28 May - 28 Jun 1975

Wish You Were Here: The History of the Photographic Picture Postcard

28 May - 28 June 1975

An exhibition showing the history of the photographic Picture Postcard.

Introduction by Sue Davies

Robert R.Littman, Director of the Emily Lowe Gallery first told me about the exhibition while he was in preparation and the idea of the change of scale other contrast to our normal exhibitions appealed to me, as did the opportunity of exhibiting what must surely be the most popular use of photography as art throughout the history of the medium.

Knowing a little about ‘collectors’ as a race I am also very impressed by the really great extent of his research and ability to reassure the owners of these cards and procure their enthusiastic help in the organizing of a touring exhibition on the scale.

The limiting of the project of photographic cards means that it is just possible to show a fair cross-section of the history but even with this limitation there are obviously thousands more – as Mr Littman says in his catalogue note – that there simply was not room to include.

The history of the picture postcard began soon after the introduction of the plain card in 1870 and by the 1890s a huge industry was developing in Europe and the United States. Examples come from many countries and there have been donations from Richard Morphet of the Tate Gallery, who has also written the introduction to the catalogue and also the painter Mark Lancaster. The collecting of postcards by the public seems to have begun soon after their invention and by the beginning of the century everybody began to have their albums of cards, and clubs were formed where members could trade and exchange with each other. The interest in the clubs began to lessen in the 20s but at the present time there is  a real revival of interest in collecting the good new cards that are currently being produced.


For further information on this and past exhibitions, visit our Archive and Study Room.