Today at my visit to the Bristol Record Office search room I looked at the ‘Postcards relating to shops and trade’ category. It includes a great set of portraits of shop/trade owners pictured in front of their businesses.


Rock Bottom storesHaircutting and ShavingT.J.Hill

What occurred to me after my visit today, was the depth of information and detail this collection contains. This has also come up in my conversation with one of the volunteers (Becky), that there is so much scope for researchers within the collection. For myself and the residency there are many paths I could explore. That fact becomes more pertinent when I realise that each visit I am only viewing a small percentage of what the collection contains. The collection allows one to focus in on such detail. For example, I am coming across notes/annotations on the reverse of the cards (see below). In this case, it could be from the hand of the original purchaser of the card, it could be a note made by Roy Vaughan, equally it could be a note made by a postcard dealer.

Art class_messageArt class

The image below of S.A.Spiller Tobacconist and Newsagent includes advertising boards with various news headlines; Grocers Suspect, Soap Trust, Release of the Suffragists, Strike riots in Canada 50 wounded, Springboks’ win, Railway disaster in Yorkshire. 

S.A.Spiller tobacconist & newsagent

It fascinates me that one postcard in a collection of 8,000-10,000 contains a wealth of historical detail that opens a door into the social and political landscape of the time the image was created.

When confronted with a vast collection, what does one focus on, what does one chose to shed light on, and what ultimately gets left behind.