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Postcards were first introduced by the Post Office in Great Britain in 1870. These early postcards were plain cards issued solely by the Post Office. They had a pre-printed stamp. In 1894, British publishers were given permission by the Royal Mail to manufacture and distribute picture postcards, which could be sent through the post. The earliest of these UK postcards were produced by George Stewart of Edinburgh and early postcards were pictures of famous landmarks, scenic views, photographs of people, usually celebrities. By the turn of the twentieth century postcard companies were producing massive amounts of postcards for all occasions. Some of the most prominent of these early picture postcard publishers were Valentines, Francis Frith, and Tuck. Prolific early Somerset producers of Somerset postcards include: Vowles of Porlock and Minehead; Hole of Williton, and Montague Cooper of Taunton. By the early 1900s, millions of postcards were being produced locally, nationally, and internationally, every year, of almost every possible subject. The start of the First World War brought to an end what is known as the Golden Age of Picture Postcards, and the publishing, sending and collecting of postcards became a less popular activity.

Two examples of vintage pre-First World War picture postcards from our collection.

  old ilminster postcard old taunton postcard

Postcards are often an invaluable source of social history, because they show what was popular or seen as important in the area in which the postcard depicts. As with any photographic image, postcards can and do show the change in buildings, clothing, and transportation over time. The collecting of old postcards remains a popular hobby activity and almost essential to anyone interested in local history or conducting genealogical research.

 Picture Postcards

External postcard link: Old Postcards

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