Lonely Planet Writer

Humorous postcard collection offers amusing glimpse into the past

While sending postcards may no longer be on holidaymakers list of priorities, one Twitter account is sharing humorous glimpses into peoples’ trips much to the amusement of its followers. Postcard from the Past, came about around 18 months ago when Twitter user Tom Jackson was having a quiet day at work. He has now amassed nearly 50,000 followers and his project has been turned into a book and exhibition.

The cover of the new book. Image by Tom Jackson

“I had some old cards from the 1960s and 1970s knocking about,” Tom told Lonely Planet. “By selecting just a small section of the message I realised that I could get a lot more fun out of the cards: funny messages got funnier, odd messages got odder and touching messages were even more poignant.”

A message from Woolacombe. Image by Tom Jackson

What intrigued Tom so much about the postcards was the combination of what he describes as the mass produced and the personal: “the front of a postcard is clearly a carefully composed, mechanically reproduced, often over-saturated and idealised view. The back, on the other hand, is always unique and personal: and it can be, funny, confessional, miserable, angry, concerned, touching… all our lives on the back of a postcard.”

Another card from the collection! Image by Tom Jackson

Tom has thousands of postcards and acquires more all the time and it is for that reason that he tends to decline offers for more from other people.

While there are many light-hearted cards in the book, there are a couple he has a particular fondness for including one showing Bournemouth Pier with the message “Paul & Graham have been fined for biting cats in the legs” and another from Loch Morlich in Scotland with the message “Lovely fishing village. We sat in our bras.”

Greetings from the Yorkshire Dales.
By the seaside. Image by Tom Jackson

Research by Gatwick Airport suggests that we are now far less likely to write postcards. In a study of 2000 people, they found that just 28% of people in the UK sent a postcard from their last holiday, compared with 70% in 1997. One in ten said that they had never received a postcard.

Tom’s new book, Postcard From the Past, features a variety of cards mainly from the 60s and 70s when millions of cards were sent as travel was more affordable.