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.