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.