On View: British Postcards

Credit: The Postal Museum

Postcard depicting South Sands at Scarborough, England, in the early 1900s.

A new exhibition at The Postal Museum in London looks at more than a century and a half of the British postcard.

Wish You Were Here: 151 Years of the British Postcard – delayed from last year because of lockdown restrictions – celebrates the history of the postcard in Britain since the first one was sent in 1870 and illustrates how it became an essential way to brag about one’s holidays. Other themes include romance and the postcard in the digital age, and include:

Credit: The Postal Museum

The first British postcard from 1870.

•    the first British postcard from 1870, a pre-paid postcard template with a blank front
•    correspondence from Harry Brown, a rifleman in the First World War, to his mother back home in England
•    original artwork produced by specialists in the saucy postcard, Bamforth & Co Ltd (featuring some deemed inappropriate for sale)  
•    contemporary art using postcards including pieces by North Wales-based textile artist Francesca Colussi Cramer

“We really want our visitors to be curious about the future of the postcard,” said exhibition curator Georgina Tomlinson. “An innovation of its day, people became obsessed with sending and collecting postcards, and they documented the significant and mundane of everyday life much like social media today. We hope the exhibition will evoke both a sense of nostalgia and invite our visitors to think about the different ways they connect with friends and family.”

The exhibition opened online on April 1 and, pandemic constraints permitting, will open in real life on May 20 and run until January 2, 2022. It will be accompanied by events throughout 2021 at the museum.