Thursday, 24 November 2016

So what can you learn from a postcard?

This is not as daft as it sounds because over and above what you can see, picture postcards reveal a lot about how we lived and perhaps a little of what people thought, wanted and did.

So I have decided to start with this one which was posted recently on a site by my friend Sally.

We are on Deansgate on a busy week day and the year will be 1932 or just possibly a year or so before.

Now the giveaway will be the clothes and the cars.  People far more expert than me will be able to work out possible dates from the models on the road and with the help of the registration plate’s offer up more information.

Added to this a check of the street directories for Deansgate using the names above of the shops will also offer up ranges of dates.

And if we are lucky the clincher will be the postcard manufacturer, because the big companies produced lists of when their cards were first registered.

This one was from the Valentine Company and they were trading in picture postcards from 1897 and were taken over by John Waddington in 1963 by which time the heyday of the picture postcard was over.

But for us happily Valentine’s printed the code number which was part of a batch registered in 1932.

The actual photograph may be a tad older but not by much.

For cards which were sent through the  mail there is also the post mark on the reverse which will also close the gap in dating it but again a post card sent in 1933 might have been produced a year or more  before from a photograph which was even older.

And it is the reverse which also offers up much in the has been written, including how the sender was feeling what they were doing and even sometimes a comment on the events of the day.

My own favourite was a message from young Bertha Geary who in 1911 heard and saw the Flying Man who was competing in the Daily Mail Round Britain Airs Race, a competition that this French pilot won.

Equally in another card sent from Chorlton in the same year, there are references to a successful Conservative politician re-elected and news of strikes in a year beset with them

Sadly Sally’s card was not sent and so we have lost out on some of that detail, but it remains a fince picture of a busy summer’s day in the early 1930s, and for those who know Deansgate some of what you see is still there today.

Picture; Deansgate circa 1932 from the collection of Sally Dervan

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