The first postcard was sent on 1st October 1869 in Austria and like all early postcards, it was blank, with room on one side for a message, and on the other side for an address. In England, postcards were banned until 1894. The first pictoral postcards in England were of paintings by Alfred Robert Quinton. His scenes, which are of a time in England and Wales long gone, make these postcards very valuable today.
Ian Collings showed a selection of postcards which belonged to his father, Ernest (Ernie) Collings. Ernie didn't collect postcards as a hobby, but simply kept those he came by. Many of them are over 100 years old.
Ernie was born in England in 1894. His parents died when he was young and he was raised in an orphanage. When he was sixteen he went to work with his Uncle Albert (Bert) in his shoe repair shop in Thatcham, Berkshire. Bert's shop is now an Indian Restaurant, but Ernie kept as souvenirs, wonderful postcards of the shop, with himself and his Uncle standing outside. These postcards were probably used for advertising.
In 1911, Ernie migrated to Australia, coming via Cape Town but during World War 1, his Uncle Bert needed help in his shop and paid for his return to England. On this trip, his ship travelled via the Panama Canal.
Bert joined the British Army and so Ernie did likewise. They served together in the 1st Tank Corps. A postcard sent from Bobbington, where they were stationed, to an Aunt who lived in Thatcham, is signed from "Bert & Ernie."
After the war, in 1921, Ernie decided to return to Australia. This time his voyage took him through the Suez Canal. Postcards acquired on his travels include pictures of Cape Town and of the construction of the Panama Canal.
Postcards from Ernie's days in England include cards called 'Lost Chords.' These may have appealed to Ernie because of his love of music. The musical / religious scenes were accompanied by a verse of a hymn.
Possible because of his upbringing in an orphanage, he kept postcards which showed the 5 large buildings which made up the Orphanage of Dr. George Muller, in Bristol. Muller was a German criminal who escaped to England. He was converted by the Evangelical Revivalists, Sankey and Moody, and went on to build his orphanage which housed and fed thousands of children.
Following Ernie's return to Australia in 1921, his postcards are mostly of Victorian scenes, which have been posted with Victorian stamps, not Australian. They include street scenes showing buildings such as the Melbourne Town Hall, Coles Book Arcade, and one of Flinders Street Railway Station. On the reverse of the latter, the message reads: " . . . meet you at 8 pm. tonight, under the clocks." This depicts a time when there was a postal delivery 3 times a day and postcards were used to send messages, like we use text messages today.
The street scenes show the transition from horse drawn vehicles to cable cars, trams and automobiles. Many buildings in Melbourne had verandas and posts. Ladies wearing long dresses, and gentlemen in hats, seem to jaywalk everywhere.
There are postcards outside of Melbourne: pictures of St. Kilda Beach, Railway Pier, Bendigo, One Tree Hill and Ballarat. Ernie kept a beautiful postcard depicting the Eureka Stockade. The message on a postcard of Melbourne University, dated 1908, states: " . . . it is a nice place, but such an awful distance from town."
Postcards performed the role of Xmas and New Year cards.
Some postcard's messages illustrate how times have changed. One begins: "Dear wife" and another, sent to Ian's grandmother, when she was 16, says: " . . . have bought you a lovely pair of scissors." A message to a Melbourne taxidermist reads: " . . . hope you have received the spectral owl - please stuff and advise me of cost." Whilst another probably shows how life has not changed. It reads: " . . . very busy - no time to write."
Contributed by Jan Hanslow (PPPG Member No. 1057)
Postcards were shown as being a very good source of background information about the places where our ancestors used to live. Information was given about Card Fairs that are held by the Australian Cartophilic Society Inc. These Fairs are held at Our Holy Redeemer Catholic School, Cnr. Mont Albert Road & York Street, Mont Albert. They are held from 10.00 am. to 3.00 pm. on Sundays with meetings scheduled for 23 May 2010; 25 July 2010; 24 October 2010 and 5 December 2010. Admission by $ 3.00 donation. Enquires 9803 4396 and 9723 3835.
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