English Parish Church Postcards

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History

The modern British pictorial postcard is part of a tradition stretching back to September 1894. This is the date that the Royal Mail first permitted the sending of illustrated cards (the US postal service was delivering postcards by 1870). Publishers already had material to draw upon, since the famous Francis Frith (1822 to 1898), for example, had been busy recording locations in Britain since the 1850s. His ambition was to photograph every town and village in the land, plus all the churches, stately homes, etc. His work was carried on by his sons after his death in 1898. By this time 40,000 glass negatives were in the collection and these views were to be seen on many postcards well into this century. Frith postcards were sold through some two thousand tobacconists and newsagents throughout Britain.

Dating Frith's postcards to 1940

Postcards up to number 18520 were taken prior to 1886. From 1886, the starting number for each subsequent year is as follows:

Number Year Number Year Number Year
18521 1886 51142 1904 71721 1922
19500 1887 53180 1905 73333 1923
20475 1888 55341 1906 75416 1924
21450 1889 57201 1907 76667 1925
22421 1890 59460 1908 79014 1926
28140 1891 61298 1909 79313 1927
29865 1892 62187 1910 80652 1928
31590 1893 63077 1911 81599 1929
33315 1894 64058 1912 82990 1930
35040 1895 65149 1913 83725 1931
37121 1896 66516 1914 84911 1932
38962 1897 67714 1915 85424 1933
40804 1898 67868 1916 86015 1934
42852 1899 67894 1917 86471 1935
44900 1900 68020 1918 87164 1936
46320 1901 68796 1919 87845 1937
48082 1902 69357 1920 88252 1938
49125 1903 69918 1921 88855 1939

… and for 1940 the starting number was 88958.

When the business resumed after World War II, it changed to a new numbering system based with an alpha code for each town, followed by a number e.g. WKG23 = Wokingham, photo number 23. Unfortunately, this number provides no clue as to the date of the photograph, which was occasionally written on the photographic print. To further complicate matters no central record was maintained of the titles for the 250,000 photographs taken in this period. Until a photograph is scanned and data entered, the only way to see what is available has been to manually search through the individual photographs.

Dating Valentine's postcards to 1933
Number Year Number Year Number Year Number Year
5703-6970 1886 27716-29905 1898 63675-67335 1910 85758-87533 1922
6971-7838 1887 29906-32484 1899 67336-71994 1911 87534-90916 1923
7839-10669 1888 32485-34736 1900 71995-74351 1912 90916-93924 1924
10670-11787 1889 34737-36696 1901 74352-78117 1913 93925-97656 1925
11788-13888 1890 36697-38587 1902 78118-80289 1914 97657-200960 1926
13889-15716 1891 38588-41858 1903 80290-81248 1915 200961-203804 1927
15717-17983 1892 41859-46436 1904 81249-81430 1916 203805-205864 1928
17984-19945 1893 46437-52518 1905 81431-81507 1917 205865-208470 1929
19946-22929 1894 52519-57070 1906 81508-81538 1918 208471-211448 1930
22030-23957 1895 57071-60252 1907 81539-83204 1919 211449-215545 1931
23958-25792 1896 60253-61013 1908 83295-84629 1920 215546-219417 1932
25793-27715 1897 61014-63674 1909 84693-85757 1921 219418-224430 1933
Dating early 20th century postally used postcards by their stamps

