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

Canada Day a big show in Maple Ridge memorial park

Starts at noon, entertainment all day, July 1

UPDATE: Longboarder, 14, and car collide near Maple Ridge tent city

Teen taken to hospital by ambulance, injuries not life threatening

Letter: Clearcutting B.C.’s last old-growth leaving us poorer, forever

‘True sustainability is leaving similar values and conditions for future generations.’

Bard on the Bandstand returns with Shakespeare at the circus

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows production features gender reversed roles.

VIDEO: Clip of driver speeding past B.C. school bus alarms MLA

Laurie Throness of Chilliwack-Kent says he will lobby for better safety measures

Man charged in crash that killed B.C. pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged for 2018 Highway 1 accident where Kelowna elementary school teacher died

Province unveils 10-year plan to boost mental health, addiction recovery services

The plan, called A Pathway to Hope, focuses on early-intervention services that are seeing high demand

Man arrested for alleged indecent act after ‘predatory’ SkyTrain incident

A woman had reported the man had exposed himself while on the train on April 29

Two helicopters reportedly seized by RCMP near U.S. border south of Cultus Lake

Federal Mounties mum on raid two weeks after dramatic raid reported by Columbia Valley residents

Man shot dead in Vancouver’s fifth homicide of 2019

Body was found in an apartment near Main Street and East 35 Avenue

Abbotsford council declines to declare climate emergency

Mayor says city is working to reduce emissions, but that procedures preclude immediate action

Rock slide in B.C. river may hinder salmon passage

DFO says it is aware that the slide occurred in a narrow portion of the Fraser River

Most Read