Brian’s Blog

  • These two postcards really are a bit of magic, the Edwardian era’s photoshop. The Rotary Photographic Co., market leaders in the production of postcards of Royalty and celebrities, showed a touch of creativity in designing many of their cards, in particular taking individual portraits and montaging them in a printing blender to create an impressive panorama. On the two featured today, each person appears on a postcard of their own in the company’s range, but they have been woven together to create an image of a large gathering – which never happened! Edward VII sits centre stage on both postcards. …read more

  • It’s difficult to imagine what it was like when picture postcards exploded in production round about 1903. Although the first pictorial cards began to be published commercially in 1894, it took another eight or nine years before their presence on the High Street began to make itself felt. For sure, postcard were available for most towns, cities and seaside resorts by the turn of the 20th century, but the most enthusiastic buyers were visitors from overseas, and with the exception of Valentine of Dundee, most postcards came from local firms without a strong nationwide reach. ETW Dennis of Scarborough were …read more

  • For a couple of decades at the start of the 20th century, picture postcards reigned supreme in the seasonal greetings market. Costing just one halfpenny to post compared with double that for a folded greetings card, postcards soon eclipsed that market. And what a wealth of subjects appeared on Edwardian Christmas postcards! Images of holly berries, robins, snow scenes and seasonal characters were produced by the million. Favourite with collectors now are cards featuring Santa Claus, especially those designed on the hold to light principle, where cut-outs of the top layer of cardboard produced a magic brightness in parts of …read more

  • It is often said that every conceivable subject has appeared on picture postcards, but sometimes it is quite astonishing just how many different cards on a particular theme can actually be found. I found that to be true when I went looking for postcards of guitars. What a range I discovered, from old real photographic cards of people playing the instrument in various locations (outdoor singing picnics seemed particularly popular in Germany), to street musicians, actresses identifying themselves with playing a guitar, romantic artist-drawn cards featuring people or dressed animals, and comic cards of children. Post-1945, cards can be found …read more

  • I’m prone to misquote Dr. Johnson in saying “He who is tired of postcards is tired of life” (actually he said London). Samuel Johnson (who has statues to him in Lichfield and London) found the capital endlessly fascinating, and liked nothing better than to wander round exploring it. I feel there’s much the same satisfaction in postcards, which themselves reflect the whole of life. Pictures, messages, publishers, artists, postmarks, senders and recipients all provide a stimulus for exploring the background to each postcard, whether that’s a 1960s view of Butlins, a World War One soldiers’ postcard, or an Edwardian view …read more

  • I’m talking statues today. On postcards, obviously. Those edifices that we walk past all the time (well, in normal times, anyway) without giving much of a thought to who they  represent. Most are pretty old, anyway. The Victorians loved erecting thes tributes to local heroes, but sometimes they become an embarrassment to generations that follow. Edward Colston, who made his fortune from the slave trade, was accorded a statue because he was a local benefactor, funding all kinds of public buildings and works from the money he made. Now he’s been unceremoniously dumped after years of campaigning for his statue …read more

  • Do you send Easter cards? I never have until this year when I sent two Edwardian postcards with current first class stamps on to family. And that compares with maybe a couple of hundred Christmas cards. Plenty of Easter greetings folded cards are on sale in the shops, as the religious festival has been added to all the others commemorated by greetings cards manufacturers. Do people who buy them do so because it’s a religious festival or just another chance to contact a friend? Or is it basically just a retail opportunity? At the start of the 20th century, though, …read more

  • John Claydon’s Confessions of a collector part 4   Discovering postcard Art Nouveau (or Mucha do about nothing)   To mark the 100th anniversary of the first UK postcard in 1870, the V&A held a ground-breaking exhibition.  It turned out to be the critical motivating factor which led to the revival of postcard collecting as a major hobby.  Of course the first British picture postcard did not see the light of day till 1894, and was superbly celebrated with the famous show in the Royal Agricultural Halls in Westminster a century later, but the V&A exhibition did include many picture …read more

  • April 6th 2020   John Claydon’s ‘Confessions of a collector’ part 3     While I was studying history at school and then university in the late 60s and early 70s, the second great age of postcard collecting had not quite established itself.  I acquired cards whenever I could, with the great benefit that I was not choosy about what came my way.  A friend sent back cards from all over distant lands during a round-the-world trip in the days long before most students went travelling, a holiday employer passed on more First World War cards, and a steady stream …read more

  • April 2nd 2020 Confessions of a collector with John Claydon One of the contributions I used particularly to enjoy in PPM a few years ago was Michael Goldsmith’s diary of his experiences as a dealer. Most of us collectors come to savour the hunt for postcards almost as much as the postcards themselves, and so it was lots of fun to relive his experiences with him. And of course there were snippets of information, ideas and tips to be picked up along the way. I loved the adventures he described of going to examine a hoard of postcards or being …read more