Posted by Jenn Thorson at 6:08 AM Labels: ephemera, golden age of postcards, victorian postcards, victoriana, vintage postcards
The tradition of sending postcards began in the Victorian era-- and it wasn’t just a way of saying “Wish You Were Here” while sunning yourself on some sandy beach. No, in fact, they functioned pretty much like a cross between today’s greeting cards and text messaging.
There were no telephones, so rather than spend time trying to get across town-- or across the country-- to visit someone and share day-to-day information, postcards served as a quick way of sending news. Especially since in many places the mail came multiple times a day
But postcards also functioned as the formal way of sending well wishes for particular holidays. Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and, yes, New Year’s were all occasions which merited a postcard. Postcards were also used to send a potential sweetheart encouragement, such as official permission to visit. Or to enquire if a particular person was the one he or she had met at some social gathering. Postcards were the polite and accepted way of saying much of what the Victorians wanted to share.
Initially, Victorian postcards were paper cards rimmed in fabric fringe. But over time, the fringe was left off in favor of the more streamlined postcards we know today.
The wonderful thing about postcards from the Victorian and Edwardian eras are the elaborate designs, the gold or silver leafing and the insights they provide into the thinking of the time. Plus, scanned images of these cards can be used for a variety of decoupage crafting projects-- or even for simply sending your own quaint greetings.
In terms of collecting, postcards can be quite reasonable in cost-- anywhere from $0.50 to $5.00 depending on rarity and condition. And because they take up such little space, they’re easy to store in an archival quality album.
Largely, they’re available at flea markets and antique shops, but I recently found two at a thrift store, so it never hurts to keep your eyes peeled.
Sending all of you well wishes for a postcard perfect New Year of your own,