Postal charges for postcards

1 October 1870 ½d
3 June 1918 1d
13 June 1921 1½d
29 May 1922 1d
1 May 1940 2d
1 October 1957 2½d
17 May 1965 3d

Dating early 20th century postally used postcards by their stamps

1880 - 1900 (Victoria)
½d deep green SG164 14 October 1880
½d pale green SG165 14 October 1880
½d slate-blue SG187 1 April 1884
½d vermillion SG197 1 January 1887
½d (orange-vermillion) SG197e 1 January 1887
½d blue-green SG213 17 April 1900
1902 - 1911 (Edward VII)
½d dull blue-green SG215 1 January 1902
½d blue-green SG216  
½d pale yellowish-green SG217 26 November 1904
½d yellowish-green SG218  
½d dull yellow-green SG267 3 May 1911
½d dull green SG268  
½d deep dull green SG269  
½d pale bluish-green SG270  
½d bright green SG271 6 November 1911
½d dull green SG279 30 October 1911
½d deep dull green SG279a  
1911 - 1912 (George V)
½d pale green SG321 22 June 1911
½d green SG322 22 June 1911
½d bluish-green SG323  
½d yellow-green SG324  
½d bright-green SG325  
½d bluish-green SG326  
August 1912 (George V)
½d pale-green SG334  
½d green SG335  
1 January 1912 (George V)
½d deep-green SG338  
½d green SG339  
½d yellow-green SG340  
August 1912 (George V)
½d green SG344  
September - October 1912 (George V)
½d green SG 346 (October)
½d yellow-green SG347  
½d pale-green SG348  
1912 - 1924 (George V)
½d green SG351 January 1913
½d bright green SG352  
½d deep-green SG353  
½d yellow-green SG354  
½d very yellow (Cyprus) green SG355 1914
½d blue-green SG356  
1d bright-scarlet SG357 8 October 1912
1d vermillion SG358  
1d pale rose-red SG359  
1d carmine-red SG360  
1d scarlet-vermillion SG361  
1½d red-brown SG362 15 October 1912
1½d chocolate-brown SG363  
1½d chestnut SG364  
1½d yellow-brown SG365  
August 1913 (George V)
½d bright-green SG397  
1d dull-scarlet SG398  
February 1924 (George V)
½d green SG418  
1d scarlet SG419  
1½d red-brown SG420  
1934 - 1936 (George V)
½d green SG439 19 November 1934
1d scarlet SG440 24 September 1934
1½d red-brown SG441 20 August 1934

The collection

The collection of postcards of English parish churches now numbers over 8,349 and is kept in 60 "Collecta" postcard albums, each containing a maximum of 40 leaves (160 postcards).

County CCC No County CCC No
Bedfordshire BDF 44 Leicestershire LEI 72
Berkshire BRK 175 Lincolnshire LIN 236
Buckinghamshire BKM 148 London LND 69
Cambridgeshire CAM 74 Middlesex MDX 264
Cheshire CHS 157 Norfolk NFK 219
Cornwall CON 322 Northamptonshire NTH 124
Cumberland CUL 82 Northumberland NBL 86
Derbyshire DBY 125 Nottinghamshire NTT 72
Devon DEV 493 Oxfordshire OXF 180
Dorset DOR 152 Rutland RUT 12
Durham DUR 92 Shropshire SAL 88
Essex ESS 325 Somerset SOM 364
Gloucestershire GLS 210 Staffordshire STS 108
Hampshire HAM 301 Suffolk SFK 244
Herefordshire HEF 65 Surrey SRY 379
Hertfordshire HRT 133 Sussex SSX 605
Huntingdonshire HUN 30 Warwickshire WAR 184
Isle of Man IOM 10 Westmorland WES 48
Isle of Wight IOW 100 Wiltshire WIL 166
Kent KEN 564 Worcestershire WOR 133
Lancashire LAN 316 Yorkshire YKS 780
Total 8,349

The language of stamps

A few of the postcards in the collection have a footnote which makes reference to a "possible language of stamps". In Victorian and Edwardian times love letters were censored by the lovers' families. Fortunately, Post Office regulations did not direct the placement and orientation of postage stamps allowing a secret "Sweetheart Code" to be developed by means of which the correspodents could indicate their affections by placing and orientating the stamp on the postcard or envelope in accordance with that Code:

Language of Stamps

Language of Stamps

James Joyce makes passing reference to the Code in Ulysses, which Joyce started writing in 1906 but which he did not finish until February 1921. The entire 732-page work takes place on Thursday, 16 June 1904 and the following short excerpt is from the inner thoughts of Molly Bloom …

"I near jumped out of my skin I wanted to pick him up when I saw him following me along the Calle Real in the shop window then he tipped me just in passing I never thought he'd write making an appointment I had it inside my petticoat bodice all day reading it up in every hole and corner while father was up at the drill instructing to find out by the handwriting or the language of stamps singing I remember shall I wear a white rose and I wanted to put on the old stupid clock to near the time he was the first man kissed me under the Moorish wall my sweetheart …"

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