With the close of the 40's, commercial aviation again started growing, setting new goals which its new aircraft designs would hopefully accomplish. Four engine airliners were the wave of the future and transcontinental air travel was soon to become a reality. Still a glamourous era of air travel, it's not surprising that the airlines and private publishers pumped out millions of cards featuring the latest acquisitions of the airlines that promoted safe, enjoyable air travel. Because the aircraft itself was a star player in this promotion, it is little wonder that so many postcards were produced. It could be said that the postcards produced by George V. Enell came along at a time when the public was still excited about air travel and their curiosity about it was great enough for Enell to create a series of over 50 different cards as well as other mementos of air travel. The production of these cards was not unusual in itself, but because of the subjects and large number of cards in the series, they warrant closer examination.
George V. Enell, photographer and publisher of Aviation News, Inc., worked out of the press room at New York's International Airport at Idlewild providing pictures for the news media. His first postcards most probably appeared sometime in 1950. Although some of the images used were stock airline publicity shots, Enell did publish some of his own photos on his postcards.
It is not too surprising that he also authored a book entitled, "New York Airports in Pictures and Maps", published in 1957. He also produced a small (2¼ x 3½") photo album featuring 10 black and white photos of airlines taken from his postcard series. In the back of the album is a for sale ad offering 8 x 10" photographic prints also from his series of postcards.
The jewel in his crown is his beautiful series of real photo postcards which cover 1950's piston engine and turbo prop airliners although, a couple of jet cards were also published. Even though my list of cards is incomplete, I have been able to document 52 different images and at least 15 more have yet to be accounted for. The series depicts at least 13 different types of airliners and represents over 20 different U.S. and foreign airline companies. Enell also captured the look of Idlewild and LaGuardia Airports during the 1950's with at least 5 different cards of the former and two of the later.
All cards in the series, with the exception of two, have the carrier's name, type of aircraft, postcard number, and signature "by Enell" printed on the front of the card. Some carriers are grouped together to show all aircraft types that flew for that particular airline (Examples: TWA 5, 5A thru 5F; United 13, 13a & 13b). Other carriers were not grouped together but were scattered throughout the series (Examples: Eastern 12, 39, 46; BOAC 26, 35; Sabena 20, 45). Many of the cards I have seen have the Eastman Kodak stylized logo "EKC" stamp box but some cards have different backs. This leads me to conclude that the series must have been printed at least twice and maybe many times. Another reason for this conclusion are differences in Enell's signature and the card numbers in the series. Some of the same cards have both hand written and typed descriptions.
Since the variety of aircraft shown spans several years, the series must have run into the late 50's. The latest airliner that I have seen in the series is an image of a TWA Boeing 707 in 1950's era colors. Incidentally, TWA never used this livery on their 707's. Most aircraft in the series are piston engine airliners whose U.S. manufacturers included: Douglas, Boeing, and Convair although, a few foreign designs such as a Northstar, Viscount and Comet are depicted. The majority of postcards show in-flight air to air shots, probably stock airline photos, but others were Enell's own photos covering the local airport scene. These scenes give us a glimpse of how 1950's airports and air travel looked, before there was a terrorist threat. Back then, watching airplane movements was an enjoyable activity, not a reason to be harassed by the police.
I do not have enough information to conclude that all the cards were produced multiple times, although some undoubtedly were. As the selling of postcards is similar to most businesses I imagine that some cards sold better than others, therefore, some of the slower sellers would have been printed only once. Real photo cards are usually produced in small quantities and this must factor into their scarcity. However, some of the same seem to surface year after year. As with most cards from that era, their value will continue to increase.
In ten years of collecting, I have only seen about three-quarters of the entire series. So, where are the remaining 15 plus cards? Please contact me should you have any of the missing cards from my list that follows. I would be very happy if you did.
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