Tag Archives: postcard collection

How to collect postcards

Ever wanted to collect postcards? Terry Kirkman, Hon. Secretary of the Ferndown and West Moors Philatelic & Postcard Club, offers his advice…

The introduction of picture postcards (1894 in Britain) suddenly allowed people to send a picture of their home town, holiday destination or local event, and must have been an exciting development, so it’s not surprising that people wanted to keep a collection of postcards from the outset.

Postcard showing Manchester Messengers football team. The team played against Sheffield Messengers in an annual inter-office match on 19th October 1913, winning 2-1.

Postcard showing Manchester Messengers football team. The team played against Sheffield Messengers in an annual inter-office match on 19th October 1913, winning 2-1.

What to collect can be divided roughly into two categories:

Subject Cards – such as animals, children, comics, exhibitions, glamour, greetings, military, railways, royalty, shipping, sport, theatre and entertainment. However, collectors seem to be thinking up new topics all the time. There’s nothing to stop you looking for and putting together a collection of postcards showing anything from aeroplanes to zoos, boating lakes to yacht racing.

Coloured picture postcard of General Post Office Birmingham. Cancelled 11th February 1909 in Birmingham.

Coloured picture postcard of General Post Office Birmingham. Cancelled 11th February 1909 in Birmingham.

Topographic Cards – views of places, buildings and events. These fall into two broad categories:

  1. Real photographic types – generally the most valuable. Those produced by small local publishers are scarcer and more expensive than the ones produced in greater numbers by national publishers, such as Valentines, Judges and Walter Scott. They are usually glossy in appearance and black/white or sepia/white (colour cards are normally printed).
  2. Printed types: Mass produced copies from a photographic original. These are usually matt in appearance, the image isn’t sharp, and they are more common.

For town views, the more ‘animated’, with people and vehicles and interesting things going on, the better. If the view is a tourist or seaside spot, it is likely to be common.

Age of Cards
Non collectors instinctively assume that older means rare, but postcard production and sending, reaching its peak during the ‘Golden Age’ of postcards (approx 1902-14), and a collector may find it relatively easy to find cards from that era. Many topographical collectors want to collect ‘All Periods’ so that they can follow changes, as a town has developed, right up to the present.

Postcards of Bournemouth through the ages

by Terry Kirkman, Hon. Secretary, Ferndown and West Moors Philatelic & Postcard Club

With the support of the Bournemouth Library we at the Ferndown and West Moors Philatelic & Postcard Club are putting on a changing display of stamps and postcards from Monday 15th March to Saturday 10th April 2010 in the exhibition area of the Bournemouth Central Library.

One of the postcards to be on display: Bournemouth from the Pier

One of the postcards to be on display: Bournemouth from the Pier

The display has two aims which will promote both types of collecting activities carried out by our club members. A philatelic display will publicise and promote the London 2010: Festival of Stamps national programme, whilst a postcard display of Bournemouth through the ages will celebrate the Bournemouth Bicentenary year activities. We are also inviting other philatelic societies in the region to submit displays which will help to promote their own societies.

On the opening day the Mayor of Bournemouth Mrs. Beryl Baxter and her consort, Mr. William Baxter, have kindly accepted our invitation to attend and declare the exhibition open for viewing.

Another of the postcards which will be on display: Bournemouth - Stream in Gardens

Another of the postcards which will be on display: Bournemouth - Stream in Gardens

At the exhibition we will be handing out promotional material for London 2010: Festival of Stamps as well as a short article on collecting postcards designed for the general public as an introduction to the hobby.

For more on philatelic activities in the Bournemouth area visit http://www.philatelyinbournemouth.co.uk/

Seaside Postcards

Pull-out postcard from Cromer, 1921

Postcard from Cromer, 1921

The Picture Postcard Show 2009, or BIPEX (British International Postcard Exhibition) takes place in London later this week, and includes a special exhibition of Seaside postcards.

Holidays at the seaside became affordable and popular during the Victorian era thanks to the expanding railway network. For the first time resort towns such as Brighton and Blackpool were within reach of ordinary families, and alongside the obligatory purchase of a stick of rock, many postcards were bought and sent to family and friends back home.

Pull-out postcard from Cromer, with a concertina of mini photographs, 1921

Pull-out postcard from Cromer, with a concertina of mini photographs, 1921

Postcards were invented in Austria in 1869 and quickly became popular. A year later they were issued in Britain by the Post Office, but many people were opposed to the use of postcards. They felt that it would be too easy to read other people’s correspondence, that the art of letter writing would decrease, and that it promoted loose morals. However, postcards were an extremely easy and fast method of communication and were taken up by businesses. In the first year of use the number of postcards sent was 75 million.

Although early postcards sometimes had little black and white designs on them, the full picture postcard arrived in 1889 for the Paris Exhibition, where a souvenir card was on sale of the Eiffel Tower. The idea developed quickly on the continent, but not in Britain where strict regulations meant that privately printed postcards were not allowed.

Many felt that the Post Office was creating a monopoly by including the price of the stamp in the price of the card and in 1894 the printing of private cards was allowed. This meant that picture postcards of a standard size were now available to be sold throughout the British Isles.

