Old Postcards

My mother began collecting postcards when she was au-pairing in Italy in the early 1970s. Her parents kept all the cards she sent home from her travels, including pictures of many Roman antiquities. These then formed the core of a substantial collection that has grown over the last 40 years as my mother passed the collection on to me and continues to supply me with any that she receives.

Now, just shy of some 700 cards, this collection is a fascinating documentary of where our family has lived and who our friends are and where they have travelled to. I can easily spend an hour gazing at the pictures and reading through the legends and feeling wistful about the days before email and instagram.

Since I have got in the habit of uploading something more visual at the weekends and, inspired by another blogger (Rosalilium),  I thought I’d share a few randoms from this collection:

Somewhere near Rome Circa 1970

There are no clues on this card, the reverse is blank but it is one of many my mother acquired in Italy.

Crab and Lobster Inn, Bembridge, Isle of Wight. Dated 2/3/70

My mother’s family has connections with the Isle of Wight and my grandfather kept a boat on the Solent. This was a favourite spot.

Mudmen of Asaro River area, Papua New Guinea. Postmark 1977.

This one is great, sent to my parents in Zimbabwe from a New-Zealand Uncle who was scouting new business opportunities in the province. Actually the back is worth a look, too:

Check that Silver Jubilee PNG Stamp!

I think the irony of the mudmen picture was calculated by the soap salesman.

C.E.G.B. Didcot Power Station, Oxfordshire. Circa 1987

I acquired this on a school trip to the power station, maybe one of the most uninspiring cards in my entire collection. Several years later I wrote on in but clearly never actually posted it to my best friend at senior school:

Dear Tom,
Congratulations on your A in media studies; I bet you’re pleased. I am very relieved to have got an A in maths. Sorry I did not write earlier to tell you what I have been up to. I want to start up a sort of journal publishing young people’s writing from all around the country. Tell you more when I see you at school.
From Seymour.
What a dull postcard!!?

Tom is a successful journalist now. I’ve been involved in a couple of unsuccessful magazine start-ups and have eventually resorted to blogging and podcasting.

September 2002. Made for the Art Show on Channel 4.

When I picked this up (I think it may have been at a cinema) I thought it might be worth something one day. I have no idea, it’s probably worth diddly-squat but it’s definitely one of the more curious cards in the collection.

Here’s a link to Rosalilium’s Vintage Postcards post.

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87 Responses

  1. When I was working at a school it Witney I took a class to Didcot power station on a school trip! Really interesting images btw too.

    • Must be a standard school trip in the area. I remember being very disappointed that we did not get to see inside one of the cooling towers because on the time of year.

  2. I really like old postcards!

    • Yuh – I love ‘em too. Got ‘em coming outta me ears, like :-) I’m so grateful to my mother for starting this collection and also grateful for the chance to share them with an appreciative audience.

  3. What neat keepsakes. I sometimes send my sister, now in Oregon, South Dakota postcards… just for fun.

    • Postcards … only take a couple of minutes to scribble and yet they can mean so much for years to come. Thank you for commenting!

  4. Those images are amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  5. The post card from Papua New Guinea is my favourite; there’s just something so interesting and exotic about it. Fascinating! :)

    What a lovely collection and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  6. These are some very cool and unique postcards. It really seems like your family has a thing for traveling. And I also think that the whole start of a postcard collection is very neat. I can’t wait to see more.

    I’ll appreciate it if you checked out my blog http://janachantel1.wordpress.com/ it’s about me trying to become a successful published author. And please feel free to subscribe!

  7. What a lovely way to keep records of history! Great and unique collection.

  8. You should get involved with Postcrossing. I’ve been doing it for about a year now and it’s incredible getting postcards from all over the world!

  9. Aren’t some postcards so beautiful or funny that you hate to give them away?

  10. What a wonderful family chronicle! I love this post! And congrats on Freshly Pressed. Hang on for the ride!
    Kathy

    • Yes, it has all got quite crazy rather quickly. I never paid much attention to the Freshly Pressed page, but it seems that people do. It’s an honour, and nice to meet some more bloggers, too. Thank you for commenting, Kathy.

  11. What an incredibly large and interesting collection! I have kept some postcards as memorabilia and I really enjoy looking at them from time to time!

  12. I LOVE the Mudmen from New Guinea — very cool! Thanks for sharing!

    • Actually, I think this picture gave me nightmares when I was a kid, but it didn’t put me off going on to study anthropology.

  13. Does anyone collect anything? I have a postcard wall with a couple but this sounds huge!

  14. That’s fantastic! I’ve collected postcards since I was in 6th grade. I still continue today….hopefully I’ll have a big collection by the time I’m very old. Great article!

