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 Post subject: Postcards
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2017, 22:45 
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In A Future Chalet School Girl Melanie writes a letter to a friend back home and says:

Quote:
I'll be sending postcards all round but it'll have to be in small batches. P.C's cost the earth here and the postage is just as bad. Twenty-five centimes if you write a message more than five words long!


I've tried google but cannot find any examples of this. I assume it happened, and that was the way it was done, but I have never come across this outside of the Chalet School books. Can anyone tell me when postcards stopped being charged by word and instead with by the price of a stamp?

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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2017, 22:58 
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No exact dates for it stopping, but here's a real example: I've got a postcard a primary school friend sent me from France which just says something like 'Love from Caroline' on it, and which was explained to me as being because of the postage being higher for anything more than five words. The latest that card could be would be the summer of 1963.


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2017, 23:08 
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So sometime after 1963 then.

How have you managed to keep a postcard that long and not lose it??? I'm very impressed!

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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 00:35 
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I vaguely remember something like this when living in Germany in 1959. I am not sure whether it also applied in Britain though. I too have been googling without success Elle, but I will persevere!

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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 00:43 
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The girls used to send postcards home to say they'd arrived safely at the beginning of term, didn't they?

I wonder if new girls would have accidentally wrote reams and had to pay extra?


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 00:45 
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Elle wrote:
So sometime after 1963 then.

How have you managed to keep a postcard that long and not lose it??? I'm very impressed!
I collected postcards as a child, that's how!
There's some info about the rates on this site, though how reliable I don't know: here.


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 01:03 
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I have a vague feeling it used to be cheaper to send a postcard than a letter, maybe by about an old penny. Also, it could have been cheaper to send Christmas cards with the flaps tucked inside and not stuck down.

I know old style telegrams used to be charged by word/letter. I don't suppose EBD could be getting confused? I am frankly sceptical of postcards being charged by number of words although who knows?

On the other hand a friend who was in Paris for a few days in the early seventies did not post her cards until she was back in the UK because of the price.

Edited to add - read the posts here properly and have seen it did actually happen so...apologies EBD!


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 10:03 
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Is that where the famous phrase on postcards comes from?
'Wish you were here - name' (five words...)


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 10:14 
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Probably! I've certainly got a postcard in my collection with an illustration (of a family on holiday) that incorporates a number of boxes to tick about the weather, the food, etc. That would've been a godsend in the 'words restricted' period...


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 10:17 
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I've just tried Google, which knows all things :D. It appears that postcards were indeed charged at a lower rate if the message on them was no more than 5 words. Otherwise, they were classed as letters.

Quote:
The 1d price for sending a postcard lasted from 3rd June 1918 to 30th April 1940 (with the exception of between 13th June 1921 and 23rd May 1922, when it 1½d). The last date on which there was a lower rate for postcards (3d instead of 4d for a letter) was on 15th September 1968. The following day the new system of First and Second Class mail was introduced, with letters and postcards both being charged at 5d (1st) or 4d (2nd).


The 1d rate also applied if sending postcards from the UK to Europe, Egypt, Canada and the USA, but it was dearer for other destinations ... rate depending on whether the ship on which the postcard was travelling was going via Marseille, Brindisi or straight from Southampton! And a special rate for Empire/Commonwealth countries.

Obviously this was in the UK: I don't know if similar systems applied in Switzerland or elsewhere. Maybe EBD just assumed that they did?

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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 10:42 
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I'm pretty sure we had to restrict the number of words we used on postcards from Switzerland when I was there on a school trip. I think that would have been around 1963/4.


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 10:50 
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Alison H wrote:
Obviously this was in the UK: I don't know if similar systems applied in Switzerland or elsewhere. Maybe EBD just assumed that they did?
But we've had examples of elsewhere in the discussion - if EMBD didn't go to Switzerland herself (and I gather there's no indication that she did), quite likely that someone sent her a card from there that was restricted in words.


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2017, 11:56 
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Alison H wrote:
I've just tried Google, which knows all things :D. It appears that postcards were indeed charged at a lower rate if the message on them was no more than 5 words. Otherwise, they were classed as letters.


Alison, you are clearly the Queen of Google! Thank you!

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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 10 Feb 2017, 00:31 
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I remember on school trips to continental Europe at the beginning of the 1970s that postcard rates were cheaper than letter rates but the number of words were restricted. That was Belgium, Holland and France.


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 10 Feb 2017, 15:46 
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Victoria wrote:
I remember on school trips to continental Europe at the beginning of the 1970s that postcard rates were cheaper than letter rates but the number of words were restricted. That was Belgium, Holland and France.

Likewise, my sister and I went to Switzerland back in 1976 or 77 and I have a memory of the friend who escorted us telling us we could only write a short message on postcards or it would cost us more to send them home.

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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 11 Feb 2017, 13:07 
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In contrast, when I was at uni in the mid 90s my German friend would only ever send me postcards (filled from edge to edge with tiny writing!) in the holidays because they were cheaper to send than letters.

Unfortunately my dad collects stamps so every time I got a postcard I was allowed to read it once then it got put in the stamp collection :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 11 Feb 2017, 17:08 
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Audrey25 wrote:
I have a vague feeling it used to be cheaper to send a postcard than a letter, maybe by about an old penny. Also, it could have been cheaper to send Christmas cards with the flaps tucked inside and not stuck down.



Yes, it was also cheaper to send cards with the flap not stuck down. Don't know whether that was postcard rate, or when it stopped,


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 11 Feb 2017, 17:24 
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Does anyone know why? It can't have been weight or value, at least in the case of postcards, so why would it matter?


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 11 Feb 2017, 19:10 
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I've been looking into this and the reason appears to be weight. Early post office letter rates had much narrower weight bands than they do nowadays.

The earliest postcards were very thin and flimsy, and appear to have been used for business purposes. The restriction on words then seems to be an attempt by the post office to stop people using postcards instead of sending a letter (ie analogous with the people who wrote messages on the outside of the letter in the days receipients paid for the letter - you took the letter, read the message on the outside, then rejected the letter so it cost you nothing)

Once picture postcards arrived, the whole thing became a nonsense. The original weight argument disappeared but the historical "pc are cheaper than letters" lingered. The pc rate seems to have disappeared when postage rates were simplified.


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 Post subject: Re: Postcards
PostPosted: 12 Feb 2017, 10:28 
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poetress wrote:
In contrast, when I was at uni in the mid 90s my German friend would only ever send me postcards (filled from edge to edge with tiny writing!) in the holidays because they were cheaper to send than letters. :


Nowadays that's only true for within Germany. Standard letters and postcards cost the same for abroad.

I can remember the five words from the late 1960s in both France and Italy. The Italian five word ones usually arrived after we'd arrived home :lol: but the more expensive ones were a bit quicker.


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