Based in San Francisco (so not strictly Parisian, but up to the same caper), Alta was active in the 1910s and 20s.
Louis-Amedee Mante (1826-1913), worked with his son-in-law, Edmond Goldschmidt, on early colour processes. Some cards included in this folder bear the mark DM, sometimes with the same numbering.
Armand Noyer. Photographer-turned-publisher who distributed work by Mandel and Waléry. See also A Noyer and NP. Waléry's portraits of dancing girls are in a separate folder, 'Casino, Follies and Moulin'.
A publisher with similarities to Corona and Super. I know of only four series and they could well be by Mandel.
This is the mark of L Branger of Nanterre.
Atelier Waléry, the studio of Lucien Waléry (aka Count Ostrorog)known for portraits of revue dancers published by AN, as well as postcards of single nudes and posed tableaus of erotic encounters. Active 1920-1929.
These photos are clearly marked 'The Aurora Studios' (in English) and dated from 1912 to 1915, but that's all anyone seems to know about them.
BG or GB
Is it BG or GB? I have no idea. These postcards appear to be pre-WWI, but other than that I have no information about this mark.
This Paris studio was begun by Jacques (1887-1942) and Charles Biederer (1892-1942), Jewish Czech émigrés. In the 1920s and 30s they produced artistic nudes and fetish scenes (with humour). The brothers were transported separately to Auschwitz-Birkenau and murdered.
Do these initials have a link with BV? Many of the models and some of the scenery are to be found under other marks.
N Boulanger is known for producing, around the time of the Great War, rather surreal photo-montages of girls morphing into flowers or insects. All very odd.
Bernard Viaux - the name is all I know about this mark. The photos would seem to date from around the 1910s. Some series are shared with Nelly and Nadar; indeed, some cards have two marks - BV and the N of Paul Nadar.
I don't know what the C stands for, but there are some stylistic similarities with Corona, SAPI and Étoile.
CA or AC
Another mysterious publisher whose name I haven't managed to find. The cards are interchangeable with those marked LD.
The four Cs stand for Charles Collas et Cie de Cognac. In French, the cloverleaf logo would be called a 'trèfle'.
A major producer in the later period, with Jeanne Juilla as their star model. There may be a connection with Super - the style and models are very similar - they even share a logo design.
The spread of numbers would suggest a big publishing operation, but these cards are hard to find. I've come across a number of different logos. I wonder if they're all the same company?
A monster in the Parisian postcard business, named after Ernest Louis Désiré le Deley (1859–1917). They may not have produced many of the nudes that qualify for Gracie's Collection, but I wrote Story 2 about them anyway.
ELF specialised in rather quirky comedy tableaux against a white backdrop. It was a popular formula and other publishers put out similar cards, though not as seriously as ELF - see BMV (especially), ER and Super. I don't know what ELF stands for. Also see amazing Story 5.
We are led to understand that ER stands for Escarra of Rhône. It's good to have a name, but that's all we have. I cannot find any more information about Escarra, including why, if he comes from Rhône, his mark says he is from Paris.
That's French for 'star'. Classifying a postcard as 'Étoile' is contentious as this publisher rarely used a logo, so all we can go on are photographic style, the models and the sets. If I'm right, it's the second largest group in Gracie's Collection. There are similarities with M and SAPI cards.
This appears to be unconnected to Étoile. Only a handful of postcards found.
GA and GP
Georges Agélou; P for Paris perhaps? This logo may have replaced the GA one. You sometimes find the same card with different logos, presumably issued before, and reissued after, the change. Georges died in a car crash with his brother in 1921.
GA and GP
Georges Agélou, the elder of the two brothers. It is said that Georges looked after the business side of the partnership, but that hardly explains why his initials are on so many postcards. The logo is used interchangeably with GP, so in my collection they're filed together.
Georg Gerlach AG was a prolific producer of portrait and celebrity postcards, based in Berlin. They published some (very tasteful) nudes in later series, some of them with delicate colouring.
Charles Wesley Gilhousen (1867-1929) was an American photographer, not a publisher, but I have some of his snaps in my collection because his nudes (although supposed to be arty) are actually quite similar to those peddled on Parisian cards at the same time - around WWI.
The Agélous seem to have had as much trouble cataloguing the cards with Georges' name on them as they did with Jean's (see Story 6). This GP is clearly an Agélou mark, but the numbering is largely incompatible with the main 'GP and GA', so I've kept them separate.
These are quite rare. Some are marked 'GROB', which could mean 'Gross' perhaps and suggest a German origin?
I haven't been able to find anything about this publisher. In style, the few HSB postcards in Gracie's Collection most resemble NPG and I wonder if HSB has German origins. Information please, deltiologists.
This is Jean Agélou (1878-1921), brother of Georges and a prolific erotic postcard photographer and producer from about 1900. Jean used two marks, which have overlapping series numbers. There's more about the JA numbering system in Story 6.
Multiple numbering systems
Jean Agélou again. From the increased sophistication of the posing and improved quality of the photography, it seems probable that he used this mark later than the round one.
