Twitter By Post: A History Of Postcards

Dear reader! Did you know that a postcard is not just a souvenir? This small piece of thin cardstock has a long history, and the card itself reflects this. A letter without an envelope was once considered improper, but later it helped people send messages from the front lines. Nowadays, some postcards are regarded as real collector’s items.


Before the mid-19th century, people all around the world used to send letters in envelopes. Envelopes, like the postcards most familiar to us today, were often printed with images of greetings, life scenes, and humorous or festive designs. Regardless, they all served the same function — to protect the information communicated in the letter.

Historians believe that “open” letters — that is, letters without envelopes — began to periodically appear here and there since the establishment of postal services, but they were not common. Whoever heard of leaving a personal message out in the open?

Theodore Hook

However, the creator of the earliest surviving postcard sent by mail was the English writer Theodore Hook. In 1840, he sent a postcard from Fulham, an area in southwest London, and addressed it to himself. The card was discovered in 2001 in a private collection. Before that, it was believed that the first postcards appeared in Austro-Hungary and the United States. 

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