The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Picture Postcards

There was a time when most towns in Britain had three deliveries of post a day, including one in the evening, and there weas even a delivery on sunday. This was from about 1900 until the war. The system was so good that courting couples could arrange an evening outing together via postcard at the start of the day. The evidence sometimes survives to this day thanks to the craze for having postcard albums. In truth, postcards became used, for a while, in the same way as we use text meaages today, and they weren't too far off the same level of usefulness either.

Most postcards date from this era. However, the first picture postcards were printed in France in the 1870s. Until 1899 they were 'court size' 115 mm x 89 mm, and afterwards they became the international standard 140 mm x 89 mm. However it was not unitl 1902 that the address and message were allowed on the same side, thereby leaving the other side free for the photograph or picture. Before then, you will often see writing over the actual photograph itself.

The years from 1900 until 1920 were the golden age of the picture postcard and most of our collection dates from this period. Every shop had its racks of postcards. Several shops in Cavendish sold them for the crowds of 'trippers' that arrived in the summer months. Then, in February 1918, the postage rate doubled to a penny. and there were further increases not long afterwards. After then, the habit of sending and collecting picture postcards began to tail off

Postcards are still being produced, but not with the same coverage as enjoyed by the Edwardians. Almost every house in the area is captured in a photograph somewhere. Even the newly-built council-houses were the subject of a postcard. The more picturesque houses in the area had several views taken over the years. One of the more prolific poscard producers, Osborne, travelled the area on a bicycle which he always seems to manage to get into the photograph. It seems to have been his 'signature' and it is amusing to look for it. Another photographer believed in having lots of people in his photographs and always encouraged them to pose by sprinkling coins around. I'm told, by more assiduious historians than I, that in many cases the people posing proudly outside their houses were, in fact, often just casual passers-by.

Fortunately, in Cavendish, the tradition of locally-produced picture postcards still exists, and these can, and should, be purchased at the Cavendish Post Office


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