The Postcard

Everyone loves a postcard. Buying, sending, receiving, reading and collecting. First mocked as only fit for the illiterate and vulgar, eventually they were even used and collected by the Royal Family.

In 1869 Dr Hermann had his small, thin card, with address and stamp on one side and space for a message on the reverse, accepted for use by the Austrian Postal Authorities. The next year British and Swiss Postal Authorities followed their example.

The postcard was originally designed for business use; to confirm an order, for receipts and to act as reminders. In Europe, though, the message side also carried an illustration and these became increasingly colourful and elaborate. In 1894 publishers finally gained the right to print their own postcards.

The final design change came in 1904 when the European Postal Union accepted the ‘divided back’ version for the cards with the address on the right and the message space on the left. This freed the image side completely and is the format of the postcard we know and love today.

The excessive popularity of postcards continued until the outbreak of World War One, with up to six postal deliveries a day in Britain, making the cards an effective and well used method of communication. 1890-1910 is considered the Golden Era of the postcard and some postcards from that period can be very expensive today.

Like most collectors’ items, postcards are most sought after in mint condition and poor quality cards often make very little unless they are extremely rare.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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