Postcards from Ivybridge

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Postcards from Ivybridge

Postcards from Ivybridge

Postcards were introduced in Britain in 1870. At this time, they were issued exclusively by the Post Office and were simple plain cards with a pre-printed stamp. It wasn’t until 1894 that the Post Office permitted postcards produced by other printers to be sent through the postal system. Cards measured 4.75 inches x 3.5 inches and were known as Court Cards. Photographs were black and white or of a vignette type with edges which faded away. 

 

In 1899 the size of a postcard was standardised to 5.5 inches x 3.5 inches to bring Britain in line with other countries. Only the address could appear on one side of the card with the other side devoted to the picture and space for a message. In many cases the picture covered most of the card, leaving little room for anything else. At the time, it was considered inappropriate for personal messages to be included on something which was visible for all to read. People who wanted to include a message simply wrote a few lines around the border of the image.

In 1902 the Post Office changed its rules and permitted pictures to appear on the front of postcards and both the message and address on the reverse. The message was written on the left-hand side and the address on the right. Great Britain was the first country to allow this practice and with the inclusion of a line drawn down the middle to indicate where the message and address should be written, the name ‘divided back’ postcard was adopted.

 

The Edwardian era witnessed a huge increase in the popularity of the postcard. In a time before the telephone and greater mobility of the population, this method of communication was the obvious option for sending friends and family a quick message. Their appeal was a combination of attractive designs, cheap postage rates (half the cost of a standard letter) and extraordinarily quick delivery times, with up to six deliveries a day in large towns and cities. As printing techniques developed so postcard designs became more imaginative and colourful, often depicting landscapes, animals and even celebrities. Soon literally millions of postcards were passing through the GPO. 

Charles Smallridge

shopkeeper, photographer and postcard producer

In Ivybridge at the turn of the twentieth century, an enterprising shopkeeper and keen photographer, Charles Smallridge, developed his own local postcard business. Using what are believed to be his own photographs, his range of postcards included many images of Ivybridge, often complimented with information regarding the subject matter. The ‘Erme Valley Descriptive Series’, dated 1906, adopted this format and featured many of the landmarks of the village including:

De Ponte Hederae, or Ivybridge; The Old Bridge; The New Bridge; Station Road, Ivybridge; Weir Head; The Viaduct, Ivybridge; Ruins of St. John’s Church (landscape and portrait versions) and The Woods, Ivybridge.

 

These postcards not only provided the many visitors to Ivybridge with the ability to send a message bearing an image of the holiday destination but gave collectors of ephemera the opportunity to obtain postcards of local interest. Many of Charles Smallridge’s postcards can be found in private collections today.

Charles Smallridge was a member of a prominent family of shopkeepers in Ivybridge. His business as grocer, draper, outfitter, footwear supplier and wine and spirit merchant was conducted from his shop at 54 Fore Street.

 

A very large Smallridge family tomb exists at Woodlands Cemetery marking their standing in the village.

William Richard Gay

Another local man associated with postcards was the artist and photographer William Richard Gay. His work centred predominantly around the South Hams. Paintings of Burgh Island and Thurlestone Rock by Gay reside at the Cookworthy Museum in Kingsbridge.

 

The ‘W R Gay Series’ of postcards (carrying the words physically embossed into the card) feature many images of Ivybridge including scenes of Fore Street, scenes of Exeter Road (including The Sportsmans Arms), Ivybridge Railway Station, Ivybridge Viaduct, Stowford Paper Mill (including the fire of 1914), St John’s Church, the Congregational Church, the Woods and the Post Office. His postcards are now highly sought after and demand a premium on auction websites.

examples of the W R Gay’s Series of postcards with embossing on left hand side

examples of the W R Gay’s Series of postcards with embossing on left hand side

Local retailers and businessmen join the postcard craze …

With the postcard business booming it would appear other local businesses were keen to join in. Retailers such as William Henry Phillips, a newsagent and stationer in Fore Street; Hill & Elford, bakers, confectioners and drapers of Western Road and Herbert Fice Vincent, a builder and undertaker of Western Road, all diversified into postcards, Presumably with the lack of original photographs many postcards from local suppliers opted for the composite image format.

Deltiology  :   the study and collection of postcards

Postcard Suppliers  – the big players

Local postcard publishers were not the only ones wanting a share of this lucrative business. Many of the large national suppliers also published postcards depicting scenes of Ivybridge.

