The Puzzle Of The Picture Postcard

Dec 16, 2015, 12:38 PM

“It was rather like the telephone we use today, you could send an almost instant message.”

The postcard: a simple device to show your loved ones all the glamorous places you’ve visited. Filled with messages of ‘Wish You Were Here’, they are a freeze frame of another far away exotic place. For family members, they are memories. For collectors, they are snapshots into the past. For some, they are a way of sprucing up your otherwise dreary office desk.

Steve Kentfield is a postcard trader under the guise East London Postcard, and every few months he visits the ETC Fair, to sell and trade vintage postcards from across the world to other like minded collectors.

Meanwhile the National Library of Wales has a collection of over 20,000, used to document the changing face of the country. The Photographer’s Gallery recently held an exhibition on John Hinde, the most prominent postcard photographer in the 1950s and 60s. Sarah Salway is a poet and writer that uses postcards as a platform for her poetry, and Tony Bryant is a collector of over 50 years.

During the Golden Age of postcards between 1905 and 1915, about 750 million postcards were sent in Britain each year, a staggering 2 million a day. In 2005, the Royal Mail estimated 134 million postcards were sent in the UK during the summer months, an increase of 30 million over three years. The vintage postcard attracts people from all walks of life, either interested in the social history they showcase, or the messages on the back.

But in a world that is increasingly online, will people collect and send them forever? Producer: George McDonagh