The first plain postcard appeared in Austria in 1869 and the following year some cards were issued in England.
The real growth of the picture postcard came in the 1890s when private companies broke the monopoly of the Post Office. A prolific card producer, ‘Tucks’, offered a prize of £1,000 in the ‘Picture Postcard Magazine’ to the person holding the largest collection of their postcards. Collecting postcards became the craze of the day and they were published on almost every subject imaginable.
A huge array of topographical cards were on offer and other series featured Royal events, fairs of national importance, accidents and disasters, sports, personalities and much else.
A dazzling quantity of greeting cards were made and many of these were actually designed to be sent from the United Kingdom to a specific country abroad.
The Boer War and later the Great War gave an added impetus to the postcard industry and the Daily Mail War Series sold in their millions.
Many card producers caricatured politicians and every card publisher of any size produced numerous humorous cards. Those cheeky seaside cards caused a lot of controversy and sometimes today some folk will frown and pull a face at them.
Of course postcard collecting is still a popular hobby for some people but by no means on that earlier scale.
Cards used to be considered extremely useful for sending messages of all kinds and sweethearts passed on promising or unpromising news depending on the position of the postage stamp.
People invented various schemes so that the postman could not read them. They were commonly used to order milk, groceries and newspapers.
Unlike at times nowadays the GPO was incredibly reliable.
They used to deliver as many as six times a day and cards posted to any destination in the United Kingdom could be guaranteed to be there within 24 hours!
And now you often get back off your holidays before your greeting cards!
Next week in Part 58 - Those Lovely Old Stone Walls.