Greeting cards have been in use for many generations. Early twentieth Century Greeting Cards were usually posted from, and often depicted, favourite tourist locations. There are however some examples of non-tourist locations in the views selected for this article.
During the era prior to the First World War greeting cards were available for small localities such as ordinary suburbs in Sydney. This was an era when people travelled only small distances for work and recreation. Cards were often sent to adjacent suburbs – multiple mail deliveries per day and a reliable postal system ensured effective communications in the largely pre-telephone era.
This selection of period greeting cards demonstrates the rich variety of design styles and early use of tinted colour. Some of the images are sepia or black and white. Featured in this article are cards from Leichhardt, Dulwich Hill, Marrickville, Kensington, Randwick, Manly, Balmain, Mosman and even one from George Street. Clearly Manly and Mosman were favourite tourist locations – but the same cannot be said of George St or Leichhardt !
Each card contains a topographic element for the relevant locality. Some are composites with a variety of views presented. For suburban locations principal views usually include the local post office, main street, church or public buildings, railway station or tram terminus.
Naturally these cards can act as a simple catalogue for future purchases and also give an indication of other cards in the series that are (hopefully!) out there waiting to be found.
Unfortunately not all greeting cards identify the producer or photographer. This adds an element of mystery to their origin.
The quality of greeting cards was highly variable. Some of the cards were made by well known firms of the day eg Crown Studios in Sydney or certain UK publishers.
Note the use of colour on the Balmain card. It appears very modern to contemporary eyes. This card was posted to France and survives in very good condition as it was placed in an envelope.
It is perhaps ironic that many cards sent locally survive in a poorer state than those sent abroad – the protective envelope assisting in preserving the best features of cards posted to far away places long ago.