Wish You Were Here?: Holiday Postcards

Are you old enough to remember when we sent picture postcards from our holidays? Nice scenes of the place where we were staying, photos of sunny beaches, or the traditional British ‘saucy joke’ cards?

The modern advance of phone cameras, Facebook, Instagram, and many other social media platforms has more or less killed off the hand-written postcard. That along with the cost of postage, and the chore of buying them, writing them, and buying stamps to post them. I remember them with great fondness though, and I was still sending them regularly, as recently as 1990.

The first picture postcard officially recognised as such was sent in 1840, in London. The Victorian era in Britain saw the practice quickly taken up by holidaymakers though, as rail travel broadened the horizons of ordinary people, and they were keen to tell their friends, family, or work colleagues just what a great time they were having, by sending them a suitable drawing of the resort.

These ‘cute’ cards continued to be popular until the 1930s.

In Britain after WW2, family holidays became more commonplace. But the postcards they sent from their destinations began to change. This was the advent of the ‘saucy’ card, which usually had nothing to do with the resort, or even being on holiday.

Some of these became so rude, they were actually banned at the time!
Like this one.

Once the ‘swinging sixties’ arrived, sauciness was on the way out, unable to compete with what could be seen every day in the streets, at the cinema, or on TV. But they kept going with the saucy cards, all the same.

When organised holiday camps became popular here, people would send back postcards showing the camps themselves.
You have to remember that this was what was perceived as ‘luxury’ for working class people in 1960s Britain.

Once I started to travel, I was always keen to get the cards bought, written, and sent home as early as possible.
It was not unknown for us to return from our trip many days before the cards arrived.

I was lucky enough to go to places thought to be ‘exotic’ at the time.
Tunisia was considered to be an unusual destination then.

And very few British people travelled to the Soviet Union in the 1970s.
So I was sure to get cards sent back from Leningrad.

I understand why picture postcards have lost their appeal. And I can see why new generations of holidaymakers would find it crazy to buy a photo and send it home with something written on the back, when they can share a picture of themselves by the pool within seconds of arriving.

But I would still love to receive a holiday postcard from someone.

110 thoughts on “Wish You Were Here?: Holiday Postcards

  1. My mum and dad always send me postcards when they go away on holidays! I love to get them and used to have a huge collection of cards that I’d been sent!

    I like to send cards too, though I use an app on my phone called TouchNote which creates a postcard from a photo you have taken which I really like as so often I see some amazing views, sunsets, or other holiday things that I like sharing xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Suzi. Glad to hear you are keeping it going, even with an App. πŸ™‚
      I got one from Paul S today, in response to this post Exciting! If you ever want to send me one, my address is below. I will be featuring any I get, in a future post.
      Best wishes, Pete. xxx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wait on, sometimes you will get it as an app. Lol Btw: I am asking myself why are apps so fascinating? “App” is the abbrevation for “application”. Right? In the background works the same software as since over 20 years. Only the “tipping with one finger” makes it much more funny. πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m heartened to hear I’m not the only one who still loves to receive postcards, I’ve got a collection which I started back in the mid 80s. I’ve dropped one in the post to you this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have sent postcards recently but they were for friend’s children’s doing school projects. Ours were mostly scenic, but I do remember the risquΓ© cards β€” they were a favorite of my father.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Is a photograph with a few lines attached, sent from a smartphone, any less personal than a postcard? I don’t know. Each has its merits, I suppose. Unfortunately, whilst I recognise the intrinsic value of a well-chosen postcard, there is also the environmental consideration, or is that just being churlish? πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t even considered environmental factors. Though now I wonder about all the metal extraction and plastic production needed to produce the 5 Billion mobile phones currently used all over the world. And that’s without the telephone masts, satellites, and the necessary signal booster towers. I think that might have a bigger carbon footprint than postcards, stamps, and a postman in a small van.
      But I could be wrong. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.


