Guide to the Silk Postcard Collection 1914-1919
The Australian War Memorial has a collection of approximately 500 woven, printed and embroidered silk postcards from the First World War, 1914-18. The majority of the collection are embroidered postcards.
SERIES 1: Australian Themes, 1916-1919. Description: French made silk postcards with Australian themes, such as rising sun badges, the Australian flag (usually the Blue Ensign), Australian flora and fauna and Australian patriotic messages.; SERIES 2: Woven and Printed Silk Postcards, 1914-1919. Description: Most of the woven silk cards held by the Memorial are from the series "Flames", produced by E. Deffrene, Paris 1916-1919. This series is a collection of images of destruction in French towns and villages. The Memorial holds 4 of the approximately 64 designs, which were produced in this series. The buildings are woven in shades of grey, with the backgrounds and flames in shades of red and pink.; SERIES 3: Greetings, 1914-1919. Description: General cards sent to friends and relatives. Typical images used were the swallow, the pansy (a very popular image in silk cards, its popular meaning at the time was 'you occupy my thoughts'), roses (love) and forget me nots (meaning true love, memories). Horseshoes and four leaf clovers were also popular as symbols of good luck. Remembrance was a very important aspect of these cards, many having the legends "Sweet remembrance", "Forget me not" or "Thinking of you".; SERIES 4: Greetings to relatives. Description: Greeting cards embroidered with messages for relatives such as fathers, aunts, brothers and children (mothers, wives and sisters are held in different series). As with the general greeting cards, swallows, pansies, roses, and forget me nots were popular. In some cases more masculine images, such as anchors and flags were used for cards addressed to "my dear Father" or "my dear Brother".; SERIES 5: Greetings: Wives and Sweethearts. Description: Greeting, Birthday and Christmas cards embroidered with messages for wives and sweethearts. The primary images are roses and pansies. All roses symbolize love, but certain colors of roses can take on special meanings. The most common colours used were red and pink. Red roses generally represented love. Pink roses generally represented gratitude, appreciation, and admiration.; SERIES 6: Mother. Description: Greeting postcards embroidered with messages for mothers. As with the general greeting postcards flowers, such as roses, and pansies dominate the images embroidered on the cards.; SERIES 7: Sister. Description: Cards embroidered for sisters. Flowers dominate the images used by the embroiderers, particularly pansies and roses.; SERIES 8: Birthday. Description: Embroidered birthday cards sent by servicemen to relatives. As with the greeting cards, floral themes dominate the designs on the cards.; SERIES 9: Christmas / New Year. Description: Embroidered Christmas and New Year cards. The majority of the cards have village snow scenes and / or holly. Only one card has a religious theme, with the Christmas star over a village. Robins were also a popular image used on Christmas cards.; SERIES 10: Units and Camps. Description: Cards embroidered with greetings from specific military camps, and badges of British and Commonwealth units and non military organisations - also included are some nationalist cards.; SERIES 11: Flags. Description: Collection of silk postcards which have used Allied flags as their focus. Using Allied flags within images was very popular. One of the most common methods was to embroider butterflies with their wings made up of Allied flags. Words and numbers were also embroidered with flags integrated into their design.; SERIES 12: France / Belgium. Description: Silk postcards with France or Belgium as their theme. These include souvenir postcards of towns, France and Belgium in general and postcards in French.; SERIES 13: L.W. Artlett Collection : Description: Postcards sent by 3451 Sgt Leslie William Artlett during the First World War 1914-1918, whilst on active service. The collection mostly contains silk postcards but there is also a small number of general postcards sent by Sergeant Artlett.; SERIES 14: Cpl S.H. Deakin Collection. Description: Postcards sent to and from members of the Deakin family during the First World War 1914-1918. Many were sent by 1121 Cpl Sydney Henry Deakin to his parents and siblings whilst on active service.; SERIES 15: Cpl E.E. Payne Collection. Description: No. 4294 Cpl Ernest Edward Payne 1 Pioneers Battalion, collected and sent these postcards to family, whilst on active service during the First World War 1914-1918 . The majority of the collection is made up of standard postcards (mostly scenic, but some studio portraits of friends from his unit), with around 20 silk postcards. Edition Gabriel, Paris produced similar cards but the images on these cards were printed on silk, not woven. The Memorial holds one 'Edition Gabriel' card. The printed cards have the monogram 'GE' printed on them and the image on the printed card is not as sharp as the woven Deffrene cards. On the back of the Edition Gabriel card a soldier wrote ""Hold to the light, and the glare becomes realistic"".; SERIES 16: McCaw Collection. Description: Album of silk postcards sent by friends on active service to Miss Lilian Rice during the First World War 1914-1918, before her marriage to W.J. McCaw in 1920. Also included in the album are unused hand tinted "Daily Mail Battle Pictures" postcards using images from official war photographs.; SERIES 17: Postcard Album. Description: This postcard Album was donated anonymously and contains a variety of postcards including embroidered silk postcards, scenic postcards and glamorous postcards.; SERIES 18: Druery Collection . Description: A collection of postcards sent to Mrs O. Druery during WWI.; SERIES 19: E.E. Croft Collection. Description: A collection of postcards sent