Curator Georgina shares her top 10 postcards (well not just postcards...) from our new exhibition Wish You Were Here.

1. ‘It’s Great Here!’ Artwork

Artwork of three figures with their backs to the audience and a child has written 'It's Great Here!' across their backsides.

‘It’s Great Here!’ Artwork by Arnold Taylor, c.1960-65 ©Bamforth and Co, on loan from Kirklees Museums and Galleries, E16368/04.

For many of us when we think of postcards we think of the seaside. On display we have examples of sketches, artwork and postcards by Bamforth and Company. This image isn’t technically a postcard, it’s the original artwork used to create the postcard design.

2. Peter Liversidge Postcard

White postcard with black letterpress text.

Peter Liversidge Postcard, 2021 © Peter Liversidge, image The Postal Museum

For this exhibition we were lucky enough to work with London based artist Peter Liversidge. Peter has created 4 unique postcards for our audience that explore the importance of communication. Don’t forget to take a card home as you leave the exhibition.

3. Suffragette Postcard

Image of a small suffragette in a blue dress being lifted in the air by a large police officer.

‘Come over Here’ Postcard, 1913, 2016-0069.

Postcards can act as propaganda, illustrating a specific political message and were used during the women’s suffrage movement. In the early 20th century sending postcards was cheap and hugely popular, which meant these images were widely circulated. This card demeans the small female figure as the policeman holds her in the air, undermining what she is fighting for. We also have on display an alternative suffragette postcard that depicts a woman in prison serving time behind bars for the cause.

4. ‘Grazing the Commons’ Postcard

Image of a tent with cows grazing on the fabric, pitched in front of the Houses of Parliament.

‘Grazing the Commons’ Postcard, 2021 ©Guy Atkins / Richard Keith Wolff, on loan from artist, E13609/10.

To understand postcard collecting from a collector’s point of view we worked with artist and writer Guy Atkins. They curated a display of their postcards looking at the changing landscape of Parliament Square. The square situated next to the Houses of Parliament acts as both a space of political change and protest. This postcard, which shows people camping on the square, was produced by Guy featuring an image taken by Richard Keith Wolff.

5. ‘The Moon’ Postcard

Ilustration of a couple holding each other looking up to the moon.

‘The Moon’, hand illustrated postcard, 1908, 2014-0038/032.

Within our romance section of the show, we have a beautiful collection of hand illustrated postcards from Harry to his sweetheart Olive. This card depicts the couple together looking up at the moon. You can learn more about Harry and Olive in our blog A Life and Love on Paper.

6. Saltburn Embroidered Postcard

Coloured landscape postcard with three patches of embroidery stitches that mimic the design in colour and layout.

‘Saltburn’ Postcard, 2019 ©Francesca Colussi Cramer, on loan from artist, E16362/01.

The artist Francesca Colussi Cramer embroiders directly into postcards, giving new life to old cards. In this design of ‘Saltburn’ she has mimicked the original colours and landscape in the embroidery thread.

7. Piccadilly Circus Postcard

Pictorial postcard of Piccadilly Circus where the sender has written under the image.

Piccadilly Circus Postcard, 1903, 00383/66.

Picture postcards by commercial publishers were not accepted by the Post Office until 1894. They had to adhere to rules which meant leaving one whole side of the card blank for the address. The message was then squeezed around the image, as demonstrated in this example from our collection.

8. Prisoner of War Postcard

German prisoner of war postcard including the name of the soldier and the address of the recipient.

Harry Brown Prisoner of War Postcard, 1917, PH11/14.

Within the show we explore the story of Harry Brown, a member of the 2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Through the letters and postcards Harry sent home to his mother we can document his journey during the First World War. Harry was captured in 1917 and the above postcard was sent from a prisoner of war camp in Germany.

9. Uncut Sheet of the First British Postcard

A large sheet consisting of 36 postcard images before cutting.

Uncut sheet of postcards, 1870, IS90.

The first postcard was produced in Austria Hungary in 1869. The British Post Office introduced their own card the following year. The card consisted of a pre-printed half penny stamp and was a cheap quick means of communication at half the price of a letter. The sheet shows how they looked before they were cut down into individual cards.

10. Postcrossing Stamps

A miniature sheet of four stamps featuring a postal worker on a bike with a postcard in their hand.

Hungarian Postcrossing Stamps, 2018, E16495/01.

Organisations like Postcrossing are encouraging traditional postcard communication by using their website as a way of connecting people across the world. These Hungarian stamps (I know not a postcard!) show you the popularity of Postcrossing in different countries.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this taster into some of the highlights on display. If you’d like to visit the show it will be on until January 2022 and you can find out more about booking online.

All the best,

– Georgina Tomlinson, Exhibition Curator

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