Picture post cards were tweets & emails of the day

July 7, 2013
Victorian postcard

Victorian postcard

Here’s something I didn’t know. Back in Edwardian and Victorian times, mail was delivered several times a day in big cities–sometimes as many as six. Now, the postal service can’t even manage six days a week, but back then, mail was the thing. Telephones were non-existent.

The picture postcard developed as a simple way to keep in touch–and very reliable, too. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon to send a message in the morning and have a response in your postal box the very same day.  You might say the picture postcard was the email or maybe even the tweet of those times.  Travel postcards as we know them today were a later phenomenon.

Edwardian postcard scene

Edwardian postcard scene

Demand for postcards increased during those eras, which is why we see so many of them being sold in vintage online and standard shops. Bucolic scenes, like the one above were popular.



So were actresses.Victorians prized beauty. Today, this actress would have had a nose job and some cheek implants. Oh, and she sure had a lot of whites in her eyes to fit our definition of “beauty.”  And what about those dark circles? Bring on the concealer!  Of course, I think the generic perfection that we call “beauty” today is soul-less. I like the natural look of this actress and beauty much better.

dramaticpicVictorians prized flowers, which had a language all their own and were a popular theme for note cards.

ahatlady002bThis woman looks pretty formidable. A force to be reckoned with. Wouldn’t you love to see how this postcard was used?

Home-of-the-Brave-deThis lovely Independence Day card is appropriate for this time of year.

And then: Victorian pornography.

Postcards became a favorite medium for porn in those days. This is part of a several card set, in which the man asks the woman to check to see if his cravat is straight, which is a ploy to get her close enough so he can steal a kiss. Yes, saucy stuff in those days! But this one just sent me over the edge:


I think it’s the Victorian idea of S&M.  Goes to show you that you can’t repress sexual feelings too much or they come out in really, really weird ways. What is WITH that hat? Is it supposed to be hot? If you’re inclined to write a caption for this photo, do so in the Comments section below. I’d be interested to see what you come up with. The best caption will win a prize–something summery.

All very anachronistic.

One day, maybe 100 or more years from now, people will be writing about our emails and tweets in this same way: with nostalgia and a rueful laugh at how old-fashioned it all seems. I can’t even imagine what they’d say about the porn.

7 comments on “Picture post cards were tweets & emails of the day
  1. Barbara says:

    Dear Christian,
    We’re all here in the red room waiting for you. The maths practice is getting tedious, not to mention the heels are digging into one’s arse when in submissive position.
    Laters baby….

  2. “School’s out! So glad we didn’t need a spanking!”

    Thanks for sharing! Delightful post Carol!

  3. Finishing school for Courtesans.

    The Dunce must submit.

    Only thing missing is the Teacher’s Rod.

  4. Anne-Marie says:

    Doesn’t this all look so innocent compared to today’s visuals?

    To answer your question about “What’s with the hat?” This last one would be a French postcard with the word “Ane” meaning “ass”, the animal. The hat would be the equivalent of the dunce cap, also meant to embarass and punish the underperforming pupil.

    Yep, pretty heavy S&M imagery for the times!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for that translation–I don’t speak French, so this was helpful I wonder when the dunce cap got one point instead of two? And didn’t you love the series with the guy and his cravat? Very innocent, indeed, compared to hard core 21st century porn.

  5. Refreshing to see “normal”. We forget that sex and erotica have been around for many centuries! Love this post.

  6. admin says:

    Barbara, you win the best caption prize! Claim your gift soon! 😉

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