Collecting Jersey postcards
Why collect Jersey postcards? One of my reasons is because they reflect an age that one will never see again. Apart from the pleasure of the image, there is often the added satisfaction of an interesting message on the back. Postcards are now unofficially recognised as the fourth most popular collecting hobby. Another aspect of collecting cards is that most are still fairly inexpensive. This article will take you through the way to start collecting, where to buy cards and how to store them.
But first we will consider a brief history of collecting just Jersey postcards. I started collecting postcards back in the nineteen seventies, mainly thanks to Roy Moore, who was one of the first people to collect only Jersey postcards. Roy had a wonderful collection and was always happy to show everyone his cards. It was not long before he had a regular stream of people coming to his door and asking him if he had any duplicates. We were also fortunate that a shop opened in town called Ephemera. Vernon Mauger, who ran the shop, was always buying and selling postcards and so was assured a regular clientele. When Vernon passed away, we lost a knowledgeable and helpful person.
Other great collectors are Luke Le Moignan and Raoul Lempriere. Both these gentlemen used postcards to illustrate the many books that they have written. These books are still sometimes available and are a must for the postcard collector. Of course, other people also used postcards as a means of illustrating their books: Richard Mayne, John Jean and N Bonsor being but a few.
Then in the 1980s a book totally devoted to Jersey postcards was published. Devised by Henri Chartier and Jean-Jerome Vaupres, this book created a demand for postcards as never before. The title of the book was Recollections of Jersey, and it is now a collector's item in its own right. Other collectors that deserve mention are Helier Vibert, Ken Tait, Richard Lamerton, Frank Le Goueze and Tony Watton. After Roy Moore, Helier was one of the first to start collecting just Jersey postcards. Tony Watton started collecting when he was a boy and was the first to start collecting by publisher. Richard Lamerton has always been an avid collector, particularly of trains and ships. Ken Tait was another collector influenced by Roy Moore, as was David Jones. So the postcard scene was set by these very keen and knowledgeable people.
But it was not until the year 2000 that a serious effort was made to find out what had been the output of Jersey cards. A collector who must have a special mention at this time is Graeme Harris. He has probably the most comprehensive collection of Jersey postcards in the world. As with all postcard collectors, he is pleased to answer any questions that one may have and to talk about cards.
The late Richard Mayne's collection came on the market and the main buyers were the Le Maistre brothers, David, John and Richard. At about the same time, I decided to write a book about H G Allix, and so contacted the brothers for information. One of our mutual friends was a recent convert to Jersey postcard collecting, Ian Monins. He had the most fantastic collection of Jersey books and so collecting Jersey postcards was a natural progression.
In researching my book, I went to see Tony Watton and drew on his expertise and knowledge. And so, the six of us decided to start the Jersey Postcard Research Group. With all our extensive collections we were able to start correlating the known publishers. We met every fortnight to compare our cards and write out lists of the ones we had and who had published them. We had a major setback with the death of Richard Le Maistre. Fortunately his family decided to keep his collection intact and put it at our disposal. So the five of us decided to carry on meeting and continue with our research.
Since that time we have lost both Tony Watton and Ian Monins. Their respective collections have been sold and we have bought back as much as we can afford. David Le Maistre, John Le Maistre and I are continuing our research. The ultimate object is to deposit a list on CD-Rom of all the identifiable publishers of Jersey postcards with the Societe Jersiaise Library and the Jersey Archive.
As to advice about collecting, the first thing to do is to decide what and how you would like to collect. For example, I began by collecting the postcards of Louis Levy, LL. One of my reasons for doing so was that they were numbered, so there was a chance of collecting all the images. Beware, though, there are many LL postcards with the same number but different picture. Editor's note: The attribution of LL postcards to Louis Levy has been discovered to be entirely false. There was no photographer named Louis Levy associated with the company which produced the LL cards. As time went by I realised that there were some wonderful cards produced by other publishers, and sometimes, with no publisher at all. I then began to collect any cards that I could find.
Getting cards at that time was not difficult, and even now one can still buy many cards without too much trouble. There are several shops that sell postcards, Thesaurus in Burrard Street, John Cooper in the Market and Pat Robbe in York Street. Another source is the auctions. Sometimes Simon Drieu Auctions Rooms get cards, as do Maillard's. Do go to the Antique fairs. Throughout the winter they are held at Les Creux, St Brelade, and now and again at the Royal Horticultural and Agricultural grounds at Trinity. Car boot sales are another possibility, although very often they will keep cards for people they know.
It is important to let people know that you are a collector. Books about collecting postcards are useful. Some give lists of dealers and auctioneers outside the Island. I have mentioned collecting cards by the publisher, but that is only one way. I know several people who collect a particular parish, or even an area, for instance, St Brelade's Bay, and one person I know collects just Havre-des-Pas.
Some of the fascinating cards to collect are of the many ships that came to Jersey. This type of collecting can be extended to include other forms of transport, trains, planes, cars and even bicycles. It was the postcards sold by H G Allix that inspired me to write in 2003 a book about him and his family, The Postcards of HG Allix, published by the Société Jersiaise.
Then there are the little mysteries. I have a quantity of cards which we collectors call real photographic. These particular ones were taken by a photographer who signed his negatives W E D, and who we believe was William Edward Durham.
Finally we come to cards that show an event, these are much sought after, especially if they are dated.
Storage of postcards used to be a problem, but today one can get albums that hold 300-400 cards. I do not recommend leaving cards in old albums, because if one wishes to take them out, the corners will often get bent when returning them to the book. The albums should be kept flat as keeping them upright will twist the pages and damage the cards.
This has been my experience of collecting Jersey postcards over the last forty years. I have had a lot of fun doing so and can still get a thrill at turning up a card that I have never seen before. Our research group is going strong and in 2006 we hope to be able to share some of the results with you. Have a happy and rewarding experience collecting Jersey postcards.