At a time where the mailbox seems to full of advertising and bills, who doesn’t delight in getting a postcard from a friend or relative who has been traveling even if they arrived back home weeks previously?

The origin of the official postcard dates back to 1867, when the Austrian government issued a card meant to be used as stationary which required postage. There had been earlier unofficial cards like the one Theodore Hook sent to himself in 1840 with a caricature of postal workers he drew on it (the first mail art project?) but once the Austrians issued theirs, other European countries started as well, with Canada getting on the bandwagon in 1871 as the first non-European country to do so. At the time, postcards were considered an inexpensive and quick way to send a message. These messages tended to be a bit bland (weather’s great, wish you were here kind of thing) probably because they can be seen by anyone, sort of like Facebook posts.

Picture postcards came a little bit later with the kind we usually think of as postcards (picture on one side with room on the reverse for both a message and an address) being introduced just after the turn of the last century. Innovations in photographic printing really helped the postcard business and by the early years of the 20th century, billions were posted annually. Now that photography is no longer a novelty, I find when I am looking for a postcard to send, l like to seek out postcards that feature local art rather than idealized scenes.

I have a small collection of postcards, although I wouldn’t call myself a deltiologist. Here are some of the more interesting:

  1. A postcard to my mother as a child from her uncle who was stationed in Malaysia during the Second World War. This would have been sent before he was captured as a prisoner of war.

Malay boys_135502 20170813_125740

2. A postcard bought by my mother on an outing with friends where, rather than send it to anyone, she got all her friends to sign it. 

outing outing reverse

3. A postcard to my stepmother from a friend who visited the USSR during the 1970s. An unusual travel destination for the time. 

Moscow_135658 20170729_135718

I have some blank postcards myself so as a thank you to my readers, I will send one to anyone who leaves a comment. To keep your mailing address private, please send it separately to mingibergsson[at]gmail[dot]com (you can trust me, honestly, I have no other use for your personal address).

If a postcard was a person, they would be a little old-fashioned (a bit square so to speak) and while they love to travel, their thoughts are never far from those they love back home.


4 thoughts on “Postcards

  1. Neil Lazaruk says:

    I love and have postcards of local attractions which have changed drastically over the decades. Postcards bought but never sent to anyone. I didn’t buy them but am glad I have them in my possession. One of these attractions was the Storyland Valley Zoo in Edmonton. Another format offered for sharing of memorabilia were slides of whatever park one was visiting. These were encased in a long strip of cellophane so one could see all the scenes. I have old (faded) slides of Expo 67 when my grandparents had visited, and some from American parks. Thanks for the memories!


  2. Anonymous says:

    I have a postcard from our dad when I was studying french in Chicoutimi in 1980. This was just after the first referendum and the separatists were thriving in the Lac St Jean region. After the usual greetings he wrote in bold letters ‘VIVE LE QUÉBEC LIBRE’ sheesh ! I did get the postcard though !


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