Wednesday , September 19 2018
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There's a sense of pathos, but also fascination, in a tiny insight into a moment in the lives of people of which you otherwise know, and probably can know, nothing.

Postcard history

I’ve recently been venturing into a new area of Ebay, “collectables, postcards”. What sent me there was a brainwave for a present, so I won’t mention the front of the cards I’m buying, but what I have found interesting is the back. Seemingly the majority of cards on sale are, as the jargon goes, “postally unused”, but it is the used ones I find most interesting.

There’s a sense of pathos, but also fascination, in a tiny insight into a moment in the lives of people of which you otherwise know, and probably can know, nothing.

I’ve got one postmarked Pocklington, 6PM, April 28, 1911. It reads:
Dear Floiry,
Sorry I cannot meet you at Pock tomorrow as Baby is poorly it is a bad cold and his teeth I will see Maud (?) and then I will meet you next Sat as she will get you it done hope you are well we are all well at home except Baby.
Love to you from all at home from Mother AR.

It is addressed to Miss ? Robinson c/o Mr E Pearson Manor Farm Mellonily (?) Pocklington.

Pocklington describes itself today as: “a classic English market town situated at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, about 15 miles from the city of York, in the East Riding of Yorkshire”.

The writing to me seems reasonably educated, and the spelling correct, despite the entire absence of punctuation, and I’m imagining maybe a local family of perhaps the yeoman class in which the oldest daughter, perhaps in her late teens, is working as a governess or companion with the local gentry family, and having perhaps her monthly day off, when she would normally meet her mother in the market town …
Sound feasible?

I’m also curious whether much academic work has been done on postcards. I was musing that you could do some fascinating stuff say from the Seventies when the British (I gather) started going to Spain in large numbers on package holidays. Analysis of the postcards home, if you could assemble a collection of them, might be very revealing.

About Natalie Bennett

Natalie blogs at Philobiblon, on books, history and all things feminist. In her public life she's the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.

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