The Belgian postcards for the RSL all come from the three distinct
postcard eras :-
- Private mailing card (PMC) 19 May 1898 – 24 Dec 1901
- Undivided back (UDB) 25 Dec 1901 – 28 Feb 1907
- Divided back (DB) 1 Mar 1907 –
Following their introduction in GB in 1902, the DB cards spread to
other European countries over the next few years. :-
- France 1904,
- Germany and Luxembourg 1905,
- USA 1906, and finally
- Belgium 1 March 1907.
The international introduction of the DB cards was finally agreed by the UPU in 1906.
The liners of one company, the Red Star Line, are featured. Despite the fact that the RSL was not a large company, it produced some of the finest marine art postcards. It operated one passenger route, from Antwerp to New York, catering mainly for European migration. Core business was supplemented by some cruise programmes. This apparent simplicity of scale and operation does not transfer to the research of the RSL postcards. Some series contain cards from all three eras and records have not been archived. Consequently, little has been written on the history of the line.
Most of the cards were printed by the process of chromolithography. Cards were traditionally published in sets of 4, 6, 7, 8 or 12 and sold either singly or in packets or booklets. Over the years the RSL used all these quantities and also had at least one 10 card set.
Cards frequently featured the liners of the RSL, cruise locations or life on board ship. A considerable number were originally menu tops. Such cards often displayed an uneven or perforated lower edge or reduced height.