Wish You Were Here: 151 Years of the British Postcard

Ends 2 January 2022
The Postal Museum
Included in museum ticket

Wish You Were Here celebrates and explores the iconic role the postcard has played in connecting people for more than a century and a half.

The British postcard’s history began in 1870 and 2020 marked its 150th anniversary. An innovation of its time, the postcard meant new and faster correspondence through the post. They were used to send secret messages of love, to boost morale for soldiers at war and to boast from holidays near and afar.

Visitors can explore the postcard through history and reflect on its future with themes including romance, First World War correspondence, the Great British seaside, contemporary art and the postcard in a digital age.

This temporary exhibition is included with entry to The Postal Museum. A ticket to the Museum also includes permanent exhibitions and a ride on Mail Rail. If you are an annual ticket holder or member, you can book a visit to the Museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions for free for one year from the date of your first visit.

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  • 1870: The first British postcard

    The one that started it all and sparked the public’s obsession for sending and collecting postcards.

  • Romance: Olive

    Romantic cards with secret messages illustrated and sent by Harry to his sweetheart Olive in the early years of the 20th century.

  • First World War: Letters Home

    Correspondence by Rifleman Harry Brown that captures the war through the postcards he sent home to his mother.

  • Seaside: ‘It’s Great Here’

    Nostalgic saucy seaside postcards by the prolific Bamforth & Co Ltd reminding people of their childhood holidays.

  • Art: Contemporary Design

    Discover how artists are remixing postcard design today. Image © Francesca Colussi Cramer

  • Souvenirs and collecting

    See why postcards became such a popular item to collect.



The exhibition was originally scheduled for 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic. As an independent museum and educational charity, closing our doors is hard. If you can donate to support the Museum during these uncertain times, it will make a significant difference




Explore the history of postcards through our collections and blog.

See all postcard related blogs and search the collection on our Exporing Postcards page.

    • Christmas
    • 13 December 2016

    A Life and Love on Paper

    A box in our collection set Curator Joanna on the trail of a moving story of romance, artistry and even secret messages...

    Read more
    • blog
    • 30 September 2020

    How to write a Postcard

    With examples from the collection follow our step by step guide to writing your own postcard.

    Read more



Expand your own collection with iconic postcards inspired by our collection