By William Bork 

Thumb Butte stands like a sentinel in full dress on an early postcard sold by W. H. Timerhoff, a Prescott druggist. Another card depicts in clear detail part of Prescott's other famous landmark, Granite Dells, then called "Point of Rocks," ten miles to the Butte's northeast. These two viewcards are finely printed vignettes of the landscape near our town, as they appeared in the early 1900's. 

These cards, and others of Timerhoff's, are unusual in that they do not bear the name of a printer. However, this writer has an exact duplicate of the Thumb Butte image printed by H.H. Tamen, Denver, Colorado, on a yellow, instead of clear white, card stock. From this we probably can assume that all of these fine vignettes of Timerhoff's came from Denver instead of from Germany, unlike all the other postcards sold in Prescott before 1908-09. This tells us something about Prescott's cultural atmosphere in the decades prior to World War II, and of the historical background of the postcard craze.

In the latter years of the 1800s the tourist industry in Europe, and especially in Germany and Austria-Hungary, began publication of quantities of Ansichtspostkarten or "viewcards." Collecting such cards became such a rage in the 1890s that it quickly spread to the United States. The mountain mining town and fledgling tourist and health resort of Prescott was a busy participant in this activity thanks to Erwin Baer, a German-born photographer, and Harry Brisley, a Canadian pharmacist. These two handled the largest volume and were longtime purveyors of postcards in the community. Several competing druggists, Corbin and Bork, Timerhoff, Frederick J. Heil Jr., and later A.W. Robinson, newsdealer, added to the number. 

At first, the cards were printed entirely in Germany by the Albertype Company, which set up a branch in Brooklyn, New York, about 1908. This company provided cards until the craze died out in the 1930s. "Albertype" referred to the type of printing process invented in the 1850s by an Alsatian. This method of reproducing photographs was highly successful and the quality of the work was not superseded until the development of rotogravure in the 1930s. Color printing by the same method was also very successful, but too costly to become commonplace.

Erwin Baer, a native born German, flourished in Prescott from the 1890s and published at least one fine album of photographs before 1902. M. Rieder of Los Angeles, another German native, was an active sales representative for German printers. Therefore, he became the link between German Albertype printers and Prescott's druggist postcard retailers. Heil was the one druggist whose postcards, printed in Germany, bear Erwin Baer's name. 

Future articles on Prescott viewcards will tell about how they chronicled the history of our city streets and public buildings in the first decade of the 1900s. 

Note: See Days Past article for November 15, 1998. 

William Bork is a long time Prescott resident.

Illustrating image

Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (pb009f8i4)
Reuse only by permission.

This viewcard is an 'Albertype' printed in New York City. The Prescott-Jerome road is 89A going over Mingus Mountain. Photograph undated, probably circa 1910. 

Illustrating image

Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (pb009f8i2)
Reuse only by permission.

This viewcard of one of Prescott's famous landmarks, Granite Dells, then called "Point of Rocks", 10 miles to the northeast of Thumb Butte, shows the landscape near our town as it appeared circa 1905. 

Illustrating image

Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (citn268pg)

Reuse only by permission.
Viewcard showing Gurley Street looking west to another famous landmark, Thumb Butte, circa 1925.