As you might remember, after messing around with some post-it notes I wrote my dissertation on why old postcards are intriguing today. Here's an extract which gives a very big knuckle tap on the shoulder to the brilliant Postcard Friendship Friday, run each week by Beth in Oregon.
Thanks everyone for your support and, as you'll see below, special thanks to the PFF gang; your expertise was invaluable....
Two years ago I set up a website to explore the messages in my collection of postcards.
The site was adopted by a group called Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth Niquette in Oregon, Ohio. The group is typical of the 'super-niches' that the internet allows us to develop in some part of our lives.
Each week members post images of old cards they have found, explaining why the cards appeal and how they came across them. Tastes vary across the group, with each member specializing further within the category of postcards:
“Bob of Holland” specializes in vintage postcards of European film stars;
“Mr Cachet” a retired artist from Montana explores the history of the printed word; and
“Postcardy” a collector from Minnesota collects vintage comic postcards.
The collectors leave postcard-sized messages on the comment boards for others to read.
In June 2010 I wrote a post on a mesmerizing card sent to Miss L. Warden in London in 1904. Having taken scans of the ‘front’ and ‘back’, I presented a full anatomy of the card.
On the ‘front’ the sender had annotated the image of The Exchange buildings in Liverpool, at the time a centre for trade in the city. He (or she?) used various signs and a key to direct the way the reader would approach the card: with a double-feathered arrow he showed where he worked and with a dotted cross highlighted “a broken down cotton speculator”.
On the ‘back’ he drew a map of Britain, outlining the route of his rail trip from London, adding a reference to Hastings which presumably meant something to Miss Warden.
The next day I checked the site’s comment board only to find my analysis had been exposed as incomplete. “Postcardy” and "Debs" had spotted a further detail which needed to be acknowledged in any deciphering of the card:
I could not believe I had missed this aspect of postcards. I looked through my collection and found twenty or thirty examples of cards where the King’s head had been placed on an angle, or even stuck upside down. In one example, besides the address there was only a tilted stamp on the card.
At the next fair, I found cards presenting a whole “Language of Stamps”.
Yet again, for all its apparent familiarity the Golden Age postcard had reasserted its status as an endlessly foreign object.