Saucy Vintage Postcards
As a young boy growing up in the North East of England, a day at the seaside wasn’t complete without spending some time leering at the saucy postcards and giggling uncontrollably at the often bawdy, frequently crude double entendres.
Unfortunately in these days of political correctness and freely available internet porn, the saucy seaside postcard seems to have lost its appeal. Sex is no longer the taboo subject it once was and as a consequence ‘a glimpse of stocking’ is not nearly as shocking or as titillating to the sexually aware masses of today.
However, at Funky Retro, your favourite online blog, we do like to wallow in nostalgia from time to time, so we thought it would be a good idea to get resident journalist and perennial ‘dirty old man’ Albert to have a look through his secret stash of naughty postcards and give us a bit of background behind this almost forgotten art form.
BTW if bare breasted ladies and crude sexual innuendo offends you, this possibly isn’t your kind of blog post.
Bamforth & Co Ltd Collectable Postcards
Bamforth and Co Ltd, were the undisputed kings of saucy postcards, setting up base in the quaint West Yorkshire village of Holmfirth, the company designed and printed the vast majority of the colourful, bawdy cartoon postcards that proliferated every seaside resort in Britain.
James Bamforth, a suave and sophisticated, Mid-Victorian gentleman, founded the company in 1910 and at the peak of the companies success, in the 1950’s and 60’s were flooding the British coastline with 20 million saucy postcards per year.
This success however didn’t come without some controversy as Bamforths near the knuckle humour and suggestive artwork often fell foul of the Great British Censorship Board resulting in almost 150 attempted prosecutions against the company.
Banned British Seaside Postcards from the 1950's
Donald McGill was one of the most celebrated and prolific artists working at Bamforth and Co, designing over 12,000 postcards for the company during his illustrious career.
McGill’s postcards often featured an array of colourful characters including, lusty newly weds, drunken lewd middle aged men, busty, voluptuous bathing belles and naughty, perverted vicars.
Ironically it was a rather prudish ‘man of the cloth’ who, after coming across some of McGills saucy imagery, felt outraged enough to write a letter of complaint to his local newspaper outlining, the corruption of the moral fabric of the nation by this perceived purveyor of pornography.
This ‘outrage’ resulted in five seaside shops being raided by the vice squad and over 5,000 postcards being confiscated by the ‘boys in blue’.
Local Councils all over the country followed suit as the Conservative government of the time, launched what can only be described as a witch hunt, against McGill and his publisher, seizing and destroying thousands of cards under the veil of the 1857 Obscene Publications Act.
McGill faced trial at Lincoln Crown Court and was forced to plead guilty to charges brought against the then 79 year old artist.
The court case allegedly cost McGill and Bamforth’s thousands of pounds in potential lost revenue. A huge blow to the artist who reportedly only earned three guineas per design (£3.15 in today’s currency).
the Postcard Art of Donald McGill
Without doubt Donald McGill was a superb illustrator and artist, From 1904 until his death in 1962, Donald produced over 12,000 mini works of art, selling an estimated 200 million copies.
Donald McGill never got rich from his artistic endeavours but his postcards are now highly collectable and his original artwork often brings four figure sums at auctions and galleries.
Risqué French Postcards of the 1920's
Thirty years before the heavy handed victimisation of Donald McGill by Winston Churchill and his civil service sycophants, a far more insidious form of collectable erotica was titillating the population of the 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Thanks to the invention of film based photography and the proliferation of modern printing methods, the French Postcard famed for their depiction of scantily clad and sometimes naked men and women, were the height of vintage pornography of the day.
Literally sold ‘under the counter’ these risqué postcards were never designed to be sent through the post but were more like an early equivalent of Playboy magazine, sold surreptitiously at seedy bookstores and other dubious outlets.
More provocative than the saucy cartoon based innocence of the British postcard, the so called French postcards are still quite tame by modern standards and have a unique charm which makes them highly desirable and collectable.
Saucy Seaside Postcards | Slideshow
Who is Albert?
Further Reading ...
An intriguing insight into the wonderful world of Bamforth and Co. Almost 300 saucy postcards, dating from the early 1950's to the mid 1970's are featured in the books lavish 224 pages of pure nostalgia.
Stunning French erotica, focusing on vintage French postcards from 1902 to 1937. A superbly well printed book featuring postcards and prints from the personal collection of erotic art collector Alexandre Dupouy.
The first biography of legendary postcard artist Donald McGill, painstakingly researched by author and postcard collector Bernard Crossley. A great book for any illustrator or fan of British saucy postcards.