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Living with Postcards

Living with Postcards
This non-fiction, colour-illustrated book describes my close relationship with old postcards, mainly fantasy ones. I've been collecting them since the 1970s and now own over two thousand of these charming, beautifully quirky historical items. I started fanatically collecting them while writing my thesis on Fantasy in Postcards at art college, where I was studying for a graphic design degree. My thesis won me a first with distinction, whereas my graphic art annoyingly gained me only a 2:2. I was asked by my art history tutor to lecture on the subject of Fantasy in Postcards. As I was only twenty-one at the time, I didn't feel ready, and opted to write this book instead. All the cards in my book are from my own large collection.
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Whenever I’m lucky enough to hold any vintage postcard, I’m transported back to my late teens, when I lived and breathed postcards. I recall the time that I couldn’t sleep because I’d newly purchased a hatbox from an auction house in Jersey. It was crammed full of old postcards, three ancient postcard albums and assorted ancient ephemera. The smell of age was so seductive. I ritualistically lifted the hatbox from my bedside up onto my bedspread, opened it and lusted over the beauty and rich history lying inside. The next day, I showed my hatbox of postcards to a reluctant chimneysweep who’d come to sweep my mother’s chimney. When I looked at his puzzled, slightly wary face, he and I both knew I was addicted to postcards.


Some of my fantasy cards are mounted in frames on my kitchen wall, well protected from my cooking over the years. One wooden, glass-fronted frame is dedicated to three cards depicting a photomontage of many babies. The first card shows a woman standing among the reeds and using a large net to fish for babies in a river. The second card is called an initial card, showing a large letter N with infants’ heads peeking out from huge, white lilies that run up each side of the enormous letter. Most of the children are smiling, but some look somewhat disgruntled or bemused.


The third card in the frame on my kitchen wall depicts an old swimming pool next to what might be a boat house or double-storey changing area. Over thirty children and babies are crammed inside the strange building and over twenty are in the water. The crudity of the photomontage lends an even more bizarre quality to the card, with little care taken to ensure that the perspective is at all credible. Some of the babies would be at least a monstrous ten feet in height if perspective were to be taken into consideration.

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