Quite a few of the historically-minded folks in Boulder know I’m researching Joe. One day I get an email forwarded to me from one of the gals at the Boulder History Museum. The email is originally from a gentleman in Oregon trying to find out more about a painted wooden postcard with “Rocky Mountain Joe” painted on the back. As a collector he was intrigued to know more about this guy Joe.
This painted wooden postcard did not immediately compute! He made photos for tourists, not postcards! But as soon as I saw the painting style and handwriting on the back I was pretty much sold. The week or so before I had looked at some of Joe’s oil paintings and it felt familiar. (Watch for an upcoming post about the paintings!) I have also examined many of his illustrations with lettering and the word “Post Card” looked right. Though the smudged lettering and pencil lines makes me wonder how complete this product was. While I cannot definitively say that, yes, this is one of Joe’s cards, I have a sneaking suspicion it really is.
The mountain in the painting is the Mount of the Holy Cross in the Sawatch Range, Eagle County, Colorado. Famed nineteenth-century photographer William Henry Jackson was the first to photograph the elusive snowy cross and provide proof of its existence in 1873.
There is no way of knowing if Joe sketched this card on site, but I have a feeling he painted it from another source, such as a print or photograph, rather than taking the long treck to the Western Slope.
This postcard provides another interesting insight into Joe’s business activities. In addition to selling tourists photographic views of the Rocky Mountains and of Boulder County, it appears he also provided the quintessential tourist medium…the postcard.