Postcard Set Review #1: Wildflowers of California by A.R. Valentien

by syaffolee

I’ve been thinking for a while about a series of reviews on postcard sets (books, boxes, or otherwise) that I’ve bought and personally used to send to other people. While these reviews will be more like “lightning” reviews and the frequency would be sporadic, it’s more for my own documentation and edification. Feel free to skip to the pictures below if you don’t feel like reading blather.

Several years ago, when I was still living in San Diego, I was browsing the gift shop of the San Diego Natural History Museum and came across this postcard book: Wildflowers of California. I was just beginning my postcard hobby at the time and this seemed like a pretty good deal, getting an entire book of postcards rather than purchasing them one at a time at a dollar a piece. I didn’t think too much about the artist or the subject matter at the time, only that I liked it because I like nature illustrations in general and flowers seemed like a fairly inocuous thing to mail to other random people without possibly offending any sensibilities.

This was also where I first encountered something that was published by Pomegranate–which I later learned also made a lot of other stationary and specialized in printing postcard books of fine art that could be found in a number of different museums. There’s definitely a certain style to postcards printed by Pomegranate. The card stock for postcard books is durable but slippery. I’m always afraid that any ink will smudge if it gets wet and the surface is not good for writing with ballpoint pens which require a rougher surface.
It was only later that I learned who Albert Robert Valentien was and why I was only able to find this postcard book at the San Diego Natural History Museum. It’s a shame that it’s too difficult to find a copy online and another shame that Valentien never saw his work (which took a decade to finish!) get published. His illustrations are really quite wonderful.