Postcard Collecting 

Wish you were here!

Postcard collecting has taken off over the past thirty years.  When I started collecting postcards in the 1960s it was possible to buy an Edwardian postcard album brimful of wonderful cards for a couple of pounds!  Those days have long gone!

Postcards started their life in the Victorian period.  On 1st October 1870 the General Post Office issued the first postcard and it was an immediate success.  At some Post Offices the crowds were so large that the police had to be called in to control them!  But the 1870 postcard was a dull affair.  No pictures were allowed.  It took another generation for the picture postcard to emerge and this country lagged far behind other European countries.  France and Germany were out in front.  Indeed when picture postcards took root in this country in the early years of the 20th century most of them were made in Germany.  

The liberalisation of the law, which allowed for pictures to be placed on postcards, was a great development.  But the postcard regulations still stated that no message must be placed on the address side of the postcard.  In January 1902 this regulation was eased, and the picture postcard took off.  It became a phenomenal success and hundreds of millions of cards were produced in the Edwardian period.  This was the golden age of the picture postcard and the majority of collectors today focus their attention on this period.  

The picture postcard was of great significance during the First World War.  The troops sent back silk postcards from the Front, and the Daily Mail and many others produced large series of postcards.  Indeed my interest in postcards was sparked off when my grandmother gave me her own collection, and typically her fiancée sent her numerous postcards from France during the war. 

During the early years a postcard could be sent for half the price of a letter.  It cost just a halfpenny to send a postcard.  But in 1918 the postcard rate was foolishly abolished and in many ways that put an end to the glory days of the postcard.  Of course, postcards continue to be produced and sent by the million, but they are a far more marginal part of our lives than they once were.  


The wonderful thing about postcards is that they depict everything – simply everything!  If your interest is in football, the village or town in which you live, fashion, umbrellas, hatpins, gorillas or Labradors there will be postcards for you.  No one knows how many collectors there are but there are probably hundreds of thousands of people with at least a few old postcards.  The serious postcard collector will make sure that they subscribe to the superbly illustrated Picture Postcard Monthly and will take advice from Picture Postcard Values 2009.  But the truth is that so many millions of postcards were produced that there is not, and will never be, a definitive catalogue


PAGE POSTCARDS can be found in Unit 7 of the Hungerford Arcade and has a wide and constantly replenished stock of picture postcards.  There are nearly 20,000 postcards on offer so you are bound to find something of interest!  There’s a section of subject postcards (including film stars, greetings cards, comic, shipping and social history), a wide range of foreign postcards and (my favourite!) a wonderful selection of UK views arranged by county.  If this is an entirely new world to you why not dip into the 50p section of postcards or even the 20p section of modern postcards.  Browsers are always welcome!  




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