  15. I used to collect postcards but not anymore. These days, I collect fabric for my evergrowing quilt obsession.

  16. These are so cool. I have a cousin that collects postcards and an aunt that collects old stamps. I think both will find this post interesting. =)

  17. thoroughly enjoyed this post – I’ve been collecting postcards since I was little and have a trunk full of them! I went to this antique mall a bit ago and they had a whole collection of ones that had been sent decades ago that I just adored.

    -grace

    http://herumbrella.com

    • Sounds amazing! Imagine if that trunk full of postcards could be passed on to the next generation and keep growing, what a fascinating historical record it would make one day. I hope that postcards survive The Internet era!

  18. some of those post cards are really creepy..lol..

  19. Postcards are great! Whenever I travel somewhere I always manage to purchase a few before I leave. I absolutely love the third one with the Mudmen of Asaro River.

  20. This is so cool. I have so many postcards as well. I definitely want to start saving them now.

  21. What an incredible way to document memories and connections — I love this!
    :)

  22. Excellent post! My grandmother kept many old postcards herself and it’s incredible to look at all the images and read what people wrote. Seems like some are from a far away land!

    http://thediaryofsugarandspice.wordpress.com/

  23. I love old pictures and post cards. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

  24. Sweet! Interesting to see the past.

  25. What an interesting collection of memories! <3
    ~Amber

  26. The Crab & Lobster was one of our favorite haunts as well – spooky to see it here!
    I have collected postcard, leaflets & pamplets from the age of 5 years and have a large collection in scrap books. Now at the tender age of 53 yrs – I’m unsure what to do with them! However after looking at your post I may keep them for posterity. Love the mudmen too – my father worked with pygmy’s in South Africa and has some wonderful photos.
    Thank you for an enjoyable post.

    • It was at the crab and lobster that I first tasted smoked mackrel. We then went back to Africa and I didn’t taste it again for about 7 years.

  27. My friend collects old postcards. Sometimes I go to an antique store with her and we look through their selection, trying to find ones with especially interesting written messages. I think I would like to start my own collection. Postcards can be such a great record of life and history. Thanks for sharing

  28. Unique and interesting collection.

  29. that’s very cool! when i was younger, i’d get postcards everywhere i traveled. i guess i’ve replaced them with photos…but might have to pick it back up. my son would enjoy sorting through them when he’s older.
    http://www.icouldntmakethisshitup.wordpress.com

  30. These are neat postcards! I like the Crab and Lobster Inn….I bet they had some good food!

  31. Thank you, everyone for all your lovely comments today, they are appreciated. Sorry I have not quite been able to keep up with them all. Thank you for reading.

  32. I love this post! I work at a rare book library where I have recently been sorting through correspondence, most of which are on postcards. There is something scandalous and brave about the whole concept–the message being so exposed to the eyes of whoever decides to pick it up.

    This is a really nice collection–I hope that you continue to find enjoyment while investigating the cards!!

  33. I love postcards and letterboxes – check out this wonderful world where you can send random postcards and receive them from around the world. There is something magic when you check the letterbox and find a pretty postcard from an exotic place. Our local post office love them too and reckon we have the most interesting mail!

    http://www.postcrossing.com/

    • I too collect postcards and also belong to Postcrossing. I’ve met some great people via this group, some with whom I still maintain regular correspondence. It’s an inexpensive hobby and quite fascinating. I particularly like ad postcards, because I feel they are a snapshot of current society. Someday I may include pictures of some my better ones in my own blog. This is a great idea! (www.haydemon.wordpress.com).

  34. Fantastic collection – I’d love to see more!

  35. Thanks for your post. I can’t remember the last time I got a postcard, maybe I’ll bring it back in my family;)

  36. My mom, my sister, and I used to send postcards to dad when we went on trips, we used to get them from all the people we met when we were gone too. Now I wish I’d kept better track of this stuff. Neat collection!-Ellie

  37. I think this collection is super chic! It must be the coolest thing in the world, to sit around and read peoples old postcards, and the pictures are super nifty! Check out my blog mimination.wordpress.com, thanks (:

  38. why hasn’t anyone comment on my blog

  39. Those post cards are total differet from the post cards in my country!! It is interesting!!

  40. Maybe those cards contain many past memories of you. Your mother is great.

    I like the third card mostly.^^ Thanks for sharing…

  41. what a wonderful collection of stories – thanks for sharing.
    And congrats on being freshly pressed!

