Ayrshire on a Postcard

The history of the postcards is brimming with full stops and new phrases (or phases!). This is because the postcard was not simply invented; it developed over the course of many years as people sporadically created and posted cards with messages since the postal service began.

In 1777, French engraver Demaison published cards with greetings for people to send through the post but they were not well recieved as people were wary of others reading about their personal affairs. Nevertheless, the earliest known picture postcard as we may recognise it today was sent by the writer Theodore Hook to himself in 1840. The card features a hand painted design, and was likely meant as a practical joke as his design was a caricature of postal workers.


The idea of efficient, open correspondence was put forth by many others across the decades, but due to logistics or privacy issues, the idea of postcards did not truly break through until the late 1800s. In 1869, the Austro-Hungarian post office accepted a proposal from Dr Emanuel Herrmann (a professor of Economics from Vienna) from an article he wrote in the Neue Freie Presse. His recommendation was put into practice the plain brown Correspondenz-Kartes that had just enough space for an address and a short message.


By the 1880s, many postcards began to be printed with small sketches or designs on the message side and their popularity skyrocketed around the turn of the century. Postcards became like text messages, with postal workers often doing up to 12 daily pickups and deliveries in large cities.


With technology making it easier to connect with our loved ones instantaneously, post cards no longer hold the same appeal as they once did. However, for many people, postcards are still sought after as souvenirs of happy travels and outings.


This online exhibition showcases postcards of Ayrshire throughout the decades: from popular Burnsiana, to local bucolic scenes.

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