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First Steps: Family Photo Postcards


Photo Postcards measure about 13.8 x 8.8cm (some variation within a cm) they were first used as a postal card in the UK about 1898, few will be that early! With the carte-de-visite and cabinet cards gradually going out of popularity after 1900, this new format fitted the need well. This was the new cheap photograph, and it could be posted directly to your friends and relatives. You could still go to a studio and have your portrait taken but now it could be produced in postcard form. The other method was to take your Brownie camera film to the chemist, who would send it away and back came postcards.

So these are not the sort of postcards that were sold on stands in shops but unique family photographs - so if you have an album with some loose in the back - do not throw them away, they do belong!

There is as yet no exact system for dating these, so it is down to the fashions, and fortunately many do have the postmark date. Some rough dates can sometimes be worked out using the printed shape where the stamp would have been stuck - this is known as the Stamp Box. Here is a website that has an A-Z of these - look through them for your shape.
Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes

Sometimes a postcard will show people who clearly belong in the 19th century, this happens when someone in the early 20th century wanted a cheap copy of an old photograph.
Ladies Fashions: From about 1900 for a few years the big puffy sleeves appear with older ladies but the younger ones wore the blouse and skirt and boater uniform. Medium size hats are common 1906-8 and large brimmed hats around 1911.

Photo postcards were very popular during the First World War with both men and ladies in uniform (soldiers and nurses) and families perhaps grouped together for the last time, naturally many of these have been preserved.

example - 2 x enlarged view

This type of photo was still being produced in the 1940s and the same size photograph persists in the 1950s.


This format was used for theatre actresses c.1904-30 that were sold everywhere and this is not a family photo, also vicars had bulk copies of their portrait made to distribute amongst their parishioners. The other common type to find is the school photo and as only a few copies were made, I do include them as family photo postcards.


When I get time I will have a go at sorting these out but for now there is a list by date on:

Roughly Date a Victorian or Edwardian Lady



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rogervaughan@blueyonder.co.uk
© Roger Vaughan 2004