Publisher: Zan


Photographer and postcard publisher Alexander J. "Zan" Stark (1889-1967) moved to San Francisco ca. 1914 (Xan Stark, Alta Studios, 1271 Mission) and then to Mill Valley in the mid-1920s (Zan of Tamalpais, 324 Miller Avenue). He produced thousands of postcards from the early 1930s through the early 1950s, primarily b+w real photo postcards (RPPCs). Zan photographed extensively throughout northern California and beyond. Online Archive of California gives a brief biography and references the Stark collection at Stanford (over 3000 items, but no online items as of 10/2020). A article by Frank Sternad discusses Zan and his work in detail.

My postcard collection focuses on cards from 1915 and before, so it includes only a few Zan cards (shown below). But I see a lot of Zan's cards when I browse postcard sites, and I invariably admire his work. He has a wonderful eye and his postcards have a very distinctive look: b+w, caption in script in one corner, "Zan" and stock number in opposite corner, vanilla RPPC back with no information.

zan_281.png zan_409.png zan_1115.png zan_287.png
zan_281_b.png zan_409_b.png zan_1115_b.png zan_287_b.png

Left: Zan 281. Next: Zan 409, postmarked Sonoma 1/05/1942. Next: Zan 1115. Right: Zan 287. All are borderless.

zan_258.png zan_839.png zan_812.png longshaw_04.png
zan_258_b.png zan_839_b.png zan_812_b.png longshaw_04_b.png

Left: Zan 258. Sternad says this card shows Zan Stark and his daughter. Next: Zan 839. Next: Zan 812; note that the Bay Bridge deck is unfinished. White borders. Obviously the 839 image must predate 812, implying that Zan's stock numbers are not precisely chronological. Right: Longshaw 4 (postmarked SF 12/09/1949), photo by Zan 1938 (uncredited); same image as Zan 1155 (b+w).

Steve's SF postcard pages: