"From my Collection"
Some interesting examples from our collections
THE RISE OF THE PICTURE POSTCARD
The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London was the first of many World Fairs and Exhibitions which have continued up to today. Postcards were produced for an Exposition in Chicago in 1873 shortly after the USA Post Office allowed their business use.
However it was a later exhibition in Paris in 1889, which is believed to have really started the popularity of sending souvenir picture postcards. A stall was located at the top of the recently erected Eiffel Tower, and cards could be posted from the top to family and friends. Exhibition organisers and postal authorities soon realised that picture postcards were a popular and lucrative form of advertisement and income. Special postmarks could be used on cards posted at events and special commemorative stamps were issued. As most of the buildings and stands were temporary, postcards are often the only record of these events.
By 1900, all kinds of special events would find a place on picture postcards, such as the Swiss stamp for the UPU Jubilee in 1900 illustrated here. The earliest cards usually had a small artist-drawn vignette as only the address could be written on the reverse side. Postal rules changed in about 1902 and divided backs were allowed for a message as well as an address. Then the picture could fill the front side and photographic views began to compete with artist-drawn pictures. People started to send postcards on their travels and holidays. Often a town view or hotel could be marked with an "X" and a "wish you were here" message added.
Today far fewer events are marked by commemorative postcards although world fairs continue to be held. A set was produced for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and Expo 67 in Montreal. However many people still buy a souvenir postcard on holiday to keep or send.
REF: Pictures in the Post, Richard Carline 1971.