Once I decide on a topic for a postcard article, the writing
is relatively easy for me. Since I love conversation (especially
over a couple of beers) almost as much as I love antique postcards,
writing articles about these little cardboard gems is like having
a lively conversation with my keyboard.
Picking out a catchy title generally takes more time than
deciding on a topic for a new article, but this time around I
If you check the top right banner on the postcard shown above
in Figure 1, you'll see what I mean. The postcard not
only helped me with the title for this article, its classy design
piqued my interest in royalty postcards a few year back, and
I've been an avid collector ever since.
This card is collectible on at least two levels. Royalty
buffs will admire the excellent "real photo" portraits
of the three British monarchs in 1936 - George V, Edward VIII
(George V's eldest son and successor), and George VI (Edward
VIII's younger brother).
Historians will appreciate that the banners beneath the portraits
contain the exact dates of the accession, coronation, etc. associated
with each of these monarchs. Thus, anyone owning this card would
possess a chronological snapshot of one of the most newsworthy
events in the British Empire during the Great Depression - Edward
As mentioned, once I had the Figure 1 postcard in my possession,
royalty postcards became one of my top collecting priorities.
Since I'm a Canadiana fanatic, I first searched for royalty postcards
with Canadian connections and it wasn't long before I built up
a nice collection of Canadian-themed royalty postcards.
The postcard shown in Figure
2 is from a series published by Rotary Photo, London, England
to commemorate the coronation of George VI in 1937. What makes
this card series so special is that all the cards are hand coloured,
real photo postcards. Hand colouring was a technique used by
many postcard publishers to liven up black and white photographs
before they were re-backed and converted into postcards.
In this George VI coronation series, the hand colouring is
truly spectacular; the cards literally leap at you when you first
The Figure 2 postcard was the first postcard I obtained from
this Rotary Photo coronation series, and it certainly whetted
my appetite for more. How did I know there were more cards of
this type from Rotary Photo? With postcards, especially those
printed for special events, there are always more!
After many months of sleuthing on various internet postcard
sites, including eBay, I was able to piece together the numbering
system used for this particular series, and learned that I had
at least another 11 cards to go before I completed the set. (There
were actually two six-card series: one numbered from K.3-1 through
K.3-6; and another series from K.4-1 through K.4-6.)
next two coronation postcards I located had terrific photos of
George VI in military uniforms (Figures 3a and 3b). The
card on the left has the king on horseback as Marshall of the
Royal Air Force. This rank was established in 1919 as "Marshall
of the Air," but when George V complained that: "Marshal
of the Air impinged upon the attributes which should properly
be reserved for God," the name was changed to Marshall of
the Royal Air Force. The second card on the right shows George
VI in the traditional uniform as Admiral of the Fleet.
In addition to the uniforms and flags, there are banners
in each postcard trumpeting Canada, India, South Africa, Australia
and New Zealand. These are the same banners shown on many of
my WWI patriotic postcards. It was nice to see them used again
in the 1930s.
Valentine's Day has just come and gone, I thought I'd close off
the article with souvenir postcard of Prince Albert's (future
King George VI) and Elizabeth's (future Queen Elizabeth the Queen
Mother) royal wedding in 1923. This card was also produced by
Rotary Photo and is another wonderful royalty collectible.
Figure 1. A classy, real photo postcard by Valentine's
(formerly Valentine & Sons) showing George V, Edward VIII
and George VI. The caption along the top of the card provided
the title for this article.
Figure 2. A beautiful George VI coronation postcard
with a small portrait of Princess Elizabeth (Canada's future
queen) between her parents. The Canada banner on the left of
the George VI portrait makes this card collectible as a "Canadian
Figures 3a and 3b. Two George VI coronation postcards:
one showing him as Admiral of the Fleet and the other showing
him on horseback as Marshall of the Royal Air Force.
Figure 4. An earlier Rotary Photo postcard with portraits
of future King George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon taken at their
wedding in 1923.
you would like to learn more about postcards, in 2003, Mike
authored The Canadian Patriotic Postcard Checklist 1898-1928,
which is a full colour handbook and price guide for all Canadian
patriotic postcards in circulation in that eventful 30-year period.
His second postcard book, The W.G. MacFarlane Picture Postcard
Handbook 1902-1910, hit the streets in 2006 and focuses on the
amazing variety of postcards published by one of Canadas
most prolific early 20th century printers. Mike's latest book,
The Warwick Bros. & Rutter Picture Postcard Handbook 1903-1912,
was released in July 2007 in limited quantities.
Michael J. (Mike) Smith is an RMC graduate (Class of '77)
and ex-naval officer who has been an avid collector of Canadiana
for most of his life. His current passion is collecting and writing
about Canadian antique postcards. He is currently working on
his eighth postcard handbook. Visit postcard-directory.com/mikesmithbooks