I've previously mentioned the postcard collection passed on to me by my mum. The postcards were all sent to my great aunt Edith Smith in the early years of the twentieth century.
Edith received this postcard from her cousin Ethel and it was sent to wish her a Happy Christmas. The words and the edges of the flowers are all outlined in glitter and I think it's a really pretty postcard.
Once the idea of picture postcards had caught on there was an explosion in their use. The Post Office's own figures showed that 312 million postcards were sent in 1895; this had ballooned to 734 million by 1905 and peaked at a staggering 926 million in 1914. Considering the population of Great Britain was around forty six million in 1914 this was an average of 20 postcards a year for every man, woman and child in the country.
Postcards could be used for important communications between family members because the service was so reliable. After the introduction of the Penny Post in 1840 and increasing literacy throughout the nineteenth century new generations of literate people needed and wanted to communicate with each other. Increased industrialisation resulted in greater mobility and families splitting up and the need to keep in touch was ever greater. With a reliable, cheap postal service the postcard was ideal for small talk, gossip, holiday messages, arrangements, romance, Christmas and Birthday greetings. There were half a dozen deliveries each day in the largest cities and at least two in all but the most remote of places. An appointment or arrangement could be made for the next day or even later in the day with a high degree of certainty that the message would be received.
For example, the card below was posted in Wigan at 8.30pm on April 12th 1906. Jack (Edith's brother-in-law) was clearly confident that the message would be delivered in time to give advance notice of their arrival.
I've added some of the postcards Edith received as Birthday Greetings to The Archives.