Francis Frith

Probably the most famous of all postcards producers is Francis Frith & Co of Reigate. Founded in 1860 the company originally took family and scenic photographs. By 1910 they had begun to publish postcards, becoming one the largest postcard publishers in the country.

 

The company closed in 1970 and their collection was purchased by Rothmans tobacco company. However, in 1976 the collection was relaunched and run as an independent business. The Francis Frith Collection contains literally thousands of photographs of towns and villages throughout Britain between 1860 and 1970.

Davidson Brothers of London

Davidson Brothers published toned lithographic and tinted real photo postcards between 1901 and 1911.

Woolstone Brothers

Woolstone Brothers published many subjects of postcards under various names including Milton Series, The Milton Post Card, Sellwells, Photolettes and Artlettes in the early twentieth century.

Davidson Brothers of London

Davidson Brothers published toned lithographic and tinted real photo postcards between 1901 and 1911.

Woolstone Brothers

Woolstone Brothers published many subjects of postcards under various names including Milton Series, The Milton Post Card, Sellwells, Photolettes and Artlettes in the early twentieth century.

Raphael Tuck

Raphael Tuck & Sons was started by Raphael Tuck and his wife in Bishopsgate, London in 1866, initially selling pictures and greeting cards. This later progressed to selling postcards, which was to be the most successful part of their business. In 1903, the company introduced their trademark ‘Oilette’ Series and by 1904 they had 15,000 designs. Oilettes were designed to appear as miniature oil paintings.

Raphael Tuck

Raphael Tuck & Sons was started by Raphael Tuck and his wife in Bishopsgate, London in 1866, initially selling pictures and greeting cards. This later progressed to selling postcards, which was to be the most successful part of their business. In 1903, the company introduced their trademark ‘Oilette’ Series and by 1904 they had 15,000 designs. Oilettes were designed to appear as miniature oil paintings.

Valentine & Sons Ltd
Valentine & Sons Ltd were founded in 1851 by James Valentine in Dundee, as a printing and portrait photography business. In 1896 the company began publishing picture postcards. There are many examples bearing scenes from Ivybridge. Later postcards bear the monogram JV within a circle. In the 1950s the postcard side of the business began to suffer and the company focus shifted towards greeting cards. In 1963 they were taken over by Waddington & Co. Ltd, who were sold to Hallmark Cards in 1980.

Valentine & Sons Ltd

Valentine & Sons Ltd were founded in 1851 by James Valentine in Dundee, as a printing and portrait photography business. In 1896 the company began publishing picture postcards. There are many examples bearing scenes from Ivybridge. Later postcards bear the monogram JV within a circle. In the 1950s the postcard side of the business began to suffer and the company focus shifted towards greeting cards. In 1963 they were taken over by Waddington & Co. Ltd, who were sold to Hallmark Cards in 1980.

Lilywhite Ltd

Lilywhite Ltd based in Halifax, West Yorkshire was founded by Arthur Frederick Sergeant. They began publishing postcards in 1910. They took over Arrow Series Postcards but continued to published cards using the Arrow name as well as republishing some older Arrow cards under the Lilywhite name.

Judges

Judges were established in 1902 by photographer, Fred Judge of Hastings. Initially a photographic business, they started publishing postcards in 1903.

Lilywhite Ltd

Lilywhite Ltd based in Halifax, West Yorkshire was founded by Arthur Frederick Sergeant. They began publishing postcards in 1910. They took over Arrow Series Postcards but continued to published cards using the Arrow name as well as republishing some older Arrow cards under the Lilywhite name.

Judges

Judges were established in 1902 by photographer, Fred Judge of Hastings. Initially a photographic business, they started publishing postcards in 1903.

Around the turn of the century Germany was also producing large quantities of postcards for the British market. Stengel & Co, based in Dresden, published high quality postcards and became one of the world’s major suppliers. The ‘Peacock’ Series of postcards produced by Pictorial Stationery Co., of London were also printed in Leipzig, Germany. However, with the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 supplies came to an abrupt end. The Great War not only curtailed postcard production but also heavily influenced the subject matter, with postcards now often depicting images of war.