  42. The photos are interesting especially that one that contains the “mudmen”.

  43. Awesome read! I have always kept any letters or post cards anyone has sent me cause its something my parents always did, but they have always just sat in boxes untouched. Your post really made me want to go back through and look at and read all of my own. Its amazing the inspiring messages people can send in such a tiny space on the back of a postcard! Thanks for sharing!

  44. neat idea for a collection.

  45. I used to collect postcards and stamps too but has stopped. However, I continue to send postcards to friends who collect them whenever I travel :p

  46. Great stories, your style is down to earth and well written. This BJ loved it!

  47. I am intrigued by the address on the back of the card sent to your folks in Rhodesia as spent my childhood in N. Rhodesia back in the day, was your dad a teacher at the school Peterhouse? Do post more of your collection, they are fascinating and even ‘boring’ cards become fascinating with the passage of time!

    • Now that is interesting. Yes My father taught at Peterhouse from about 1970 to 1983 and that is where I spent my early childhood, too. It was a wonderful place to grow up but as a youngster I was quite sheltered from all the turmoil that is, sadly, still going on :-( I hope that I’ll be able to go back there one day.

  48. Post cards were Probably the worlds 1st Twitter !! sending messages in less than140 words!! a lost adrt but one which gave much more warmtn and feelings than modern days gadgets / messengers!!

  49. Gorgeous and so special. What an heirloom! Thanks for sharing them to the world!

  50. Hmm… nice postcards! I wonder how you keep your collection of postcards? Do you have something like a postcard album? How do you keep them from wear and tear even after so many year?!

  51. now this is amazing. I just remember my sister used to collect stamps. How I wish she still have them and I can post some :) collections … collections…

  52. so lovely!these things would worth a great of money!

    http://lionsxu.wordpress.com

  53. What a great idea to showcase your collection of postcards – it’s such a clever way to tell stories about trips, family travel, life events and loved ones… very creative and unique… Thanks for sharing.. and maybe one day, I’ll ask permission to “share” your idea with friends… really cool – cheers from Brazil!

  54. Wow, that is wonderful. Collecting postcards as both mementos and ‘heirloom’ is a great thing to share with future and younger generations. I too collect a few postcards but would love to collect more in the future.

  55. This post makes me so happy. I have been collecting postcards for awhile now. I think they are beautiful and give me a glimpse into the past. I have written two posts about them.

    http://nikkinicoleblog.com/2011/01/10/vintage-postcards-and-photos/

    http://nikkinicoleblog.com/2010/12/16/new-favorite-thing/

  56. [...] Seymour Writes has a collection of nearly 700 postcards, which started when his mother started sending postcards to her parents while working as an au pair in Italy in the 1970s. It is a fascinating documentary of where our family has lived and who our friends are and where they have travelled to. From Seymour Writes's collection: Somewhere near Rome Circa 1970 [...]

  57. Far from being boring, I think the fact someone made a postcard of Didcot Powerstation is fascinating. They obviously thought people would send them…I wonder who.

  58. Love the postcards. I wrote about the post office today-
    check it out- I hope post card writing doesn’t disappear! What nice memories.

  59. SeymourJacklin.co.Uk Ich bin ein Fan meiner Freundin… Frieden, R.A. Noble N.

  60. I love it! I often use old post cards and photographs as inspiration for stories on my blog. Great post!

  61. Great post! I’m fascinated by old postcards. I’ve made a few shorts films revolving around vintage postcards I find in antique shops and I had an installation last year that focused on my own postcard collection.

  62. What a fascinating post. I have kept postcards from friends and from places I have visited for years. I often use them as bookmarks so that when I re-visit a book I get a little reminder not only of when I last read it, but also of someone or somewhere important at the time. I like to think its a kind of on-going artwork but really its a bit of fun – a random memory generator.

  63. Wow! Great pictures! Some funny stuff. My mom collects postcards (that she buys herself).

  64. Very enjoyable post, sir! I have come across a few postcards that my father received in the 50s. This has inspired me to post a few myself!

  65. I collect postcards myself, but it’s getting to be more of a challenge because people just don’t send them like they used to. But I have a box full of them, some I’ve saved since I was a kid, so I know they’re at least 30 years old. I wish I could find a traveling pen pal or something that could send me postcards from all over the world. ;)

  66. OIne day these cards will be so precious. They are interesting now but may well be the only things left of some of the biuldings and views.

  67. Some years ago I was collecting postcards from places I have visited, and I have also some really funny cards in my collection.

    Thanks for sharing

  68. This is a truly beautiful collection of stories & memories. Thank you for sharing!

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