In the early 1900s postcards became the “e-mails” of the day. Postcards were introduced at the 1893 Columbia Exposition and the years between 1903 and 1915 are now known as the Golden Age of Postcards. In 1907 over 700 million were mailed in the US when the US population was only 100 million. Asheville was at the center of the postcard boom with tens of thousands of visitors each year eager to send home pictures and messages. Herbert W. Pelton and George Masa were among the early photographers and postcard publishers.
Joe and Mary Standaert began collecting vintage postcards of Asheville and Buncombe County in 1987 and now have over 3,500 local cards. Each card is a puzzle and the best ones tell a story. Many cards are “little works of art.”
Joe and Mary use their collection to share the history of Asheville and Buncombe County giving talks to local groups and teaching a course on the history of the Swannanoa Valley for the McCall Life-Long Learning Program. They have written 4 books focusing on local history: Montreat, A Postcard History (Arcadia Press); The Swannanoa Valley, A Postcard History (Arcadia Press); The Montreat Gateboys and Their Stories (self-published) and The Buncombe County Name Game (self-published). The latter received the 2021 Griffin Award for Education from the Asheville and Buncombe County Preservation Society.
Mary is a retired Research Biochemist and Joe is retired from Information Technology. In retirement they share similar interests including leading history hikes for the Swannanoa Valley Museum and local botany hikes. Mary and Joe have lived in Montreat since 2006 and sing in the choir at Montreat Presbyterian Church.