notes for cabinet particulier, part ii: History of Edwardian postcards

Edwardian postcard.
Edwardian postcard.

Dear Internet,

Today TheHusband, my MIL, ThePug, and myself spent majority of our time in the main living room doing various and sundry tasks. I curled up in a chair with a constant cup of tea near me with ThePug conjoined to my hip as I researched on Cabinet Particulier and juxtaposed the research with recreational reading. TheHusband worked with my MIL on her oral history — she literally is one of the most interesting women in the world. In between bits of cookies, tea, and reading, I gave archivist advice on documenting, curating, and archiving her stories. She, along with my FIL, are published poets and writers and there are plans of TheHusband and I becoming the family historians in the next few years to start documenting their papers and stories to save for future generations.

I have been toying with the idea of my heroine as supplementing her income as an actress by becoming an Edwardian postcard model, which was something many of the actresses of the era did, something I had come across from my initial research a few years ago. As I started falling down that particular research hole this afternoon, I came across this great paper The Edwardian postcard: a revolutionary moment in rapid multimodal communications which discusses a current project at Lancaster University co-directed by the authors. The paper goes into great detail about literacy and accessibility of writing postcards, which lead into it becoming a social phenomenon during the beginning of the 20th century.

  • Mail delivery happened in major cities up to 10 times a day, so responses were often “instant”
  • The average number of postcards written during this period, per person, is 200
  • UK Postmaster General reported to have delivered 6 BILLION postcards during the Edwardian era
  • Postcards were significantly cheaper to send than regular letters (Half penny per postcard as opposed to a full penny for a letter)
  • Postcards could be, and were, written in a very informal style which gave writers more freedom of expression

[Postcards] are utterly destructive of style, and give absolutely no play to the emotions. George Sims circa 1902

I found the above quote amusing since near identical verbiage has been given about Twitter.

The paper and the project were the source of why numerous articles in 2009 popped up about Edwardian postcards and referring to the postcards as the grandfather of social networking.

For those like me who are interested in more history on postcards, and their rise in Edwardian era, below are good points to start out:

If you’re interested in seeing examples of Edwardian postcards, Google, Flickr, and Tumblr each have a treasure trove of examples that should keep you busy for some time.

xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2012