Until about 25 years ago, opportunities to see California condors were few. The wild population was limited both in numbers and habitat. Not many zoos exhibited California condors and, during the middle decades of the 1900s, it seems no zoo anywhere had condors. By today’s standards, the available photographs and movies were of low quality.
As a consequence, most people who saw condors saw them in museums, as stuffed and mounted specimens in dioramas. The way to remember seeing these dioramas or to share the experience with someone who didn’t visit the museum was to purchase a postcard of the diorama from the museum gift shop.
Here are 6 such postcards.
The rarity of California condors is noted by 5 of the postcards. I particularly appreciate the first postcard above for showing an egg in a typical condor nest, along with 2 parents (there may also be an egg in the last postcard).
Unfortunately, none of these cards are dated.
It is difficult to imagine a time when these dioramas provided the best possible experience of California condors for most of the people who were curious about them. Today we have excellent photos and video of living condors. Condors are exhibited in several zoos. And, best of all, condors can be readily observed in national parks and elsewhere in their native habitat. We should not lose sight of the fact that these opportunities to know condors are all part of recent history, indeed, something that has occurred within my (middle-aged) adult life.