In our rush to study the images on old picture postcards, the messages on the back often get overlooked. This is a shame because they provide an insight into social history – the social mores of the day and a tantalising glimpse into lives long gone.
Postcard collecting had its heyday between 1890-1920. The years before WW1 were considered to be the Golden Age of postcards, before telephones were widely used. In 1902 Britain was the first country to divide the back of the postcard thus allowing the address and the message on the back and a complete picture on the front. The efficiency of the postal service was notable, borne out by some of the messages on the back such as “meet me off the 5.30pm train tomorrow” and “ask Mother to buy bread”.
Greetings were much more formal, no “text speak” or abbreviations here! LOL. One exception being “P.C.” – for postcard obviously, not personal computer or politically correct. One constant element was, of course, the weather!
Here are some of the messages:
To Wylde Green, Nr Birmingham from c/o Miss Cotton, 7, Sussex Street . Sent September 1917.
“Dear D. Having a glorious time. Have had an Express letter from Teddy, he goes to France on Tuesday. Have clicked with some Officers here. Write me a letter if you have time. Love Lily.”
To Honley, Nr. Huddersfield. Sent July 23rd 1907.
“Dear Mother, I received the under bodice and Emily is very very pleased with it. I am pleased to say that I am better and ready to come home, Yours, M. E. Green”
To Blaby, Nr Leicester. Sent August 1934.
“Dear Nora, Just a P.C. to let you know that we are having a good time. We have been watching the kiddies cycling this afternoon. It was raining hard nearly all night, but it has cleared up wonderfully well. Tell Dad I made a good job of carving the leg of lamb. We finished it today, love Will and Vera.”
To Prestwich, Nr Manchester. Sent October 1914.
“Dear Rene and Winnie, I had my first birthday at Rhyl and I got a lot of birthday cards. I am coming home tomorrow (Saturday) and will be home about seven o’clock. I like Rhyl very much. Our baker is leaving a loaf at your house and mother will be glad if you will bring it round on Saturday night. Love from Vera.”
To Cheyney Road, Chester. Sent Ocober 1913.
“It has been very rough here today and has been raining. Hope you have not had this picture before. You see it becomes coloured by holding it up to the light. JBH”
To Saltley, Birmingham. Sent May 1912.
“Having a real good time in spite of rotten weather, Hilda”
To Hanley, Staffs. From “Carlin” West Parade. Sent June 1918.
“Dear Eva, Fancy me here for a few days. I like Rhyl very much. Fine yesterday went to Llandudno and Colwyn Bay. Today is very wet, I wish it was hot as I am only here for a few days. Hope you are better for the change. Best love, Elsie.”
To Wembley, Middlesex. From “Moranedd”, 23, John Street. Sent 13th August 1922.
“Dear Nan, I am having a lovely time. Weather fine so far. I think this is an ideal place. I made a friend today (Sunday). Her name is Marie Miller. She is very nice. We are going to hire tricycles tomorrow. We have seen the Jolly Boys and the Punch and Judy. Hope you are having a nice time. I got your P.C. Love from Marjorie xxxxxx”
To Kensington, Bath. Sent on 23rd May 1934.
“We concluded congress today at 1.20pm. It has been extremely interesting. The reception concert and dance were crowded last night. The weather has been a bit unsettled but this afternoon the sun has come out lovely. Mr Bailey and I have just been on the pier and I am writing this from the Swimming Bath. He returns tomorrow morning. I am going on the Llandudno trip tonight. I went round Rhyl in the Air Liner on Monday evening. It was splendid (not long enough). I think I should like to fly home to Bath in it. I thought about staying until Sunday. Do you think this would be alright, it would give an extra day. Tell Dad I think we shall have to motor up here later in the year. Mrs Hughes looks after us well. With love, Wepener”
To Wolverhampton. Sent July 1957.
“My Dears, weather awful, hope it gets better. Auntie and Daddy giving us lots of nice things to eat and nice big fires to sit by. Very good trains, packed coming, hope it’s quieter coming home. See you Tuesday, love from Neil and Susan.”
To Kingston, Jamaica. Sent 1950’s.
“Dear Olive, do you still remember me? I thought I’d drop you a card and see if you want to write to me again. We are having a holiday here at Rhyl. Yours, Alicia Hammersley. p.s please write”