The Europeans had discovered the postcard in Austria in 1869 and Britain had the following year.
It wasn't until 1894 that Royal Mail gave publishers permission to sell and send picture postcards through the post with just a stamp. The British postcard then took off and became a quick and simple means of sending a message or greeting to someone. Their huge popularity continued until around 1920.
It was in 1902 that Britain first introduced the idea of splitting the reverse between the message and the address, so that the picture could be shown in full on the front. Prior to that the message had been on one side and the address on the other.
Up until WW1 the postcard was generally used as a means of communication, much like a text is today, but after then the telephone became more widely available. It is difficult to imagine today, but in those days there were up to seven deliveries each day. Millions of postcards were posted every week !
After the War, the postcard became a means of showing friends and family where the sender had traveled or gone on holiday. People collected them as cheap souvenirs both to send to friends and to keep for themselves ..... similar to taking a photo today and sending it to friends on your i-phone in order to show them where you are.
Collections now exist which are interesting to the genealogist showing how a particular place has developed, how the fashions changed and how modes of transport have got faster.
It occurs to me that now everyone is posting more and more about their holidays and trips on social media, that the days of the postcard being used to communicate with friends and relatives is dying, because :
- Photos are postcard quality so why would you buy a postcard and spend money on a stamp which probably costs more than the postcard ?
- By not writing a dozen postcards it saves the sender an hour of time they could use doing something more productive.
- Postcards usually arrive after the sender has returned home from their holiday and you have spoken to the person you sent it to.
However, having taken a sample of my friends views, there still seems to be a place for sending postcards in the post :
- to those who aren't using social media.
- to parents.
- just because people just like receiving a postcard in the post to stick up in their kitchens etc.