Boring Postcards redux

One of my favourite artbooks is Boring Postcards by Martin Parr. It elevates the worst examples of the humble picture postcard to art. You can see my 2009 post about the book here where I gave it five stars it was that good. 

Another of the things I brought back from my Mum’s was her postcard collection.  Two big shoeboxes stuffed with every postcard she’d ever received and many, many blank ones too.  My daughter and I have been spending the morning sorting them a bit into locations.  We’ve come across many interesting ones, but the most fascinating are almost by definitition the most boring!  Here are a few for your delectation …

The Civic Centre, Plymouth which seems to have been sent to show the recipient where Guildhall is – ie behind the office tower block.

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Then below we have another civic centre or Stadhuis in this case, in Brunssum in Holland.   Dated 1981 and sent to my Mum at work from ‘R’ – very mysterious!

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Next comes the Motel des Pierrettes, 5 minutes from Lausanne in Switzerland. It always gets me that people send postcards of their hotel, when the view would be nicer – but perhaps less interesting.  Sent by my great-aunt in 1965.


The fourth card is a classic – doesn’t that just make you want to pack up everything and head down to Dorset and stay in a caravan in a crowded field in rather overcast weather?  This was to my Mum from Win – not quite sure of the family relationship, but she was off to Barrow next in 1959.

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Next a postcard from September 1954 – from Butlins Ocean Hotel at Brighton. It’s addressed to ‘Mrs Thorn’ and the other occupants of her office and it’s from ‘Ray’. This is significant, because my Mum, Mrs Thorn was just back from her honeymoon in August. The card was sent by a colleague in Brighton at a Bowls tournament.

The last pair are a little less boring but no less interesting, well to me anyway …

We have a card from Butlin’s Holiday Camp somewhere in Northern Island.  The card appears to be hand-tinted – the colours of the ballgowns standing out rather violently.  On the back my late Uncle Brian thanks my Mum for the shirt.

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And finally, a very oddly coloured card of the Salle de la Roulette in the Casino at Monte-Carlo. I chose this one as, empty, the room is strange and although ornate, rather unspectacular considering its reputation.  I imagine this room humming and full of glamorous film stars and men in tuxedos – where’s 007 when you need him?  A vintage 1960s scene, sent to my Mum at work from one of her friends.

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 Well I hope you enjoyed these works of art. I will get back to writing about books soon, although I do have some other treasures from my Mum’s archive stored up to share too.

To purchase the book mentioned from, click below:
Boring Postcards by Martin Parr

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0 thoughts on “Boring Postcards redux

  1. Yvonne says:

    My mother-in-law went through a phase of collecting postcards. This was quite a few years ago and as far as I know, she still has them all, squirreled away in the attic. So I guess that in time, we will be making the same sorts of discoveries as you have done.
    She has also kept every single greetings card that the three children and three grandchildren have ever sent her.
    Give how long this sorting out exercise has taken your family, I have a rough idea of what will be coming our way.

  2. gaskella says:

    Yvonne, it is taking a lot of work, but is incredibly interesting. I collect postcards too – although just art and architecture ones – like mother like daughter!

  3. Christy says:

    Very cool! The motel one is my favorite for the kitschy color, although the postcard of the empty casino is also strangely compelling.

    • gaskella says:

      I love your Seaford one Tom – funnily enough that was my Mum’s favourite seaside trip venue in later life – although your spoof postcard doesn’t make it look very attractive!

    • gaskella says:

      I’m loving looking at them all. The sent ones are always better than the blanks though, as they have a story to tell. It’s nice that I’ve found all the cards I sent her, so now I can date all the holidays that have become a bit vague too!

  4. Yvonne says:

    Was talking to mother-in-law and apparently she has a similar card to your ‘Butlins’ one, afew years later, and from Minehead. There isn’t much difference between them. I might even persuade her to get them down from the loft, one of these days, whilst she is still here to tell us the stories behind them all.

  5. LizF says:

    Hand tinted pictures are always fascinating – you just wonder why they let colour blind people do it though!
    My granddad travelled a lot in Europe and Scandinavia in the 1920’s when he worked in sales for a woollen mill in Batley and I have a whole box of postcards he sent back to my mum when she was very little which always fascinated me when I was a little girl because we didn’t go anywhere half as interesting!
    I particularly liked the one he sent from Switzerland with a picture of the St Bernard dogs which used to be sent out to search for people lost in the Alps and appear to have been based at a monastery!

    • gaskella says:

      They are wonderful aren’t they. I’ll be adding the family ones to my own collection certainly.

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