On November 1, 1897 the new Library of Congress building opened to the public. Ainsworth Rand Spofford, the sixth Librarian of Congress who was largely responsible for getting the building built, referred to it as the "Book Palace of the American People". Some even claimed that it was "The World's Most Beautiful Building". The building was renamed the Thomas Jefferson Building in 1980. IMHO it should have been named the Ainsworth Rand Spofford Building. I am a collector of a wide variety of artifacts that feature the 1897 building. One of the indicators of the beauty and importance of the building is the number of picture postcards that feature the exterior and interior of the building. On a recent search of eBay there were over 2,000 Library of Congress postcards listed which is more than any other library. I have over 150 in my personal collection of library postcards. There are also a large number of other souvenir items that feature the building. The history of the Library of Congress building coincides very well with the history of picture postcards. There are excellent examples of Library of Congress postcards for every postcard era. Here are a few from my collection.
PIONEER ERA (1873-1898)
1894 U.S. Post Office issue postal card. Mailed to Freiburg, Germany on Nov. 7, 1897, only 6 days after Library of Congress building opened to the public.
PRIVATE MAILING CARD ERA (1898-1901)
Mailed via the S.S. Kronprinz Wilhelm to Floha, Sachsen, Germany on April 5, 1902 just 7 months after its maiden voyage.
UNDIVIDED BACK / POST CARD ERA (1901-1907)
Washington, DC to Hagerstown, MD, Sept. 27, 1906.
DIVIDED BACK ERA (1907-1915) GOLDEN AGE OF POSTCARDS
Washington, DC to Lyon, France, April 21, 1908. Images of exterior and reading room.
WHITE BORDER ERA (1915-1930)
Great Falls, VA to Canton, NJ, Aug. 2, 1929.
LINEN ERA (1930-1945)
Unmailed. 1940 date on back.
CHROME ERA (1939-PRESENT)
REAL PHOTO POSTCARD (RPPCs) (1900-PRESENT)
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