President Pre-Print Photos
I was thinking about how U.S. Presidents usually send out 8x10s upon request with a printed signature(s). I was thinking how one might collect a series of Official White House pre-print photos. They are kind of nice and one could easily make a display of every President since these started being sent out. I was thinking about it and wondering a few things:
Who was the earliest President known to send the typical pre-print photo? I have seen Dwight D. Eisenhower ones — but sometimes the same photo had an authentic signature instead of the printed version — same for Kennedy. I recently read somewhere that the Kennedy White House ordered pre-printed cards but also ordered 400 blank ones that would get an authentic autograph, so that explains how same photo can have authentic but also printed version. I think after Kennedy though the authentic photos were usually on real photo paper (although I have seen autopen versions on same types of photos) and pre-prints on the thin poster-card like paper.
I would LOVE to see photos of the different typical pre-print photos sent out by Presidents. I know some only had one or two photos whereas others expanded and had a wider variety (for example Bush had ones with his family including pets, one of just him and Laura, another of him with Cheney, and a few different of just Bush himself - 1st term official portrait, 2nd term, one of him boarding Air Force One etc.). I have tried eBay just to see but surprisingly they sell mostly unofficial pre-prints so it’s hard to weed through all that to find the few White House issued ones. Some President pre-prints seem more available to find than others (George W. Bush, and earlier seem easy to find but Obama and after I can’t find any BUT I know they exist. I have seen one Trump one a collector got ttm so I know he sent them but not sure if Biden has yet — would love to see one).
Related but not really what I am after are White House Christmas Cards. I know these were sent every year from at least Truman onwards. Some of the early ones had real autographs.
Another curious thing - sometimes one gets just preprint letter and other times just the preprint photo and sometimes both. Does one have to specifically request photo to get it or does that just happen with a response to a simple letter to the President? I know in my experience I only got preprint photos from Clinton and Bush but they were specifically requested. When writing Obama I only got pre-print letters maybe because I never asked for a photo. I have never gotten anything from Trump or Biden, except the IRS stimulus letters. Have pre-prints and White House correspondence gone down significantly since George W. Bush left office? I remember every SINGLE time I sent anything to Bush I always got a response. That was no longer true for Obama (but he did respond to at least half of my letters in some form) and never anything from Trump or Biden from letters I sent. Has anyone else experienced this?
The first time I ever write anyone famous a letter was to President Clinton in 1998. I remember thinking he would probably never respond since he was the President and got millions of letters but figured I would try. I was shocked when a few months later I got a letter from the White House! Inside was a White House card with preprinted Clinton signature and two small 3x4 photos of Clinton with small preprinted signature under photo in lower border with biographical information on the back. I kept these for about twenty years then when I was doing a big clean out got rid of them because I only wanted to keep real autographs. I regret that now and wish I kept at least this FIRST ever response I got from a letter I wrote to someone famous.