Some of those cards today are exchanged through eBay for healthy sums, particularly if the card is one that was the creation of one of the acclaimed artists who worked in this field or as a poster illustrator during the pre and post World War 2 era. These little masterpieces recall the bygone days of luxury travel.
Postal Historians date the initial use of postcards as first appearing in 1869. They became more colourful in the early 1900’s when strict conditions by postal authorities were lifted allowing illustrations to appear more prominently on the cards.
The collection and study of cards is defined as an exact science, cartology (in the USA ‘deltiology’ and in France ‘cartophilisme’) according to Robert Wall the author of the very readable Ocean Liner Postcards in Marine Art 1900-1945.
If the subject is one that interests you, a later and equally commendable publication is A Postcard History of the Passenger Liner from the pen of Christopher Deakes. I am one of those individuals referred to in the first sentence of these notes and those cards collected all those years ago have surprisingly survived the passage of time and a number of country and house moves.
The various shipping companies used the cards to advertise their ships, and photographs of not just the vessels, but also interior images, abound. The most collectable cards were undoubtedly those that were printed in ‘glorious technicolour’.