Discontinued Collectibles Guide

Seaside Picture Postcards

"Weather fine, having a lovely time, wish you were here!" The message may not be collectable in itself though it did become a well worn cliche much loved by English holidaymakers. The picture postcard on which it was written is a different matter. Picture postcards became collectibles almost as soon as they were introduced in 1894.

Stewarts of Edinburgh were the first to publish souvenir picture postcards, usually depicting scenic views, notable "sights" and locations. The coming of the railways had brought places of interest within the reach of a great many more people the most popular locations being those by the sea, leading to the development of Britain’s famous seaside resorts.

The seaside holiday had been born as the revolution in travel brought about by the railways was soon followed by annual holidays with pay for masses of working people. A trip to the seaside became the favourite day out for millions as working hours shrank.

In the booming seaside resorts the trade in souvenirs blossomed resulting in many items being purchased by the trippers; items which soon became collectables. Sales of picture postcards rocketed as the ritual of sending postcards home to friends and relations became an essential part of the holiday and many were lovingly preserved in albums.

As the seaside became recognised as a place where inhibitions and social mores could be relaxed a little a new style of picture postcard emerged: The Comic Postcard. These were produced in a cartoon style featuring bawdy caricatures of stock characters such as large, bosomy ladies with weedy little henpecked husbands, shy clergymen and saucy buxom young women feigning an innocence they clearly did not possess! The risque humour was reminiscent of the old music hall. These cards flew off the shelves, especially from the early 1930s onwards.

Probably the most famous names associated with these saucy seaside postcards are those of Donald McGill, the artist responsible for more cards of this genre than any other and Bamforths of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire who published the best known examples of them. Postcards bearing these names were already the most highly sought after seaside postcards of all when they gained greater notoriety and therefore collectability value from the rather puritanical new Conservative government elected in the early 1950s.

The Government took it upon themselves to try and halt what they saw as a deplorable decline in national moral standards. The saucy seaside postcard was targeted as being in some way responsible for the decline.

In 1954 Donald McGill was prosecuted under obscenity legislation and many of his cards were banned. The ban has never been lifted but Legal opinion has it that it is now unlikely ever to be enforced again.

Some of those designs are now displayed in museums and can be found on the market. Needless to say, those particular postcards are the most collectible of all McGill’s work and indeed are probably the most collectable seaside picture postcards ever produced!

The following is a list of live auctions for "Postcards Seaside Postcards" currently listed on eBay. Hover the mouse cursor over the current price for details of postage and packaging. If you would like to see more information on a particular piece and maybe even bid on it, simply click on the item description to be magically whisked away to the wonderful world that is eBay. Alternatively you may use the search box to look for a specific piece for your collection.

Please also check out the Postcards Seaside Postcards Books, Related Dealers and Useful Resources listed at the end of this page.

Useful Resources

No resources are currently listed for Postcards Seaside Postcards. If you know of a useful website that other Seaside Postcards collectors would like to know about please email us at

Our Beautiful Sponsors