Dating old postcards

The use of 'Picture Postcards' was first sanctioned by the British Postal Authorities on 1st September 1894.

Prior to this date - pre-printed plain cards were in use which are commonly referred to as 'Postal Stationery' The size of cards varied throughout this period. The 'Intermediate' size of 5 x 3 inches (approx) was followed by the adopted standard sized card 5½ x 3½ inches which was in common use from 1900 until the 1960's The postage rate for postcards was a halfpenny - ½d ½d 1894 - 1900 Vermillion The colour of the halfpenny - ½d stamp was changed in 1900 to meet international standards.

The next card series began with either "A" or "R"* and were numbered from 1—124180.

From 1908 until 1913 production dates are not clear and were determined by copyright dates found on a few of the cards. After 1913, dates began to appear occasionally in the order books kept by the company and from 1922 on, production dates were well documented.

Cards with messages had been sporadically created and posted by individuals since the beginning of postal services.

The earliest known picture postcard was a hand-painted design on card, posted in Fulham in London by the writer Theodore Hook to himself in 1840, and bearing a penny black stamp.

½d 1900 - 1901 Blue-Green Quenn Victoria died on 22 January 1901 Great Britain was the first country to sanction the use of the divided back postcard in 1902. The divided back allowed for one side of the card to be used for both the address and a message seperated by a central line.

The other side could be a complete picture (or photograph) Prior to this (undivided back) cards were in use which allowed for address only on one side and a brief greeting on the picture side.

Multiples of lower value stamps were often used, as were stamps higher than the required amount.Stamp collectors distinguish between postcards (which require a stamp) and postal cards (which have the postage pre-printed on them).While a postcard is usually printed by a private company, individual or organization, a postal card is issued by the relevant postal authority.Some like Valentine of Dundee or GW Wilson of Aberdeen produced very large numbers of cards, covering scenes throughout Britain and elsewhere. The reverse bore a small picture leaving sufficient space to write a message.The address was written on one side of the card and the message, often very brief, was written on the other side. Here is an example form 1890, in which one Edinburgh photographer is advising another of the date of a photographic society meeting: From 1895 onwards, a size of 4.75 ins x 3.5 ins was adopted for postcards. The address,, and nothing else, still had to be written on one side of the card. In many cases the picture covered most of the card, leaving little room for the message.

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