Missionary Exhibitions and Postcards.


            In the November Picture Postcard Monthly was an article by Dr Derek A. Pocock on the S.P.G Missionary cards. I have for some time been interested in Missionary cards and have about 1,400 to 1,500 of them. Missionary Exhibitions often sold Missionary cards, and these can be roughly sorted into four groups.

1.         Where a standard range of Missionary cards were used, with no printing on it to tie it to any particular exhibition, but sometimes if you are lucky a message on the back reading something like "I got this at the Missionary Exhibition in Hull". The British Empire Exhibition had several stands taken by Mission groups, and cards of the London Missionary Society are known with Wembley stamp and exhibition postmark. However the majority of these cards cannot be identified with any particular exhibition.

2.         Where the cards have a hand stamp on the back, a common one is the oval with "Africa and the East" June 8 - July 3, 1909 Royal Agricultural Hall. There is also a round double ring hand stamp with Palestine in London June 11 to July 2 1907. This one is slightly more interesting as it has movable date slugs in the centre and can be found dated for each day of the exhibition. In this class also falls cards bearing an exhibition sticker like the 1908 'Orient in London'.

3.         Many exhibitions used cards with text printed on the back of the card referring to a specific exhibition. Photochrom Co. Ltd. cards in particular are known used for several different exhibitions.

4.         The forth group is where cards were specially produced for National or Local Exhibitions, and the title is printed on the front of the card.

            I have added a lot of titles to Pococks list, which now stands as follows.


S.P.G. Missionary Cards.


Type 1.            Coloured, combination line and screened photogravure printing, with 'S.P.G. Coloured Postcard No. ...' at the top, and title at the bottom, with 'P.T.O.' in the bottom right corner. The picture is boxed in double black lines, inside a white border. Brown back, 'POST CARD' measures 44mm, 'Inland 1/2d. stamp Foreign 1d.' in stamp box.



No. 1.              Harvest Scene in Chhota-Nagpur.-Christian Villagers.

No. 2.              On the march in West Africa. The S.P.G. is about to resume the work in W.                              Africa which it began in 1751.    Vert left.

*No. 4.                        Wamira Mission School, New Guinea.

No. 3.              A Buddhist Priest in N. India.    Vert left.

No. 6.              Chinese Mandarins.


Type 2.            B/W litho printing, with 'S.P.G. Missionary Postcard No....' at the top, and title at the bottom in brown, white border. Dark green back 'POST CARD' measures 54mm, blank stamp box.



No. 26.            School Girls in S. India engaged in gymnastic exercises.

No. 32.            A blacksmiths shop worked by mission pupils in South India.

*No. 35.          A Wood Shop in South India.

*No. 36.          A Coolgardie Gold Prospector, Western Australia.

*No. 38.          A Typical Scene in West Central Africa.    Vert.

No. 45.                        A Cocoanut Palm in the South Pacific. The S.P.G. started and carried on for                             many years the work in the South Pacific which is now supported by                             the Melanesian Mission Society.    Vert right.

No. 48.                        A Burmese Lady. The S.P.G. began missionary work in Burma in 1864. There                          are 3,000 children attending Mission Schools.


Type 3.            B/W litho printing, with 'S.P.G. Missionary Postcard No....' and title at the bottom in brown, white border at bottom only. Dark green back 'POST CARD' measures 51mm, blank stamp box.



No. 58.                        Australian Aborigines. The S.P.G. is helping to support work both amongst the                          English Colonists and the aborigines in different parts of Australia.

No. 60.                        A native of West-Australia.    Vert left.

No. 61.                        Pounding corn in Corea. (This card has a perforated left side indicating it has                             come from a book of postcards)

*No. 63.          The Church at Kanghoa, Corea.

*No. 66.          Chingeng, Nikko.

*No. 67.          Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil. Japan.

*No. 68.          Japanese Pilgrims with hats, gongs & rosaries.

*No. 72.          Children at St. Faiths Mission Peking.

*No. 77.          Fijians at work making fans and hats.

Note. There is another card which may be of this type but unfortunately it has been badly cut and it is possible that 'S.P.G. Missionary Postcard No....' is missing. The title is


                        Children of different nationalities at Singapore. The S.P.G. began work in the                             district of Singapore in 1861.


Type 4.            Coloured, title in white. Brown back with 'S.P.G. Coloured Post Card No.... Series 8.' down left side, 'POST CARD.' measures 42mm, divider and top bar in double lines, 'Printed in Great Britain.' in stamp box.



            Series 8.

No. 90.                        Cascade Mountain, Alberta.

*No. 91.          A House in Fiji.    Vert.


Type unknown.           Coloured, this card has not been examined and may be type 4, 5, or a new type.

            Series 9.

*No. 108.        A Group of Dyaks.


Type unknown.           Coloured, these cards have not been examined and may be type 4, 5, or a new type.

*No. 121.        S.P.G. Mission School, Boys, Merdang, Borneo.

*No. 122.        Christian Dyaks, Borneo.


Type 5.            Coloured, combination line and screened photogravure printing. Brown back with 'S.P.G. Coloured Post Card Series 16.' down left side, 'POST CARD.' measures 40mm, blank stamp box. The title is repeated on the back with additional text.



            Series 16.

                        Chinese Mohammedans.


Type 6.            B/W combination line and screened photogravure printing, the picture is boxed in a single line, on some cards the picture is quite small to allow room for a message. In addition to the title on the front there is also text, on some cards this can be as much as eight lines. Dark green back 'POST CARD' measures 55mm, 'A half-penny stamp to be placed here' in stamp box.



                        A Clergy House in Andros, West Indies.

                        A native home in Trinidad, West Indies.

                        A native of Borneo.    Vert right.

                        Beggars at Bangkok, Siam.

                        Childrens bazaar in Burma.

                        Halt of a caravan in W. Africa.    Vert left.

                        Karen girls carrying water.

                        School girls on the East Coast (Madagascar).

                        The first native Church in Buluwayo.    Vert left.

                        Umbrella hat, Chhota Nagpur. S.P.G.    Vert left.


Type 7.            Sepia Matt R/Photo, title in white. Black back, 'POST CARD' measures 31mm with 'Greetings' underneath, 'Published by S.P.G., 15 Tufton Street, Westminster.' down left side.



                        The S.P.G. Ship 'Centurion' at Swanage.


Type 8.            Coloured, combination line and screened photogravure printing, 'Copyright S.P.G.' and title in blue at bottom. Blank back.

                        A New Epiphany


Type 9.            Coloured, details unknown.

            Series 21.

*                      Carriers in N. Borneo.

*                      Women & Children, N. Borneo.

*                      S.P.G. Mission School, Banting, Serawak. (The same view as Type unknown                           No. 121.)


            I have written to Dr Pocock asking for details of all cards marked *. At the moment I have put them in where I think they should go. If any members have any S.P.G. Missionary cards and can add to these, I should like to hear from them.


© Exhibition Study Group 1994