  5. I used to love going through the revolving display stands outside the gift shops, looking for the rudest cards πŸ™‚ We still get cards from relations in Austria when they go on holiday, my Aunty is a great one for tradition and has passed it on to my cousins.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I miss them, as well. When my mother-inlaw passed away, we found that she had a drawer full of greeting cards, from over the years. We would not consider selling the post cards. Too much nostalgia! The holiday cards, went to a Charity, I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I used to have a wall of postcards in my kitchen before I met the OH and moved. I still have them in a box somewhere. I also used to send the grandchildren postcards until fairly recently. They loved getting them from abroad. I was going to do a few posts on the postcards, but wasn’t certain about the copyright issue on the images.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Living in Las Vegas, we sometimes send bling-bling postcards abroad. We also send postcards of places like Red Rock Canyon NCA, Valley of Fire State Park, and Hoover Dam. But we particularly get a kick out of sending postcards featuring Area 51. Tell me what type(s) you prefer (we’ve also got Elvis, Marilyn, showgirl, and naughty postcards), and I’ll drop by the local Pony Express office in a day or two.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember as a kid choosing postcards to send to friends (and spending ages reading the saucy ones). I still sometimes buy scenic postcards to bring back, usually slipped between the pages of a guide book. I’m not on holiday now until November but I’ll make a point of sending a card then, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I still like to send postcards, though we don’t holiday as such, I will send postcards from days out, usually to the childrens grandparents. I think it is nice to receive them, and it’s quite a unique thing now I would guess – Ive never received one this side of the millennium. The price of postage does put you off when you consider how much a personalised WhatsApp photo of the whole family at the destination costs (yep, that would be a big fat Β£0!). However its novel and fun. When my Grandad was still alive, he lived many hours from me, so I would create a postcard with his grandchildren on, then use an app that printed them as postcards and sent them to him. Not quite as personal as handwritten, but when he passed away we found his stash of postcards of my boys that he had saved, and obviously appreciated πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The fact that he saved those postcards just goes to show how important they were to him as ‘communication’. Pleased to hear that you still send them. Send me one! I will feature all the cards I receive, in another post!
      29, Beech Road,
      NR20 4EZ.
      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


  11. I have to admit, Pete, that I have never sent a postcard. I used to write letters when I was a girl and send them to my friends (we moved a lot) but I never had a postcard to send. By the time I got married, we already had fancy cameras and shared our own photographs. They were not digital but had to be developed from film.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hey Pete! Even I am an old soul in this way. I love handwritten birthday cards and post cards, both of which I miss now a days. Nothing beats the personalisation that you put in just by signing a card in ink

    Liked by 1 person

  13. See? And again THIS pretty much proves why I love your blog so much Pete. You never know what appears here, and this was yet again an awesome subject! Lol, those saucy cards were too funny! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I have to admit I also was one who sent postcards from my holiday locations, but alas those days seem to be gone now. Real shame, as it was honestly quite a lot of fun to do 😊 Great and very nostalgic post Pete: absolutely loved it! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I send post cards to my mother, especially as she lives on tne other side of the world and also to the grandchildren as they don’t live nearby. I am wondering for how long they will stilll be in shops. This blog was of particular interest as I have been collecting picture post cards since I was eight. Where ever we went I asked Mum and Dad to buy me one. I also collected all the ones sent to our famliy – now it is the cards with writing on the back that are of most interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My wife and I still send picture postcards from wherever we are – she way more than I do. I prefer to send picture postcards I make/print myself from pictures taken during our trips, but that, naturally, can only be done when we’re back home again.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I love the concept of the postcard from a foreign, exotic location…when my wife and I were on the Orient Express last year, they encouraged us to send their post cards, which were stamped on the train with their special seal! We did just that, including one to ourselves, which shows up shortly after we returned, a fun reminder of our grand adventure…loved the “cheeky” ones you shared as well Pete!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I actually didn’t mind writing and sending postcards. It was part of the holiday for me, and people really did expect to get them at the time. I know that they are still sold in many places, but I would be amazed if anyone under 60 still sends them.
      Thanks, Stevie.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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