The mood in Britain changes

Once the hostilities ceased, the mood of the nation was somewhat different. The sending of postcards seemed trivial for all those recovering from the enormous loss of life. Coupled with the doubling of the postage rate (from a ½d to 1d), postcards never really regained the popularity they once had. Other forms of communication such as the telephone were now also beginning to encroach. For many companies involved in postcard production this meant a reassessment of their business, many either changing tack or ceasing trade all together.

Postcards of course continued to be sent, and although their popularity had waned their role somewhat changed, becoming increasingly associated with the seaside holiday.

 

The humble postcard however, offers valuable information to historians and researchers. They often provide images of structures which no longer exist, such as bridges and buildings. In the case of Ivybridge, the first Railway Station which was demolished in the 1960s following its closure in 1959 and Factory Bridge which was blown up to make way for the new by-pass in the 70s. By comparing postcards of different eras, historians can study the evolution of towns and villages, whilst others can study fashion trends and modes of transport given that postcards offer a snap-shot in time.

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Postcards from Ivybridge

Postcards were introduced in Britain in 1870. At this time, they were issued exclusively by the Post Office and were simple plain cards with a pre-printed stamp. It wasn’t until 1894 that the Post Office permitted postcards produced by other printers to be sent through the postal system. Cards measured 4.75 inches x 3.5 inches and were known as Court Cards. Photographs were black and white or of a vignette type with edges which faded away.
In 1899 the size of a postcard was standardised to 5.5 inches x 3.5 inches to bring Britain in line with other countries. Only the address could appear on one side of the card with the other side devoted to the picture and space for a message. In many cases the picture covered most of the card, leaving little room for anything else. At the time, it was considered inappropriate for personal messages to be included on something which was visible for all to read. People who wanted to include a message simply wrote a few lines around the border of the image.
In 1902 the Post Office changed its rules and permitted pictures to appear on the front of postcards and both the message and address on the reverse. The message was written on the left-hand side and the address on the right. Great Britain was the first country to allow this practice and with the inclusion of a line drawn down the middle to indicate where the message and address should be written, the name ‘divided back’ postcard was adopted.
The Edwardian era witnessed a huge increase in the popularity of the postcard. In a time before the telephone and greater mobility of the population, this method of communication was the obvious option for sending friends and family a quick message. Their appeal was a combination of attractive designs, cheap postage rates (half the cost of a standard letter) and extraordinarily quick delivery times, with up to six deliveries a day in large towns and cities. As printing techniques developed so postcard designs became more imaginative and colourful, often depicting landscapes, animals and even celebrities. Soon literally millions of postcards were passing through the GPO.

Charles Smallridge

shopkeeper, photographer and postcard producer

In Ivybridge at the turn of the twentieth century, an enterprising shopkeeper and keen photographer, Charles Smallridge, developed his own local postcard business. Using what are believed to be his own photographs, his range of postcards included many images of Ivybridge, often complimented with information regarding the subject matter. The ‘Erme Valley Descriptive Series’, dated 1906, adopted this format and featured many of the landmarks of the village including:
De Ponte Hederae, or Ivybridge; The Old Bridge; The New Bridge; Station Road, Ivybridge; Weir Head; The Viaduct, Ivybridge; Ruins of St. John’s Church (landscape and portrait versions) and The Woods, Ivybridge.
These postcards not only provided the many visitors to Ivybridge with the ability to send a message bearing an image of the holiday destination but gave collectors of ephemera the opportunity to obtain postcards of local interest. Many of Charles Smallridge’s postcards can be found in private collections today.
Charles Smallridge was a member of a prominent family of shopkeepers in Ivybridge. His business as grocer, draper, outfitter, footwear supplier and wine and spirit merchant was conducted from his shop at 54 Fore Street.
A very large Smallridge family tomb exists at Woodlands Cemetery marking their standing in the village.

