Skip to main content

History of the postcard

The picture postcard came to widespread use after 1902, with a change in rules that allowed both message and address on the same side of the card. This freed up the reverse of the card for an illustration. Suddenly postcards and postcard collecting became all the rage. By 1909 over 800 million postcards were being posted annually in Britain. More were bought just to be kept as souvenirs.

The period from 1902-1919 became known as the “Golden Age of Postcards.” Nearly every professional photographer working at this time was involved in producing postcards.

Amongst these were:

  • P B Abery of Builth Wells
  • William Harwood of Cricieth 
  • Arthur Lewis of Aberystwyth

Large collections of negatives by these photographers can be found in The National Library of Wales.

In addition there are many fine postcards by a variety of local photographers who are known to us by their name alone.

The postcard today

The last 20 years have seen a renaissance in the fortunes of the picture postcard. Many contemporary photographers such as Jeremy Moore, Martin Turtle and Patricia Aithie all choose to publish their work as postcards. All are represented in The National Library of Wales collection.