to Elizabeth Ethel Croft during WWI by her fiance Private Sheedy.; SERIES 20: Bray Collection. Description: A collection of silk postcards, greeting cards and postcards sent by William Bray during the First World War to his mother and sister Constance. The collection also includes a small number of photographs.; SERIES 21: Grace Day Collection. Description: A collection of silk postcards and silk handkerchiefs sent to Grace Day. ; SERIES 22: Rose Collection. Description: A collection of postcards written and sent by Harry Rose and his family while he was serving with 62 Battalion during the First World War.; SERIES 23: Dulcie Whyte [nee Smith] Collection. Description: Collection of silk postcards that were sent home to Dulcie Smith and her mother, Mrs J R Smith, during the First World War. The postcards were sent by Dulcie's brothers, Sydney and Jack Smith. Sydney served on HMAS Australia and Jack was killed in action. There are also several postcards from Cecil Whyte who served with 91st Battalion and was wounded at Polygon Wood. SERIES 24: Heazle Collection. Description: Collection of silk postcards that were sent by Gus Heazle to his wife Florence and son Michael during the First World War.; SERIES 25: Thompson Collection. Description: Collection of silk postcards sent to Addie Thompson by her brothers George and William Thompson during the First World War. There are also humourous postcards included in this collection.; SERIES 26: Farrar Collection. Description: Collection of silk and other postcards relating to 5265 Private John William Farrar, 31 Infantry Battalion, AIF. The set includes those sent between John and his wife Rene, brother 7708 Private George Farrar, 9 Infantry Battalion, AIF, and other family members and friends. The collection includes a variety of silk postcards as well as examples of postcards decorated with embossing, glitter and ribbon, others depicting a tourist theme, and photographs of family and possibly the collector. There are also a small number of greeting cards.; SERIES 27: Pritchard Collection. Description: Collected by Emily Pritchard and her husband Robert during the First World War. The couple with their two sons Robert Jnr and Richard, resided in Sydney, Australia. The Pritchards would often let rooms to the sons of families they knew, from Wales and north England. Many of these boys later served in the First World War and sent postcards to the Pritchards. The collection includes six postcards from 2139 Private Albert Victor Bretherton MM, 19 Battalion, who later died of wounds on 9 October 1918 in France. There is also a card sent by 819 Private Norman Henry Crank, 19 Battalion, later killed in action at Bullecourt, France, on 3 May 1917. This collection comprises silk postcards, portraits, battle scenes and scenic postcards.; SERIES 28: Maddigan Collection. Description: A collection of ten postcards sent to members of the Maddigan family during the First World War. Most of the items were sent by brothers , 386 Lieutenant Corporal Walter Thomas 'Wal' Madigan, 1 Battalion and 5876 Private Harold John 'Jack' Maddigan, 17 Battalion. Private Jack Maddigan later died of wounds on 14 May 1918 in France. There were two spellings of the family surname 'Madigan' and 'Maddigan'. The collection comprises silk postcards and floral postcards. SERIES 29: Thornton Collection. Description: A collection of nine postcards sent to Tom and Emma Thornton during the First World War. Most of the items were sent by family friend 'Roddy' from the Front. Item 10/29/2 was sent by Tom's brother 3457 Private Lawrence Edward 'Larry' Thornton, 3 Machine Gun Battalion. The collection comprises silk postcards.; SERIES 29: Thornton Collection. Description: A collection of nine postcards sent to Tom and Emma Thornton during the First World War. Most of the items were sent by family friend 'Roddy' from the Front. Item 10/29/2 was sent by Tom's brother 3457 Private Lawrence Edward 'Larry' Thornton, 3 Machine Gun Battalion. The collection comprises silk postcards.
Woven silk postcards were first produced in Krefeld, Germany in 1898 as a combination of printed postcards and large woven silk pictures, known as Stevengraphs. The early cards were woven on machines. Being machine made, the woven cards always maintained a high standard. Embroidered silk postcards were first made in 1900 for the Paris Exposition. The popularity of silk postcards peaked during the First World War 1914 - 1918. A thriving cottage industry began around 1915 and the quality of the early silks was quite high. However later, to satisfy demand, the workmanship was often not quite as high. Postcard companies began to employ women to produce silks on a rough assembly line basis. The cards were generally hand embroidered on strips of silk mesh with as many as 25 on a strip. They were mostly embroidered by French women in their homes and then sent to the factories for cutting and mounting on postcards. Some postcards were made with little envelopes which could contain a smaller card with a sentimental message. Production continued steadily through World War I, declining substantially in 1919, until ending around 1923. An estimated 10,000,000 hand made cards were produced from 1915 to 1919. Several themes became popular. The main themes were: Family; Remembrance; Liberty; Unity; Souvenirs of France and Belgium; Souvenirs of the war; Regimental badges and crests.
Contact Senior Curator, Published & Digitised Collections, Australian War Memorial.
Open - Contact Senior Curator, Published & Digitised Collections, Australian War Memorial.
Selected additional and related material available at http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/ using the search terms described under 'subject _local'. Copies of many items from the Memorial's collections may also be purchased @ http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/sales/.
Embroidery; First World War; Silk Postcards; Souvenirs