History of Postcards: Something to Appreciate and Be Amazed By!


Oct 27, 2013 Europe/London

Postcards introduced in Austria during the year 1870 were just plain in nature. These were illustrative in nature and for the purpose of advertising, originally sold with pre-printed stamps, however their popularity and use were very limited then.

It was in the year 1894 when postcards portraying certain pictures became known, but those were not easily accepted. These postcards were mostly images of city and seaside wonders, while themes and subjects were not common earlier on.

As people began to appreciate the use of postcards in their mails, Great Britain was considered slow to adapt to the trend, when compared with neighboring countries. It took the British Postal Service more than 24 years after the introduction of postcards until Britain’s post office took the step towards the private publication of postcards to be mailed with adhesive stamps.

In the year 1902, postcards evolved into subject cards that featured images, such as royal events and the War at Boer. It was also during that year that the Great Britain Postal Service allocated the use of the back part of the card to contain both address and messages. England was also the first to introduce the division of the back part of the postcard, a format that is in existence in postcards even today. The size of the postcard also became a standard.

As the use of postcards became very popular, particularly by tourists, it became a medium for sending messages which are brief in nature. Being so reliable and cheap, many people became great users of these cards to keep their travels known to friends and family. It further became a souvenir of their journeys making this particular piece as a part of their collectibles, thus the golden era of postcard was recorded.

As the craze in the 1900 soared higher, many publishers began to maximize their production as well as initiate measures to make their cards more appealing. Thus the production of every conceivable subject was printed. There was even a magazine that has these postcards as part of their publication. Copies of postcards went through the postal services week after week with most of these ending up in someone’s album, only to be discovered in some collector’s pieces towards the middle of the twentieth century.

The  first printed picture postcardDuring World War I, postcards evolved to contain different subjects, and since there were publishers that were affected by the war, picture postcards decreased in popularity. The growing use of the telephone also adversly affected the popularity of the use of postcards.

It was only in the 1970’s that this communication medium surfaced again regaining in intensity and popularity but more as an art feature or advertising item. Presently, postcards have evolved in their use in cafes and bars, street shops, as well as in most entertainment sites. Moreover, since the 1950's, there has been a growing demand for old postcards by collectors, particularly those that were more than 100 years old, as reflected in North America, Australia, Asia and more so in the Western part of Europe where it all started.