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on 24 April 2010
If there is one area of ephemera which captures the social history of the First World War, it must be the picture postcard, and Peter Doyle's book explores the subject thoroughly in a well researched and illustrated volume. Despite being a fairly new phenomenon (the current format of the picture-postcard dates from less than twenty years before the outbreak of the war), the postcard was quickly adopted as the ideal medium for expressing patriotism, keeping up the spirits, and conveying information.

Doyle's book shows how the card was used to reinforce morale, as a recruiting medium, to share experiences of the Home Front, and to make fun of the enemy. Perhaps the most iconic are the silk-embroidered cards, sewn in sheets by French and Belgian civilians, and sold individually to soldiers, to be sent home in envelopes. Each of these, with designs ranging from birthday wishes to regimental crests, cost usually more than a shilling, representing a day's pay, itself a symbolic figure.

The cards, with a strong, stark or colourful image, gave the recipient an idea of what to expect, and perhaps, given the restrictions on information, a subtext: the sentimental verse that masks fear, the misery and boredom of trench life behind the cartoons of Bruce Bairnsfather, the hope for a swift end to the war seen in the portrayal of warships, guns and troops. The written messages, as one should expect, seem simple, banal even: a request for pyjamas, thanks for a parcel, a note that the writer is `just off to somewhere in Flanders'. More than this would probably not have got past the censor. The field-service postcard with its `delete as appropriate' officially acceptable alternatives, which range from the optimistic to the slightly more optimistic, is parodied on a sentimental card with the words `I have received no kisses from you lately/for a long time'. For all its kitsch sweetness its most important message is the Cartesian subtext - `I am still alive'.

The extraordinary longevity of these cards, still easy to find, attests to their popularity; we can only imagine how important they were to those who originally received them.
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on 30 January 2013
Covering a wide range of the types of cards issued during and associated with the First World War from the romantic via "I am here but I can't say where but.........." and the gruesome to the bizarre. A great read and with excellent illustrations.
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on 30 October 2011
The book is a handy sized paper back that contains a lot of information for a small book!Ideal for both begginers and experienced collectors. A good buy!
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on 15 April 2014
A handy sized book which is good to pick up and read as and when you want. Also ideal for putting on display.
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on 23 March 2015
Straight to the point this is a great little book,full of useful info and photos.
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on 9 January 2016
excellent value & 1st class service
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on 4 September 2014
useful for our exhibition
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on 10 October 2013
The book is too small and so the photos of the postcards are far too small. I expected larger ones than this.
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