Post cards of the Festival of Britain


Bill Tonkin.

It is my intention in 2001 to publish through the Exhibition Study Group, what will be the most complete listing of Festival of Britain post cards ever attempted. At the moment this list runs to just over 70 pages, without any illustrations, and has been compiled from four of the largest collections of Festival post cards that I know to exist. Never the less there are many other large and small collections not examined, and I hope many of the blanks that now exist in the list can be filled in, as naturally I wish to make this list on publication as complete as possible.

To this effect I have prepared a questionnaire listing the many post cards that I believe may exist but which have not been recorded, in the hope that some one, some where, can confirm that the particular post card does exist, and give me the title or details where these are unknown to me. In some instances I will ask for a photo copy or scanned picture of the front and back of the post card in question.

To illustrate the sort of problem I am up against, a firm called Arjay Productions, of Doncaster published some Festival of Britain post cards and so far two cards L 14 and L 75 have been recorded. Now I cannot believe that there are 73 Arjay Festival post cards that in nearly 50 years, nobody has ever seen. Were the missing numbers used for non Festival topographical post cards, or did Arjay select two numbers out of a hat, and the other numbers were never published. A similar position arises with post cards published under the heading of Battersea Park. P T 8015 and P T 8016 exist, but what has happened to P T 801 to P T 8014, again some one may have the answer.

Even with the big firms like Valentine and Tuck there are gaps in their series and I see this as an opportunity to once and for all, try and find out just what was published in the way of post cards for the Festival of Britain.

Fletcher & Brooks in their ‘British and Foreign Exhibitions and their Postcards’ (1979) published a list of 150 titles with a further 32 numbers only, of Tuck postcards. Their Valentine listing of titles from 1 to 93 was virtually complete although in a very basic form. Ten years later in the Autumn of 1989 Fred Peskett published a list of Valentine’s Festival post cards which took our knowledge a step further without going into too much detail. The only other list of Festival post cards published as far as I am aware of, was in ‘The Festival of Britain a List of Information Sources’ by John Kirby (1993) where he was able to list just 31 post cards. My own list at the moment runs to nearly 750 Festival post cards.

It is important that all collectors who are prepared to collaborate, should check their collections, as even those with only a few Festival of Britain post cards may have in their collection that one post card that will fill a gap in the final list.

This questionnaire which runs to about 24 sheets will be sent on request to any person who collects Festival of Britain post cards, and all new information returned will be incorporated in the list. Full recognition of all help given will be acknowledged in the final publication.

The information required falls into four headings

1. Information required on any other titles. This is where a list of known titles is given but is incomplete, and further information is required to complete the list.

2. Details of all post cards required. This is where so few details are known of a particular set or publisher, that any or all information is wanted.

3. Details not required. This is where I believe all the details of this particular set or series is known, and no further information is required

4. Does this post card exist? This is where a post card may exist but a copy has not been seen amongst the collections examined so far. All that is needed here is a simple ‘yes’ if you have the post card in your collection

I have no doubt that there exists Festival of Britain post cards by publishers I have never heard of, and that are not covered by these sheets, so if any collector has such items please let me know. I hope it is in all our interests, to make this list as complete as possible.

© Exhibition Study Group 2000