence that the rise of the postcards occurred around 1870. This was the time that a market for mass media products such as the press, cinema and gramophone began to emerge in Germany. While the postcard, standardised to 9 x 14 cm, was initially used purely as a writing medium, the triumphal procession of postcards began around 1880, showing not only landscapes and cityscapes but also public figures.

The series of postcards of Göttingen professors exhibited here, was distributed in the 1930s and 1940s by various local sellers and was mainly aimed at a student clientele. They served as personal devotional objects but also sent to parents and friends as showpieces of one’s status. In addition, they can also be viewed as early marketing attempts for the city as well as the University, designed to extend the popularity of Göttingen’s Science elite beyond the local borders.

The iconography of Göttingen’s professor postcards developed along similar lines to contemporary portrait practice. Elements of film star postcards from early cinema can be seen in them, as well as the effects of avant-garde portrait photography of the interwar period, focusing strongly on faces.

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