Well, it’s no wonder that the minute the camera got invented, around the 1830’s or thereabouts, the nude gal made her appearance. And thus, in my opinion, the pin up girl was born! At first these Victorian nude “pin up” photos were called artist’s models, and they were sold mainly for that purpose. However it didn’t take long for the Victorian gentlemen to catch on, and there you have it, the vintage erotic is born.
I could say that pin up art had its beginnings much earlier, as artists have been depicting the idealized female nude in painting and sculpture for hundreds of years. That may be a matter of opinion.
However there is no doubt that the minute that camera came along these Victorian nude ladies were no longer ethereal goddesses and allegorical figures. They were contemporary women, quite often staring straight at the viewer, and wearing contemporary clothing and lingerie. This was very scandalous! Suddenly the viewer had this intimate keyhole glimpse at real scantily clad pin up girls!
The French began to exploit this new pinup photography idea very early on, and began to mass produce these vintage erotic nudes. They never were actually sent through the mail, however they were called postcards because of their convenient size. They were sold and collected in sets. As early as the civil war soldiers were caught with these risque pin up girl daguerreotypes.
In addition many Parisian prostitutes during this era would have the postcards made with images of themselves, and would use the postcards as advertisements for their services.
The heyday of the sexy art of the French postcard was approximately from 1900 through the 1920’s, and tourists from all over the world would return from France with these naughty souvenirs, this vintage pinup photography!