Well, we all love a bit of social media, it’s the perfect vehicle to share our news, interests or knowledge with our friends in a quick and easy way. But how did people satisfy this need in Edwardian times?
You need look no further than the humble postcard! Big enough to write a quick message, accompanied with an image, delivered in no time – perfect.
Time is of the essence – So how long did they take?
So it’s hard to compete with the immediacy of social media but back in Edwardian times the postal system didn’t have the tardy reputation it has today. Back in the early 1900s there were multiple daily collections and deliveries – up to 12 a day in major cities! This made postcards ideal for sending urgent messages to make arrangements, etc.
Why a postcard not a letter? Size is everything
A bit like Twitter, postcards were (and still are) the ideal size for a short message, handy for penning arrangements, or reporting back from your holiday or new home. For many a letter can daunting, no limit to how long, just a long sheet of glaring, blank paper to fill… with a postcard there is no such problem – an excuse to keep it short.
What made them special?
Then of course there are the images. The success of Instagram and Pinterest show just how important the visual world around us is to us. Similarly, each postcard comes with a picture – perhaps a scenic view to make the recipient wish they were there, a cartoon that makes you laugh out loud or a way of sharing an interest. These images are also what often what made and still make them so collectible.
Why are they still popular today?
In a way not unlike social media platforms where you can save or like posts to view again. Postcards have remained popular with collectors since the time they were first introduced. The images are definitely part of the draw – often they really conjure up another time especially those featuring passers-by in period costume, vintage vehicles like omnibuses and trams and shopfronts with their evocative signage.
Furthermore the stamps have a vast collector audience of their own, not to mention the postmarks. Then there is the historical context of the messages that make them really bring the past to life. Some postcards have the much sought-after combination of all these factors to make them the ultimate valuable collectors’ items. The most expensive postcard ever sold at auction is the oldest in existence. It sold in 2002 for £31,758.75 at the London Stamp Exchange Auction.
So, I think it is fair to say that Edwardian postcards were the social media or emails of their day and one could argue are more valuable for their longevity and collectability. If you would like to read more about the history of postcards, have a look at my postcard pointers page for a variety of vintage postcard resources.
Please browse my selection of Edwardian Postcards and see if you find a favourite.
or browse popular postcard locations…