The definition of what is a view card is not a hundred percent the same, depending on the source. Also it was subject to changes over time. "A view card is an official postal stationery postcard with an imprinted indicium. It is issued by a country's postal authority. On its front side, it shows – besides the lines and markings of an ordinary postcard – a picture (a view) with a legend. A view card must not be issued to celebrate or promote an anniversary or an event. However, in the legend's text it may be mentioned." In a 1938 ordinance, the German Reichspost (postal administration) defines a view card as follows: "View cards: The upper half of the left side of the front side of an official postcard with an imprinted indicium – except those with a non definitive indicium – may be used to advertise or promote spas, health resorts and local municipalities. "
Some parts of the definition are essential. Ranking first is the official character. Besides the official view cards there are thousands of private postcards with a view. These have an indicium that is officially imprinted by a postal authority, but has a privately added view. Second most important is that the view is on the front side not at the back. The front side per definition is the side that carries the indicium. The third most important point is that the cards are not exclusively issued to honour or promote an event. In later years this point was not taken too serious any more by many countries' postal administrations.
The first view cards were issued outside Europe at the end of the 19th century, for instance in Queensland, Mozambique, Argentina, and Peru. In Europe the first countries started with it after WW I, in order to promote their needy tourism. The first cards were issued by Switzerland, followed by the German Reich, Danzig, and Austria.
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