Postcards as items of art

Postcards were popular because they were a quick, easy and economical way for people to communicate with each other.

  • Jun. 16, 2016 8:00 a.m.

Through the constant stream of pictures on TV and the internet, either selling or showing us something, it is hard appreciate the popularity of the picture postcard as something more than a novelty.

Postcards, as we are familiar with them today, have taken a considerable amount of time to develop.

First restricted by size, colour, and other regulations, postcard production blossomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Postcards were popular because they were a quick, easy and economical way for people to communicate with each other.

By 1900, subject cards had been published, featuring the Boer War and royal events, and in that year, the post office allowed both address and message to be written on one side of the card, freeing up the whole of the other for the picture.

Britain became the first country to introduce the ‘divided back’ postcard format we are familiar with today.

According to Breaking News: The Postcard Images of George Alfred Barrowcloud: “In 1901, 5.4 million Canadians sent 25 million postcards, and 178,659 British Columbians posted 760,000 cards. In 1910, seven million Canadians sent off 45 million postcards; and 407,000 British Columbians posted 2.7 million cards. These numbers pale in comparison to the U.S. … and seem paltry when it is remembered back in 1903, 58 million Germans had already posted over 1 billion cards.”

Given the popularity of the postcard album, it’s certain that countless more were purchased, but never mailed.

Today deltiology, or the collection of postcards, is a popular hobby.

The First World War changed the emphasis of the subjects featured, and afterwards picture postcards never regained their popularity.

Commercial postcard photographers concentrated their efforts where the money was, which typically meant photographing places visited by tourists. The photochrome postcards were in colour, and their images closely resemble photographs, which are the ones most familiar to us today.

In the 1990s, the advent of e-cards and e-mail started the decline of the postcard’s popularity.

Today, postcards are typically purchased as souvenirs, rather than a quick way to communicate.

The Maple Ridge Museum’s kick-off to summer exhibits in the public library begins in July on the “Art of the Postcard.”

Illustrating the different eras of postcards, along with showcasing cards and albums from local household collectors, with mention to George Alfred Barrowcloud and his impact. He was one of the few Canadian photographers that showed interest in happenings beyond city limits, going into the Fraser Valley producing unique panoramas, and photographing people and places that were off the beaten track.

And also where the postcard finds itself today, viewed more as an art item.

 

– Allison White is

curator of the Maple Ridge Museum.

Just Posted

Hospice society hosts fifth annual Oktoberfest

Oktoberators rock out Pitt Meadows hall for fundraiser

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge NDP candidate wins in mock Student Vote Canada

Nationally, students elected a Liberal minority government

Ruimy defeated after one term as Liberal MP in Pitt Meadow-Maple Ridge

Said that he did everything he had planned to do

Dalton takes riding for Conservatives

Says he personally knocked on 10,000 doors in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge

Busy time at polling place in Maple Ridge as hours tick down

Polls close at 7 p.m. in Canada’s 43 election

Scheer says Canada more divided than ever, as NDP and Bloc hold cards close

While Liberals were shut out of two key prairie provinces, they took two-thirds of the seats in Ontario

Two youth arrested in UBC carjacking at gunpoint, after being spotted in stolen Kia

‘A great deal of credit is due the alert person who called us,’ said North Vancouver Sgt. Peter DeVries

Windstorm knocks out power for 10,000 in north and central B.C.

Power slowly being restored, BC Hydro says

Three sprayed with mace during altercation at Port Coquitlam high school

Mounties are still working to determine exactly how many youth were involved

Investor alert: ‘Split games’ pyramid scheme circulating in B.C.

British Columbia Securities Commission issues warning about scheme selling virtual shares

Federal NDP may support B.C. with major projects, Carole James says

SkyTrain Surrey extension, Massey Tunnel need Ottawa’s help

‘Issue-by-issue parliament’: Expert says Liberals need to placate NDP to be effective

Scandals, social issues, racism defined 2019 federal election, SFU prof says

Misconduct investigations spike by 65% across B.C.’s municipal police forces: report

Reports overall up 15 per cent while complaints made by public down seven per cent

Guns, crossbows, swords, ammo seized in raid on Fraser Valley home

Weapons also included stun guns and replica firearms

Most Read