William Richard Gay

Another local man associated with postcards was the artist and photographer William Richard Gay. His work centred predominantly around the South Hams. Paintings of Burgh Island and Thurlestone Rock by Gay reside at the Cookworthy Museum in Kingsbridge.
The ‘W R Gay Series’ of postcards (carrying the words physically embossed into the card) feature many images of Ivybridge including scenes of Fore Street, scenes of Exeter Road (including The Sportsmans Arms), Ivybridge Railway Station, Ivybridge Viaduct, Stowford Paper Mill (including the fire of 1914), St John’s Church, the Congregational Church, the Woods and the Post Office. His postcards are now highly sought after and demand a premium on auction websites.
Local retailers and businessmen join the postcard craze …
With the postcard business booming it would appear other local businesses were keen to join in. Retailers such as William Henry Phillips, a newsagent and stationer in Fore Street; Hill & Elford, bakers, confectioners and drapers of Western Road and Herbert Fice Vincent, a builder and undertaker of Western Road, all diversified into postcards, Presumably with the lack of original photographs many postcards from local suppliers opted for the composite image format.
Postcard Suppliers
Local postcard publishers were not the only ones wanting a share of this lucrative business. Many of the large national suppliers published postcards depicting scenes of Ivybridge.

 

Francis Frith

Probably the most famous of all postcards producers is Francis Frith & Co of Reigate. Founded in 1860 the company originally took family and scenic photographs. By 1910 they had begun to publish postcards, becoming one the largest postcard publishers in the country.
The company closed in 1970 and their collection was purchased by Rothmans tobacco company. However, in 1976 the collection was relaunched and run as an independent business. The Francis Frith Collection contains literally thousands of photographs of towns and villages throughout Britain between 1860 and 1970.

 

Davidson Brothers of London

Davidson Brothers published toned lithographic and tinted real photo postcards between 1901 and 1911.

Woolstone Brothers

Woolstone Brothers published many subjects of postcards under various names including Milton Series, The Milton Post Card, Sellwells, Photolettes and Artlettes in the early twentieth century.

 

Raphael Tuck

Raphael Tuck & Sons was started by Raphael Tuck and his wife in Bishopsgate, London in 1866, initially selling pictures and greeting cards. This later progressed to selling postcards, which was to be the most successful part of their business. In 1903, the company introduced their trademark ‘Oilette’ Series and by 1904 they had 15,000 designs. Oilettes were designed to appear as miniature oil paintings.

 

Valentine & Sons Ltd
Valentine & Sons Ltd were founded in 1851 by James Valentine in Dundee, as a printing and portrait photography business. In 1896 the company began publishing picture postcards. There are many examples bearing scenes from Ivybridge. Later postcards bear the monogram JV within a circle. In the 1950s the postcard side of the business began to suffer and the company focus shifted towards greeting cards. In 1963 they were taken over by Waddington & Co. Ltd, who were sold to Hallmark Cards in 1980.

Lilywhite Ltd

Lilywhite Ltd based in Halifax, West Yorkshire was founded by Arthur Frederick Sergeant. They began publishing postcards in 1910. They took over Arrow Series Postcards but continued to published cards using the Arrow name as well as republishing some older Arrow cards under the Lilywhite name.

Judges

Judges were established in 1902 by photographer, Fred Judge of Hastings. Initially a photographic business, they started publishing postcards in 1903.
Around the turn of the century Germany was also producing large quantities of postcards for the British market. Stengel & Co, based in Dresden, published high quality postcards and became one of the world’s major suppliers. The ‘Peacock’ Series of postcards produced by Pictorial Stationery Co., of London were also printed in Leipzig, Germany. However, with the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 supplies came to an abrupt end. The Great War not only curtailed postcard production but also heavily influenced the subject matter, with postcards now often depicting images of war.
The mood in Britain changes
Once the hostilities ceased, the mood of the nation was somewhat different. The sending of postcards seemed trivial for all those recovering from the enormous loss of life. Coupled with the doubling of the postage rate (from a ½d to 1d), postcards never really regained the popularity they once had. Other forms of communication such as the telephone were now also beginning to encroach. For many companies involved in postcard production this meant a reassessment of their business, many either changing tack or ceasing trade all together.
Postcards of course continued to be sent, and although their popularity had waned their role somewhat changed, becoming increasingly associated with the seaside holiday.
The humble postcard however, offers valuable information to historians and researchers. They often provide images of structures which no longer exist, such as bridges and buildings. In the case of Ivybridge, the first Railway Station which was demolished in the 1960s following its closure in 1959 and Factory Bridge which was blown up to make way for the new by-pass in the 70s. By comparing postcards of different eras, historians can study the evolution of towns and villages, whilst others can study fashion trends and modes of transport given that postcards offer a snap-shot in time.