I searched long and hard to find the least seasonal Christmas postcard I could, and they don’t come much less seasonal than this one. The addition of the words Christmas Wishes was a rather poor effort I think to turn this otherwise quite attractive postcard into a Christmas card.
Still it serves it’s purpose in allowing me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year, as well as showing off some of the most stunning scenery in Sussex.
I mentioned yesterday The Picture Postcard Show which opens in London tomorrow and lasts three days. Most postcard fairs are only one day affairs, although there are a few two-day fairs and some evening fairs. Whether they last one, two or three days postcard fairs are a great place to find postcards to illustrate your family history.
When it comes to finding out where postcard fairs are held there are two main places to look:
The Postcard Traders Association website
The Postcard Traders Association has a calendar of postcard fairs on their website. The good thing about this calendar is that you can click through and find out more information about the organiser, including contact details and possibly their website.
The main drawback with this list is that it doesn’t always get updated regularly, but it is a good starting place especially as a lot of the fairs take place on a regular basis. Also this doesn’t always feature some of the smaller fairs.
Picture Postcard Monthly
Picture Postcard Monthly magazine has a much fuller list of postcard fairs including some international ones (along with auctions and exhibitions). These usually cover the coming three months and also includes contact details for the organisers as well as indicating the number of postcard dealers likely to be attending.
As well as the list of fairs in Picture Postcard Monthly, it is also the main place where postcard fairs are advertised, as well everything else you would expect in a magazine such as news, letters and articles.
The Postcard Traders Association website has a page entitled How to Win at Fairs with advice to get the best out of your visit to a postcard fair. My own advice would be to set yourself a budget and stick to it, otherwise it could get very expensive!
The highlight of the postcard collecting calendar is the annual Picture Postcard Show, also known as BIPEX (British International Postcard Exhibition), which takes place this week, running from Thursday 1st September 2011 to Saturday 3rd September 2011.
The three-day show is held at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lawrence Hall in Greycoat Street, London and is described as “the world’s most prestigious card show”. Full details including admission prices and opening times can be found on the Postcard Traders Association website.
The Picture Postcard Show is like a normal provincial postcard fair on steroids, with a greater diversity of postcard dealers in attendance, including many from overseas. This means a greater diversity of postcards and as the website says, “some of the best cards available today”.
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like I am going to be able to make it to this year’s show, but you can read about my previous visits here and here.
It has been a while since I have been to postcard fair (although I have still been buying postcards, mostly on eBay but also elsewhere), so it was nice to get chance to visit the Postcard and Collectors Fair at The Shoreham Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex.
I was quite surprised to find the Shoreham Centre packed with people (both collectors and dealers) when I arrived, on previous visits I have found it a lot quieter, so it was good to see so many people. The Shoreham Centre is not particularly large but it is pretty convenient for me to get to, in fact a couple of years ago I walked there, it took me about four hours but I might try that again later in the year when the weather is better.
Results were mixed, as you can see from the pile of cards above there was quite a mixed bag, nine cards in all, all of which were Sussex. Three nice West Dean ones for my collection, another Beachy Head lighthouse (bought for the publisher rather than the subject) and the rest had family associations and were absolute bargains which I couldn’t resist. Expect to see some of these on this blog in the coming weeks and months.
For those interested in attending future fairs, they are organised by Beacon Fairs, and the dates for the rest of 2011 are:
- Saturday 16th April 2011
- Sunday 19th June 2011
- Saturday 15th October 2011
The postcard below is one that I have had for quite a while. It shows the ivy clad St. Andrew’s Church, West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex and a few of the headstones in the churchyard.
There is not a lot more that can be said about this postcard. The card was posted from West Dean on the 6th September 1920 and sent to Mrs C BOXALL of Brown Hill Farm, Ashington, Sussex. The BOXALL connection was naturally of interest, but from what I can find it doesn’t look like this Mrs BOXALL was a close relation.
In light of my current obsession with the parish of West Dean I have decided that I am going to start seriously collecting picture postcards of the parish. It is not that I haven’t been collecting them already, just that I haven’t been making a special effort to find them.
What makes collecting postcards of West Dean (in West Sussex) particularly challenging is the fact that not only is there another West Dean in East Sussex (as I previously mentioned), but also one in neighbouring Hampshire. From what I saw at the Shoreham Postcard Fair last Saturday most postcard dealers don’t distinguish between the eastern and western parishes, and sometimes Hampshire cards are to to be found amongst the Sussex cards. Likewise I probably should check for Sussex cards in with the Hampshire cards.
Examining postcards of an area, working out where the views were taken from and when, is a great way of learning about a place and how it has changed over the years, although of course the bulk of the postcards I am likely to find will only cover a short period of time, probably from 1900 to 1930.
Apart from learning more about the parish of my ancestors the other bonus is that my increased attention on West Dean postcards will hopefully turn up a postcard sent to (or by) one of my closer relations.
Today was the last day of the annual three day Picture Postcard Show at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lawrence Hall in London. I was up in London with my wife, pretending not to be tourists, so I had chance to pop in for a couple of hours and spend some money.
It was near the end of the third and final day when I visited, so I wasn’t too surprised to find it was pretty quiet. To be honest this made things easier for me, I was able to move from stand to stand without too much trouble, and perhaps after three day the dealers were glad to be able to wind down a bit.
The theme for this year’s displays was "London; A Capital City", but because I was pushed for time I didn’t really have time to study them closely, but there were lots of displays and many of the stands were decorated with examples of postcard artwork.
Despite my limited time I was able to come away with seven cards for my collection. Two were free souvenirs, one upon entry and one for buying something from Reflections of a Bygone Age, this second one was an excellent multi-view of the Elephant Parade.
Of the remaining five, one was relatively modern (probably 30 or 40 years old) just bought for the personal connection with my new job, the other four were much older, with family connections in one way or another and once I have scanned them they will probably be appearing on this blog. I say probably because I now have far too many postcards to blog about.
Although I was never likely to come away with any truly outstanding cards for my collection, there is after all a large percentage of national and international dealers (who will probably never have heard of the small Sussex villages I am interested in), I am nevertheless happy with what I did find and could easily have spent all day there soaking up the atmosphere and just looking at cards.
The lighthouse at Beachy Head just to the west of the town of Eastbourne, East Sussex is a well known and well photographed landmark. Naturally there is no shortage of postcards of the lighthouse and the cliffs, but this one is probably one of the finest I have seen.
This postcard was published by Valentines, but I don’t know when, probably around 1910-20. The postcard has a divided back, which dates it after 1902, which doesn’t really help because that is when the lighthouse was constructed.
This lighthouse was built as a replacement for an earlier lighthouse which stood up on the cliff top (rather than at sea level) and slightly further to the west at Belle Tout. The lighthouse was automated in 1983 and still warns off shipping, at the same time as attracting hundreds of sightseers to the cliffs above.