Some were unused, and some had been collected from various aunts or uncles who had sent them while travelling either locally around Britain, or 'sur le continent', for the more daring of English folk. Some briefly told a story of a trip, in the example of the S.S. Rajputana, a ship out of London and bound for the Indian subcontinent, which was sent by an aunt while the ship was docked in Marseilles. It must have been the height of adventure to be on such a voyage. Most cards congratulated the recipient on either passing exams, recovering from an injury, remembering an upcoming holiday or birthday and all of them mentioned the weather. This was England after all.
Some were clearly sent as reminders (of holidays, trips, upcoming birthdays) and some had been re-purposed (by the publishers) to be sent as birthday greetings cards.
A good deal of the collection featured English seaside type scenes but there were quite a few images of steam trains and ocean going liners, of the type that disappeared rapidly once Hitler's u-boats got a decent foothold in the Atlantic.
It got me thinking about the whole business of hand-coloured postcards and how, despite being wildly popular between 1900 and the 1940s, they died out almost entirely once colour film became commercially available after WWII into the fifties.
In the day, postcards were either regular photo prints with fields printed on the reverse for an address and correspondence, hand-tinted black-and-white pictures, sepia images, hand-tinted pen and ink drawings, or prints made from full colour paintings ready for posting anywhere in the world.
Hand-colouring these cards was at the time, a huge cottage industry employing hundreds, if not thousands, of artists who did piece work in their own homes.There were several ways to add colour to a photographic image: oils, watercolours and even chemical tinting.
|A classic sepia-toned photo postcard of Dunster Castle and its Yarn market - c. 1925|