Vintage Italian Postcards

Monday, January 30, 2006

Postcards of bygone times hold a fascination for many of us today, this glimpse, on the front side of the customs and habits, lives and times of our grand and great grand parents, and, on the backsides, with the curiously vague postal addresses, often a name and a town would suffice, the local postal authorities knowing everyone in the area, and also knowing who would be expecting mail, and of course the messages, sometimes written upside down so that the postman wouldn’t read them when reading the address; which for many years was the only information allowed on the “address” side of the card, the messages had to be written on the pictorial side only.

And such messages, sometimes in code and sometimes with coded expressions of endearment, but more often with a simple “Hoping this finds you, as it leaves me”, an expression of good heath from the sender and good wishes to the recipient. As well as expressions of intent, on a card posted at 8am one London morning, “Ethel, I’ll be around for tea (3 – 3.30pm) with Aunt Edey. Love Augusta”. Tea, in the afternoon, of the same day! But this was when there were at least five postal deliveries in London every working day, a few years ago.

The pencilled messages from troops at the front, without stamps, franchiege ??? in Italian, sent back from ordinary men, to their ordinary wives. Both suffering in their dreary way the drudgery of seemingly endless warfare.

But, apart from the humble lives of the senders and receivers, what passions must have been aroused by pictures of the latest launching of a steamship, flights by aeroplanes, reports and photographs of wars and catastrophies, fashions, modes and hearts and flowers.

As alive today as when they were first posted these slips of pasteboard are a continuing link between them, our ancestors, and us. Their hopes and fears and their loves and lives reflect ours in so many way, but through a more delicate and perhaps naive glass, slightly discoloured by time.