Remembering World War I – The Links With Home
REMEMBERING WORLD WAR I – THE LINKS WITH HOME
Picture postcards were the early twentieth century equivalent of today’s smart phone. Although completely outclassed in terms of speed and subject to the rigours of military censorship, they could be sent virtually from the front line – the perfect medium for linking the soldiers overseas with their families and sweethearts at home.
Postcards were a well- established means of communication before 1914 as the wide range of seaside and holiday cards available to collectors testify. As the war progressed, the number of cards produced with a military theme and for different purposes was quite extraordinary. A card collector could quite easily specialise in sentimental, satirical, patriotic, comical or realistic themes and still fill several albums. Cards were produced singly or in sets, in colour or black and white, as photographs or lithographs, paintings or drawings.
The speed with which cards could be produced was exceptionally fast. On the 16th December, 1914, German warships bombarded several towns on England’s NE coast. Within 48 hours a photo card showing a shell-damaged house in Scarborough appeared for sale with the caption: “This is what the Hun did 3 days ago.”
Our late treasurer, Laurie Dale, was an avid collector. One of the themes of his collection was Popular Songs. These were often produced in sets with four different pictures and one or two different verses on each. The accompanying set of “Little Grey Home in the West” is such an example.
There will undoubtedly be several readers who have or are still postcard collectors. Someone may be inspired to become a collector through reading this article. Go to www.worldwar1postcards.com (which will open up the world of postcard collecting to you) and read the story of “Bubbles” to learn how a famous painting became an advertisement for a brand of soap and then was adapted to produce a satirical postcard.
Acknowledgements: Marie Dale for “Little Grey Home in the West”
Tasman Kete Waimea South Collection