Many novelty cards were developed, such as the pull-out. These usually had a concertina of mini photographic views of towns or places hidden inside a postman’s mail bag or in a pillar box. The example from our collection on the left and was sent on 3rd August 1921 from the seaside town of Cromer.

The village Post Office was a common sight on postcards. Perhaps the popularity of depicting the Post Office on a postcard was to show where the postcard itself had been posted, especially if it was a quaint little Post Office like that in the Cornish seaside village of Tintagel.

Postcard showing Old Post Office, Tintagel, circa 1910

Postcard showing Old Post Office, Tintagel, circa 1910

Postcards were also an excellent way to share a joke. Humourous or comic postcards became very popular after the Great War, partly because they were so colourful. The jokes on the cards could often be quite risqué, with partial nudity and double entendres commonplace. These are now very collectable.

Postcards, particularly those of the saucy variety, are intrinsically linked with the British seaside holiday and so it is perhaps no surprise that five seaside postcard cartoons were used on Royal Mail’s 1994 stamps celebrating 100 years of the picture postcard.

Centenary of Picture Postcards stamps, 1994

Centenary of Picture Postcards stamps, 1994

Midpex 09

by Jennifer Flippance, London 2010 Project Officer

Last Saturday I went to Midpex 09, a two-yearly stamp show, held just outside Coventry. Midpex is one of the largest UK stamp shows and attracts 600 visitors and 50 stamp dealers.

One of the things that makes Midpex different to many other shows is the large number of specialist societies represented (40 this year) for whom the show acts as a place to meet fellow enthusiasts, showcase their activities and recruit new members.

One of the Polar Explorers stamps from 1972, featuring Robert Falcon Scott.

One of the Polar Explorers stamps from 1972, featuring Robert Falcon Scott.

Whatever your collecting interest there will be a society where you can meet like minded people, share your interests and learn. Some of those present at Midpex included: the Aden and Somaliland Study Group; the Cinderella Stamp Club; the Forces Postal History Society; the Pacific Islands Study Circle; and the Polar Postal History Society of Great Britain.

As I waited for the shuttle bus to collect me from a rather rain-drenched Canley rail station, I took the opportunity to talk to some collectors about their involvement in philately and what brings them to Midpex.

Eric was stationed in Gibraltar with the RAF and this led to an interest in the stamps of the island later in life. He had collected as a child and then returned to philately about 30 years ago when he joined the Gibraltar Study Circle. He now has a very respectable collection of material from Gibraltar, is active in a number of societies and exhibits competitively at a national level. He will be entering one of the classes at the London 2010 International Stamp Exhibition.

Eric now sources most new acquisitions for his Gibraltar collection from specialist auctions so at Midpex he was on the look out for material for his secondary collecting interests of Madeira and the Ionian Islands. He attends about half a dozen stamp shows a year.

Similarly to Eric, David collects stamps from an area he has a strong connection to – the Isle of Man. He has been visiting since 1934. He has many friends there and his parents retired to, and were later buried, on the island.

Not so much a Snaefell cachet, more a stamp which may have been cancelled by one: John Nicholsons regional definitive for the Isle of Man, 1958.

Not so much a Snaefell cachet, more a stamp which may have been cancelled by one: John Nicholson's regional definitive for the Isle of Man, 1958.

David’s collecting passion is the Snaefell Summit cachets. Snaefell is the only mountain on the Isle of Man and has been a popular tourist destination since the mountain railway opened in 1895. Letters and souvenir postcards can be posted on the summit during the summer months. Since 1904, these have been marked by a special diamond-shaped hand-stamp. His ambition is to collect an example of every cachet issued and he is already a good way there. Considered to be one of the world’s two foremost experts on the cachets, David gives talks on the subject to societies. He visits each Midpex and always attends the London International Stamp Exhibitions that take place every ten years.

And in case you’re wondering why so many stamp shows end with ‘PEX’, it’s a shortening of ‘Philatelic EXhibition’.

BPMA library catalogue goes online

Yesterday we uploaded the catalogue of our library collection to our online catalogue for the first time. The library, housed in our Archive Search Room, has a fascinating array of around 3,260 books, journals and pamphlets about postal history and the history of Royal Mail, covering a period from the 18th century to the present day.

There are thirteen main sections to the library – General Postal History, Transport, Technology, Military History, Industrial Relations, Journals, Local Postal History, Philately, Biographies, General Historical Reference, Savings Banks, Art and Design, and Fiction.

The Penny Black Anniversary Book - 1840-1990

The Penny Black Anniversary Book - 1840-1990

The oldest book that has been recorded in the library is John Watson’s Gentleman and Citizen Almanac, which is part of the transport section.

Other fascinating items in the library include The Penny Black Anniversary Book, celebrating the Penny Black’s 150th anniversary and charting other famous stamps such as the ‘Seahorses’ Collection, and two books on saucy seaside postcards by comedian Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Barker’s Book of Bathing Beauties and Ronnie Barker’s Book of Boudoir Beauties. Barker, who died in 2005, began collecting postcards in the 1950s and ended his life with a collection of around 40,000. Many of his postcards featured saucy puns and these are said to have inspired some of his comedy.

A complete list of the publications in the BPMA’s library collection can be viewed by clicking here. To find out about accessing items in the library collection please read the Visit the Archive section on our website.