If Postcards Be the Food of Love, Write On…

Trying hard to find an upbeat story to cheer you up, I’ve gone back to the tried-and-tested February formula of romance, brightening a cold February with the heat of postcard passion. For the collector, there is no shortage of material to alight on, and it’s mostly in the budget price bracket. Pride of place goes to the various designs aimed at St Valentine’s Day, which typically featured Cupid and hearts.

A beautiful embossed Valentine’s Day postcard, which was published in New York. It was posted from there on 6 February 1909. I rate this as one of the most attractive cards I’ve seen on the subject
London publishers Birn Bros made a speciality out of sets of romantic cards on specific themes, so there are five other ‘weather symptoms’ postcards in the series

Every four years, February also marked leap year; a tougher prospect for publishers because of limited sales. Some of them, including the ever-innovative Martin Anderson (Cynicus) merely overprinted existing romantic cards with the two words, a cheaper option! Aside from these two anniversaries, romance on postcards in comic and sentimental form was all the rage in Edwardian Britain, feeding an insatiable public demand for images of love, the early-20th century equivalent of television bodice-rippers.

Love in a garden, with Cupid keeping guard. Another card from Valentine, posted at Malton in September 1906
A Welsh romance on a postcard from a Scottish publisher; the appropriately named Valentine of Dundee


Romantic postcards can be found enhanced with messages written in code to avoid the prying eyes of the postman or postwoman, and a code developed as to the exact nature of a message, which was indicated by the angle at which the stamp was placed. It all makes for a collection that can be built up using an amazing range of cards designed by a multiplicity of artists.

Article by Brian Lund

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