I had planned to write next about my grandparents’ wedding, but as I was searching for their actual wedding date in January 1916 — which I have yet to establish – I came across other interesting information that may delay that post for a while. I also discovered another one of those handed-along family stories that turns out not to be true, according to the physical evidence.
Because of the times they lived in, and the scant local history I learned in school, I also want to pause and set the scene in my next post, going back to about 1910. More research!
It all goes back to that box of postcards. I’ve learned my grandmother had a nickname (Cookie!) that was long forgotten — to anyone but her — by the time I was born. Everyone called her “Mum” by then, except for me. But I’ll get to that later.
In the meantime, these postcards are too good not to share. Clearly, the penny post was a great source of entertainment and were sent as casually as a tweet is today. Many of these cards carry no message on the back and are signed with only initials, a first name or “You Know Who,” since they were just for fun.
To get some text around these images, here’s a little history on postcards. It’s amazing what you can find on the Internet with hardly any effort!
First, postcard collecting has a name: Deltiology. The word is coined from the Greek “tablet” (deltos) and “the study of” (ology). Here I want to acknowledge the very useful document on the website of Seneca County, N.Y. Much of the information I’m summarizing comes from that – and it says the “Golden Era” for picture postcards was from 1907-1915, because of the quality and because the image was printed to the edges of the card, like the ones I’ve posted here.
How popular were postcards then? This writer says it was a mania – with roughly eight postcards sent for every man, woman and child in America in one year.
So the wonder isn’t that I have a handful of fascinating postcards but that I have so few. Though I imagine that anything that abundant and cheap was also disposable to most people. Tomorrow’s post would just bring more.
Another thing I learned is that ancestry.com has a database of what it terms “historical” postcards running into the hundreds of thousands.
WikiHow offers basic tips on how to start collecting postcards, as does eBay, which is awash in them. (I think it’s fair to call 434,982 results in just “vintage postcards” awash).
What’s the most anyone has ever paid for a postcard? This website tracks current sales. As you can see, postcards collectors seek items from all over the world and are willing to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for one.
And what about my little postcard collection? There is no price, of course. They link me to my past and to dear ones gone from this earth many years ago. And, as we shall see, they are clues to a lost world and lives I never really knew.
Do you have any old postcards — from family trips, special occasions, or, like these, just for fun?