Martin king of exaggerated postcards

By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
Northeast News
May 22, 2013

 

Postcaard.5.22

 

 

William H. “Dad” Martin of Ottawa, Kan., is considered to be the father of the exaggerated postcard. Some of his better work featured huge ears of corn, giant apples and peaches, stalks of wheat taller than any man and massive pumpkins uprooting a farmstead. Such cards were hugely successful throughout the Great Plains states where agriculture was the life’s blood of rural America.

W.H. Martin moved to Ottawa in 1899 to serve as an apprentice under photographer E.H. Corwin. Eight years later, Martin purchased Corwin’s studio and began crafting the tall tale postcards that would eventually make him a millionaire.

This week, we feature one of Martin’s exaggerated, real photo postcards entitled: “A fight with a mad Pickrel” produced by Martin’s studio in 1911. The exaggerated image is achieved by the photographer taking two black and white pictures of his subjects – a wide shot and a close-up. The enlarged close-up would be cut, placed and then glued over the wide shot, creating the illusion of giant vegetables or animals or men dwarfed by stalks of wheat.

The card is an excellent example of the genre that Martin worked hard to establish. Most of his exaggeration cards feature scenes from around Ottawa, as well as real live Ottawans, including early photography pioneer Bert Underwood of the Underwood & Underwood Studios. At the zenith of its short, four-year existence, Martin Postcard Company reportedly produced more than 7 million exaggerated photo postcards. They were so popular that other postcard companies often stamped their brand on the back and sold them as their own. One source of the day noted that Martin’s studio actually purchased photographic emulsion by the rail car.  Martin by this time had grown tired of the business and sold the company to two Ottawa natives who moved the studio to Kansas City where it was re-named The North American Postcard Company. North American published mostly real photo postcards of various views in the Kansas City region. Today, some of William H. “Dad” Martin’s Western genre real photo cards command top prices at postcard shows throughout the Midwest.

 

 

Comments are closed.

  • Fort Osage serves both past and present

    March 24th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News This week’s postcard is an early Chrome-type postcard published by James Tetrick of Kansas City showing historic Fort Osage near Sibley.


    The original Kansas City Hummer vehicle

    March 17th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News When you think of a Hummer these days, the first thing to probably come to mind is the monstrous SUV that began its life as a utility vehicle


    Greetings from Saint Patrick

    March 10th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News Postcards such as this have long been used to convey greetings conveniently to friends and relatives afar.


    The White Company delivers innovation through history

    March 4th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News “Our standard has always been to build a car able to surmount any road conditions which might be encountered.


    Postcard shows business as usual in 1909

    February 18th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News Risqué postcards, like the one shown here, have been around for as long as postcards themselves.
    Prior to the advent of postcards as a private communication medium, those looking


  • Missouri’s home-state railroad

    February 11th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News Published for the Missouri Pacific–Iron Mountain Railway, the promotional postcard shows a picturesque view as described by the caption: “Along the Missouri River for more than 100 miles


    The early days of downtown

    February 4th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News Hardly the downtown of today, this black and white lithographed postcard shows a view looking east-northeast from the Coates House Hotel at 11th Street and Broadway Boulevard.
    Published by


    Ginger Club Businesses offer Snappy Service

    January 28th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News Hoping to bring more business to their block, merchants in the 300 block of East 12th Street organized a Ginger Club, using a Ginger Snap as an emblem.


    A little slice of Beverly Hills in Independence

    January 21st, 2015
    by

    Northeast News “Beverly Hills Acre Tracts. Ideal home sites on easy terms. City conveniences, no city or special taxes, half-acre lots at the price of city lots.”
    So reads the marketing


    The Interurban could get you there

    January 14th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News The message on this Hall Brothers color postcard mailed on April 24, 1917, to Miss Lula Mercer, care of The Hotel Washington, room 516, Portland, Ore.


  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    Big changes happening at KC University of Medicine and Biosciences

    Joe Jarosz Northeast News March 27, 2015             KANSAS CITY, Missouri — A Northeast college […]

    Dr. Green named Missouri’s Superintendent of the Year

    Northeast News March 26, 2015 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green is super […]

    KCPD swarms the Concourse for photo

    Joe Jarosz Northeast News March 25, 2015             KANSAS CITY, Missouri — If you drove […]