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Great Britain: Various Misleading Early Picture Postcard Claims.  (as of 23/03/2014)

St Sunniva,   Hook,   Armitage,   Glasgow   etc.   Also 1871 Austria

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    The St Sunniva card was a full  “continental” size card, with an artist drawn picture of the steam yacht  “St Sunniva” . It was posted from Aberdeen  on 16th July 1892 to Maine, USA  The  full letter postage was paid to the USA , i.e two and one half pence=1d+1.5d stamps . (Full description given  in  April 1997 PPM ). Julian Dunn found a card from the same series for the ship St Rognvald , postmarked in Trondheim in June 1892. The world of gambling as the world of art always brings pleasure both materially and morally. All this can be felt with aristocrat free download pokies 50 lions with just a couple of clicks on your device.

 The company running these ships (The North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland, Steam Navigation Co Ltd , for more info  type “North of Scotland Orkney and Shetland ”  into Google ) had a cruise trade to Norway.  It is clear that these cards were for use in Norway, which permitted full size picture cards at that time. It just happened that this American tourist had  a spare cruise card  which she posted when she got to Aberdeen , paying the full letter rate to the USA.

 Odds and Ends    St Sunniva herself was the patron saint of Western Norway. The only other illustration I know of the S.Y St Sunniva is an artist  drawing on the address side  of a Norwegian hotel card, printed by Valentines. Given that these two ships were named after Norse saints it seems possible  that this shipping company was controlled from Norway. By the way Shetland is practically the same distance from Bergen in Norway, as it is from Aberdeen.

Conclusion:  If you paid the full UK letter rate you could post whatever you liked  in 1892, certainly including Continental   “Gruss Aus”  size cards. This full size card was clearly designed for use in Norway on the Shetland to Bergen cruise route


Theodore Hook card. P/U 14th July 1840

Hook card 1840


        Very large artist drawn card ( 200*130 mm, nearly 8*5 inches)  date stamped  14th July 1840, addressed to Theodore Hook

 The card is supposed to be a joke, but like all bad jokes is difficult to follow. The household Gods “Penates” (Post Office Officials??) are supposed to be writing Penny letters?  At  least with the 1840 Mulready envelope caricatures you can  see the point, but here….?


       The usual credit for invention of the postcard is given variously to Dr H von Stephan in Germany , Lipman in the USA or Dr E Hermann in Austria. all in the 1860’s. I feel these claims  still very much stand as they were promoting the idea of cards as a  new commercial form of communication for the general public and not as a “one-off” artist drawn  jeu d’esprit as seen here .

   In the UK,  Dennis made a sustained effort to follow up the legislation of 1894 allowing adhesive stamps to be used on his published and printed picture post cards. These cards were available and sold to the general public This was in complete contrast to this Hook “one off” which clearly was not offered for general sale to the public

  Artist drawn “one offs” have always been with us, but they lack the essential  idea of  promoting a new form of communication for everyman.

1890 Armitage Xmas Card


   This is a picture card and the postage paid is one half penny. It is lithographically printed on an official card of the time. This was perfectly legal and was often  done by commercial firms for advertising purposes.

   In the 1881 UK Census, (9 years prior to the date of  this card)  the father George Armitage was living in Kensington and his son also called George was living at Kirklees Hall near Brighouse. Possibly this card was sent from the Kensington mother and father to their son in Yorkshire. However the crest used does not appear to be the Armitage family crest. The trouble with these early printed Xmas cards is that no handwriting was allowed on the non address side, so difficult in general to find out who the sender was.

  The card has many of the attributes of the picture postcard but lacks the one essential feature for the “First” GB PPC and that is of a printer offering the picture cards to retailers for ongoing sale to the general public, who could sign them. This is  a privately produced card for a wealthy family (or company?),  not offered for general circulation. Presumably it was meant to be sent to workers and servants on the Estate and any other contacts, who could recognise the great lord’s crest.

1880 Glasgow “Printed Matter” Card.


    This card was attempting  to use the special 1/2d Printed Matter rate introduced  by The Post Office in 1870. A “half size” 1/2d stamp was introduced to facilitate this and has been used in this case. (the outline stamp box on this card is clearly of the small 1/2d size). The designation  “Post Card” was controlled by the Post Office and the ambiguous P.Card has been used here instead. Just to be on the safe side,  “Diggings” has been used instead of “Address”. The Post Office has “struck back”  with a receiving stamp on the picture side, (they were forbidden to do this on a real Post Card and by 1880, this was well understood by everybody)   No writing at all was allowed (other than the address)  was permitted for the 1/2d  Printed Mater rate. This card is a false and limited start. It would only be useful for a Valentine postcard, where there is usually  no manuscript  writing, but even here a post office receiving stamp on the design ruins the idea..

Example of correct “Printed Matter” Usage      Mike Clark has  found a  1891 Grimsby fish merchant’s supply list  printed on a postcard that was sent  using a half penny adhesive stamp. Any wording such as “Post Card” or “Address this Side” was omitted to comply with the  Post Office regulations. There was a P/O receiving stamp on the side not used for the handwritten address

   Final Conclusion: Two of these cards are privately printed cards, not for resale. Another card is an early Norwegian PPC. . The Glasgow card is more of a curiosity than anything else, attempting to exploit the 1/2d Printed Matter Rate.

      None of them are “The First British Picture Postcard”. This title still remains with E.T.W.Dennis in September 1894 with his North Bay Scarborough PPC ,(with its explicit printing of the words “post card”).  and sustained continuous Picture Postcard  activity in every year  thereafter.




 On Friday 11 Nov 2005 , Historystore Ltd  auctioned a 3 inch by 4 inch Lecture Ticket sent through the London Two Penny Post in 1828. It was suggested this might be the earliest GB postcard?



1871 Austrian card, (with address side illustration)

  This 1871 Austrian card has a drawing of a dragon around the address . The other side was left blank for a message. The postcard postage rate was 2 Kreuzer at this time. In this card a 5 Kreuzer  “letter rate”  stamp has been used . The card was registered and payment for this was evidenced with the use of a 10 Kreuzer stamp on the non address side. There is also a registration mark on the address side

Both the sender and the Post Office regarded it as a registered letter.

 The first Austrian picture postcards date from round about 1879, at least one  exists with a print of a beauty spot on the official 2 Kreuzer postcard

1771 small  hand delivered card is known ( 93*63mm=3.6*2.5 inches). The writing on the back invited Mrs Ackland, of the village of Landkey, “to drink a dish of tea tomorrow afternoon”, this was from a Mr & Mrs Baker of Barnstaple. The card was published in 1763 by H.Roberts of Holborn Clearly this was designed to be  a casual note card, delivered by hand or in an envelope, with no thought of it being posted.            (PPM Feb 2012)