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.

  • Ruskin Heights tornado still conjers horror for some

    May 19th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News Fifty eight years ago today, a string of savage storms rose from the southern plains states and tore a devastating path across the Kansas City area that some


    Motel Capri – Northeast’s Gold Standard for Motor Inns

    May 12th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News In the late 1950’s, an empty plat of ground just north of the old Boy’s Hotel at Admiral Boulevard and Highland Avenue caught the eye of three local


    Cursed be the villain who molests these graves

    May 5th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News In January of 1859, the town of Wyandot was incorporated and two streets were cut across what we now know as the Huron Indian Cemetery.


    Cliff Drive’s legacy endures time as a world-class park

    April 28th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News “Cliff Drive, Kansas City, Missouri.”
    So reads the description on the front of this postcard published by the Fred Harvey Company.


    As KC grew, so grew the City Market

    April 21st, 2015
    by

    Northeast News Building the imposing new City Hall at Fifth and Main Streets required the installation of roughly 60 circular caissons, five feet across, to support the massive structure.


  • Fairyland lives on in photo postcard

    April 14th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News This week’s postcard shows the view of Fairyland Park from the top of the roller coaster in the 1930s.


    History remains bridge to the past

    April 7th, 2015
    by

    Northeast News In 1950, there were only two bridges that spanned the Missouri River to the north, offering access to downtown Kansas City.
    The old Hannibal Bridge, originally constructed in 1917,


    Main Street Theater history lives on

    March 31st, 2015
    by

    Northeast News The marquee on the Max Bernstein postcard of the Main Street Theater shows the vaudeville team of Williams and Wolfus playing, as well as Lydia Barry.
    “Williams and Wolfus”


    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


  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    Memorial Day weekend events in and around Kansas City

    Northeast News May 22, 2015 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — There are plenty of events taking place in and around the […]

    Woman charged with murder in child’s death

    Joe Jarosz Northeast News May 20, 2015               KANSAS CITY, Missouri — A Jackson […]

    KCDC students unveil plans for abandoned reservoir

    By Joe Jarosz Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Like the one-time working water reservoir in the Northeast, the Kansas City Design Center students have been overflowing with ideas on how