The Popularity of Postcards in Edwardian Times

During the latter part of the Edwardian period, postcards began to gain popularity. This was due to a number factors: Firstly, the art of photography had improved and was no longer as unwieldy or as expensive as it had been. This allowed photographs to be more easily taken and distributed, which gave the means to actually produce the postcards. Secondly the world was opening up in a way it never had before.

Travel was cheaper, allowing the middle classes to indulge in something that had at first been exclusively for the rich, and better and more modern forms of travel allowed a trip to be taken quicker than it ever had before. Postcards began to be collected as mementos of this travel and also became a good way to share one’s travels with family and friends back home. Iconic photographs, which represented the exotic of the places were people traveled, were sent so those who were not experiencing the actual journey, could feel like they too were apart of the adventure. During the First World War, it allowed the soldiers to easily to keep in contact with their family and sweethearts. Also, paper was expensive, and the length of allowed correspondence was shortened, making the postcard the perfect means of communication.

In 1903, the UK postal system transported over 613 million of these cards to people throughout Britain and legislation was sought to allow them to be shipped worldwide. This new means of communication, however, was not without its issues. It took awhile for people to figure out how to use them in the correct manner. Stamps were placed in the wrong places, they were misaddressed or the images on them were deemed inappropriate. This, however, did not stop their adoption by the world as an easy, efficient means of communication.

Postcards of the World


(1914). [Australian postcard, World War I].


Alfred Galbraith (Author) Postcard – Alfred Galbraith, Egypt, 1915-1916. Museum Victoria

P02307.030.jpgCairo, Egypt. c.1915. Pinup picture postcard of two Egyptian women wearing traditional costume.


Rapid Photo Printing Co (2011-01-31). Clara Butt, English concert contralto, probably 1907-1908 [postcard] / Rapid Photo Printing Co.

562289_medium.jpgPostcard – ‘Arab Chiefs,’ Aden, Yemen, World War I, 1914-1918. Museum Victoria


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4 replies on “The Popularity of Postcards in Edwardian Times”
  1. says: Gail Roth

    This brought up a childhood memory. My Aunt Sarah treasured her postcard collection and had made a book out of them like a photo book that she used to show me. My mother has them! I must go look at it.

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