These two outfits have so many series in common that I lump them together. Where the numbers are different, I use JAK's system. A lot of coloured cards here, often with elaborate scenery, and some involving lusty lads (no smut though).
Thought to be the initials of Jacques Biederer, these 20s postcards possibly predate the somewhat kinkier '?'-marked cards - see Biederer.
I used to catalogue JB and OB separately, but then realised their cards were the same, whether marked JB or OB, and of course the logos use the same style of writing. So now they're kept together. Probably 1900s-1910s.
This pre-Great-War publisher is a little different from the big houses, so was perhaps independent, though it shares a series with JA round, and has quite a few in common with La Grisette.
Has some shots in common with JR, and some appear to have been taken by one of the Agélou brothers. A 'grisette' is a 'French working-class woman, particularly a pretty and flirtatious one', according to the dictionary. Good name.
A rare mark from the early period with a lot in common with CA and LD.
These come my way very seldom. They look to be pre-WWI, but that's all I know about this publisher.
I read that LD stands for L Dupont, but I have no corroboration for this. The cards are identical with those marked CA and have a lot in common with La Pensée.
Léo de Pradet, a hugely successful publisher of postcards from the mid-20s. Leo produced cards in many different colour tones, from sepia to blue and violet.
A small operation whose cards have stylistic similarities with some other 20s publishers such as BMV, ER and Super.
A smallish publisher from the middle period with simple poses and no elaborate scenery.
The style of photography and staging of many of these cards have many of the characteristics of the highly prolific Agélous.
Reasonably scarce postcards from the early period.
This is one of two imprints owned by the Oliviery company. The photos are stylistically very similar to those from Étoile, SAPI and NP, suggesting that the photography is by Julien Mandel. Could the M possibly be his initial?
Paul Nadar (1855-1939) was the son of the famous French photographer Felix Tournachon (nicknamed Nadar) and started making celebrity portraits in his father’s studio. In the 1920’s photo postcards were produced under the Nadar name, some hand coloured.
The style of these cards has much in common with BV, in fact some series are shared between the two marks. Perhaps the logo belongs to Bernard Viaux?
Armand Noyer, photographer from the 1910s, began pinups in the 20s, publishing many Julien Mandel shots. See also AN and NP.
This is the third mark to publish signed photos by Julien Mandel. Going by the series numbers, he seemed to change marks in the sequence AN, NP, Noyer, so NP could be another Armand Noyer mark - perhaps 'Noyer Paris'? Mandel's work for other houses wasn't signed.
Neue Photographische Gesellschaft was a group of 35 photographers founded in Berlin. It incorporated in 1894 and became the largest manufacturer of bromide postcards in the world before closing in 1948. The nude classical poses are reminiscent of AM and HSB.
I have only one series with this obscure mark.
I suppose this could be a violet, but I've always called this mark 'Pansy'. The photos are in the Agélou style.
Papeteries de Levallois-Clichy was registered as a printing and card publishing company in 1920s Paris, using the ‘grand luxe marque’ PC and the ‘luxe marque’ Rex.
Another 20s publisher. I wonder if it morphed into SAPI (a clever anagram of PISA)?
One series only - a bizarre tableau from around the time of WWI.
A fairly rare publishing mark from the 20s or 30s. The style is reminiscent of the Biederer brothers.
The logo seems to say 'Praga Phot.', but I don't know if these cards originate in Czechoslovakia or not.
Another publisher from the later period - the 30s perhaps.
Cards from around the First World War, with some similarities to Luxe and VG.
This looks like another vehicle for Julien Mandel. In the absence of a better explanation for the name, I suggest it's an anagram of Pisa. Added evidence is the alternative Sapi logo, in the same script typeface as the Pisa logo.
Another studio active on the 20s. At least one series is by Paul Nadar.
Oliviery was founded in 1901 in Nanterre, today a Paris suburb, and licensed to produce postcards and other photos under two marques: the olive sprig and M. SOL experimented extensively with hand-colouring.
This appears to be yet another Agélou vehicle - all the familiar props are there.
Or is it 'STP'? The postcards I have are photomontages from the 1900s.
One of the major 20s postcard publishers, with a lot in common with Corona and PC.
The posed tableaus in some of these cards are reminiscent of Atelier Waléry, so could SW stand for Studio Waléry, perhaps?
What is this? A duck? The Loch Ness Monster? Being charitable, I've always considered this logo to be a swan. Whatever, it seems to represent a minor publisher, perhaps from the '10s.
These appear to be reissues (copies?) of 20s photographs by Julien Mandel published by AN and PC.
An odd mix of classical poses reminiscent of AM or NPG and photo montages, some featuring Miss Fernande.
A mark from the early period, with all the signs of photography by Georges Agélou.
A very similar mark to VC, with connections to GA and series in common with RR.
The Yva Richard fetishwear company was begun in Paris in 1914 by L. Richard and his wife Nativa. In the 20s they began taking photos, with Nativa the main model, but were closed down by the Nazis in 1943. Most YR pics are a bit kinky for my collection, but I keep the tasteful ones.
Copy to come.
The companies that published what is now "the best vintage erotica on the web."