Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, February 18, 2007, pg. 7

Some of the photographs published in this column through the years have come from picture postcards of our town. I enjoy looking at old Albion postcards and try to obtain cards with local scenes not published before, to share with our readers. It’s fun to go to postcard shows and look up Albion postcards, or to look at someone’s personal collection. If you’ve got old Albion postcards you don’t want, let me know.

Postcards were once an inexpensive way of communication. These often contained photographs of buildings, scenic natural beauty, and landmarks of a community. The postcard heyday years from 1900 to World War I saw many cards containing photographs which were commercially mass-produced. These usually were of the high school or downtown scenes. Postcard collectors however, especially look for “real photos,” that don’t have the commercial “dots” in them. These often contain one-of-a-kind scenes of some particular business establishment or some unusual view not encountered in the commercially produced ones.

There is another category of “local” postcards however, that I have found interesting which I will introduce to our readers this week. These are the “not really Albion” postcards. Oh, they have the name “Albion” printed on them, but by looking at them, you know they aren’t. These type of cards were manufactured by postcard printers who just printed the name of a local town in the blank space.

The most prominent of these show some generic nature scene like you’d have on a jigsaw puzzle: a red barn, a dirt road, a lake, and a mountain background. At the bottom outside of the margin in the lower left in small print are the words, “Greetings from Albion, Michigan.” Of course we all know that Albion doesn’t look like that.

One particular card I happen to be looking at as I write this, shows a drawing of a man and woman in a canoe. The caption reads, “We’re having a nice quiet time at Albion, Mich. It’s grand here.” The words “Albion, Mich” is in different type font than the rest of the card and you can tell that it was added later.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present such a card, circa 1910. Printed in color, it shows a Dutch boy (from Holland) eating a sweet roll with his right hand, and a coffee cup in his left hand. He is wearing wooden shoes. On the left is a triangular pennant; the top is red, the bottom green. The word “ALBION” has been overprinted on the flag. The ethnic-accent legend reads, “It iss a fine vedder in ALBION. You vould grow fat if you vas here.” Historically, Albion has not had a Dutch population as a prominent ethnic group, so they really picked the wrong town. But nonetheless here a little Dutch boy appears promoting our fine city. How many of our readers have seen other “not really Albion” postcards before?

If you want to look at real Albion postcards, you can find them illustrated on the www.Michiganpostcards.com website. Just click on the “gallery” option, choose the county “Calhoun,” then the city of Albion. There are several dozen Albion picture postcards posted here.

Dutch Albion Post Card, circa 1910


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