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Curt Teich Co. records

 Collection
Identifier: Midwest-MS-Teich Co.

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection is the nation’s largest public collection of postcards and related materials. The core collection in the Teich Archives, acquired by the Lake County Discovery Museum in 1982 and subsequently transferred to the Newberry in 2016, is the industrial archives of the Curt Teich Company of Chicago, which operated from 1898 to 1978 as the world’s largest printer of view and advertising postcards. The Teich Company saved examples of nearly every image printed, as well as company records and the original production materials for each card.

The core collection consists of over 360,000 images, from 1898 to 1978, relating to more than 10,000 towns and cities primarily in the United States and Canada, and more than 115 other foreign countries. Original production materials exist for about 110,000 postcards, dating from 1926 to approximately 1960, including photographic prints and negatives; letters; pencil and watercolor sketches; other layout materials; and physical remnants such as wallpaper, flooring and textiles, which had been sent to the Teich Company to serve as color and pattern samples. The Geographic Index is a handwritten and typed index by place (and to a small extent by subject) to the postcards produced by Curt Teich & Co. The company records include order files, some financial information, and promotional materials. The artifacts include printing chases, lithographers' stones, and other realia relating to the production and promotion of postcards.

Dates

  • 1898-2002
  • Majority of material found within 1900-1978

Creator

Language

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Curt Teich Co. Records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).
Many parts of the collection are in process and not immediately available for research; it is advisable to contact the Newberry at reference@newberry.org to set up an appointment before visiting.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Curt Teich Co. Records are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

History of Curt Teich & Co.

Curt Otto Teich (1877-1974) immigrated to Chicago, Illinois from Germany in 1895. In 1898 he established his own printing firm located at 59-61 Clybourn Avenue in Chicago with his brother Max as a silent partner. At this time Curt Teich and Company specialized in job, newspaper, and magazine printing. After a trip to Germany in 1904, Teich returned with knowledge of modern European printing methods. He began to print postcards with his own process using black halftone plates and adding colors by the lithographic process. In 1909 Teich approached the Scott Printing Press Company of New York to make an offset press large enough to print thirty-two cards to the sheet. The Teich Company became the first to successfully produce color postcards on an offset press.

Curt Teich and Company moved from Clybourn Avenue to LaSalle and Ohio Streets in 1907 and then purchased the building and adjacent vacant lot at 1733-55 W. Irving Park Road. After renovating the building, commissioning a new press and purchasing new equipment, the company moved to the new location in 1911. In 1922 a five-story East Building was erected on the empty lot, designed by Teich’s brother Frederick, a Chicago architect. The floors in the new building were designed to hold heavier loads then those in the existing building.

During the height of the company’s operation in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, both buildings were in full use. The fifth floor of the east section contained the archives, Advertising Department, files, reception area, and mailroom. The fourth floor was dedicated to photography with cameras, darkrooms, color separation area, and proofing press. This floor also contained an Art Department for the movie poster division. The main Art Department was located on the third floor. The third floor of the West Building held the Photolith Department. The second floors of both the East and West Buildings were devoted to the printing presses. Up to thirty presses, approximately thirty feet long, ten feet wide and ten feet high operated simultaneously. Paper for the presses was raised by elevator from the first floor, fed through the press, then lowered back down to the first floor for cutting and shipping.

During the 1930s a new color process was perfected by the Teich Company called the “C. T. Art Colortone.” In 1949 a process developed by Curt Teich, Jr. called “Curteichcolor,” was introduced. It was an exclusive four color process produced from a color transparency and plastic coated.

During World War II the Curt Teich Company received a commission from the Army Map Service. Over three million maps were printed by the company—100 percent of the invasion maps and half of all other maps used by the army.

In 1939 Curt Teich, Sr. stepped down as head of the company and management was taken over by his son Curt Teich, Jr., as president, and Frank Hochegger. Ralph Teich began working full-time for the company in 1949 in the photolitho department, but later moved to sales.

In 1974 the Teich family sold Curt Teich and Company. It then became Curt Teich Industries under the leadership of Norm Goldman. Regensteiner Publishing Enterprises, another Chicago printing firm, purchased the business in 1976 and continued producing postcards with the Curt Teich name until 1978. In 1980 the Curteichcolor process and name was purchased by the John Hinde company. The John Hinde Curteich, Inc. division of the company still operates out of Oxnard, California (as of 2010).

Extent

5000 Linear Feet (size approximate and subject to change)

Abstract

The Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection is the nation’s largest public collection of postcards and related materials. The core collection in the Teich Archives, acquired by the Lake County Discovery Museum in 1982 and subsequently transferred to the Newberry in 2016, is the industrial archives of the Curt Teich Company of Chicago, which operated from 1898 to 1978 as the world’s largest printer of view and advertising postcards. The Teich Company saved examples of nearly every image printed, as well as company records and the original production materials for each card. The core collection consists of over 360,000 images, from 1898 to 1978, relating to more than 10,000 towns and cities primarily in the United States and Canada, and more than 115 other foreign countries. Original production materials exist for about 110,000 postcards, dating from 1926 to approximately 1960, including photographic prints and negatives; letters; pencil and watercolor sketches; other layout materials; and physical remnants such as wallpaper, flooring and textiles, which had been sent to the Teich Company to serve as color and pattern samples.

Organization

Papers are organized in the following series
Record Group 1: Production Files, 1925-1972, bulk 1925-1956
Undetermined
Record Group 2: Postcards, 1898-1978
Undetermined
Record Group 3: Geographic Index, 1900-1974
11.3 linear feet (27 boxes)
Record Group 4: Miscellaneous Company Records, 1899-2002
40 linear feet (6 record cartons, 20 boxes, 2 oversize boxes, and 68 volumes)
Record Group 5: Artifacts, approximately 1900s-1970s
Undetermined

Collection Stack Location

B, 1, 2, 3a, 4, and 4a stacks

Provenance

Donated by the Lake County Forest Preserve District as part of the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection at the Newberry Library, 2016.

Processed by

Lake County Discovery Museum staff, 2010-2015; Newberry Library staff, 2016-ongoing.

Creator

Title
Inventory of the Curt Teich Co. records, 1898-2002, bulk 1900-1978
Status
In Process
Author
Alison Hinderliter
Date
©2017.
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts Repository

Contact:
60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States
312-255-3512