This resplendent catalog lists over one thousand postcards, and illustrates many of them, from the peak tourist era of travel cruises to Spitsbergen, an island group north of Norway and above the Arctic Circle. The period of interest is from the 1890s up to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. This timeframe coincides with the golden age of picture postcards that were popular and inexpensive souvenirs and means for tourists to send greetings to family and friends.
Author Reilly adapted a catalog system similar to one used in a book about the postcards of the Falkland Islands. He classifies the cards in 91 separate Series presented chronologically based on the view side of the card. The publisher is identified as well as the artist or photographer where known. Also shown for each series are the style of lettering for captions and the method of printing or reproduction. Often there are also additional comments expanding on the description.
Each series is then broken down with a Numbering system based on the alphabetical titles on the cards, unless the publisher has used a serial numbering system. For each Number there is also a Type based on the printing style and layout of the address side of the card. The identification is specific even for minor differences in the position of the image or the caption. Different printings (first, second, etc.) are also classified.
Two appendices cover unusual cards. The first consists of homemade cards which are mostly based on photographs. The second is a description of the Paris Nordpolen card—a folding lettercard that was sold on some of the cruises. These cards are quite scarce.
Speaking of scarce or rare, no attempt is made to assign a rarity scale or values to the cards in this catalog. While there is no philatelic discussion of the cards, there are occasional illustrations of the address side showing stamps, cancels, and cachets, but without explanation. The illustrations are in color as issued although the majority are in sepia.
The author provides an important tool for collectors that enables them to quickly find and identify a postcard. This is an alphabetical list of the title or caption found on the card, with cross reference to the series, number, and type. A good bibliography refers readers to other sources for more information.
The use of a sans-serif typeface is a little disconcerting. However the information and illustrations provide a detailed description and knowledge of these wonderful artifacts that have long been of interest to collectors. Furthermore the printing and production data are just what an exhibitor needs for a proper display of picture postcards, now that they are being accepted in the philatelic arena.