Jane Westwood from Burntwood started collecting postcards at the age of six.

An auction to write home about! Staffordshire gran’s incredible collection of 750,000 postcards

HUNDREDS of thousands of postcards loving compiled by a Staffordshire grandmother are going under the hammer.

Yet the collection of around 750,000 individual cards is so vast, valuers estimate it might take YEARS before they can all be auctioned.

Jane Westwood from Burntwood started collecting at the age of six.

Now aged 63, she has amassed a gigantic archive dating from the early 1900s to the present day, completely filling a spare bedroom in the home she shares with husband Graham, 69.

From boxes holding 750 cards each and albums filled with 400 postcards a piece to some packed containers still to be sorted, hundreds of thousands of postcards have been catalogued into themes and locations.

Subjects include topography, transport, nautical, comic, animals, artistic, sentimental, holidays, religious, political and Edwardian photographic portraiture, with a vast number of places throughout the UK and numerous locations abroad represented – there is a veritable A to Z of London boroughs.

The collection is expected to fetch between £50,000 and £75,000, although experts at Richard Winterton Auctioneers say the archive is so comprehensive that in many respects it’s priceless.

The first auction in April includes an impressive album of London postcards ranging from Edwardian times to the 1960s, featuring all the major historical sites in the capitol.
The first auction in April includes an impressive album of London postcards ranging from Edwardian times to the 1960s, featuring all the major historical sites in the capitol.

While many of the postcards are photographic, numerous examples are hand-coloured, embossed or made from silk.

Some use real feathers to depict birds and others include shiny novelty cards with wobbly eyes – a gimmick which may feel modern yet incredibly these cards date back almost a century.

There are also greetings cards for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Remembrance, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year plus others wishing congratulations, good luck and get well soon.

Publishers include Bamforth, Raphael Tuck, J Beagles & Co, H Vertigen & Co, J Welch & Sons, Wildt & Kray, J Salmon, Rotary Photographic and many more.

The collection even stretches to a couple of 1s vintage postcard dispensers, by Falcon (Postcards) Ltd, Manchester, one of which will feature in the first auction at The Tamworth Auction Rooms on Wednesday, April 26.

Floor to ceiling: The gigantic archive completely filled Jane Westwood’s spare bedroom.
Floor to ceiling: The gigantic archive completely filled Jane Westwood’s spare bedroom.

For after 57 years of self-confessed ‘obsessive’ collecting, Jane has decided it’s time for the cards to find a new home.

“It started when I was six years old – my sister moved to Australia and send me postcards,” she said.

“I kept them and put them into a book and as I got older it became serious interest.”

After Jane and Graham married, they would scour shops for postcards while on holiday and frequent car boot sales looking for additions to the burgeoning collection.

“I would even buy a trunk load of them and then sit here in the lounge and go through the whole case one by one,” Jane added.

“It’s the fun of never knowing what we’re going to find in the bottom of a box.

“I only bought cards I liked and it did develop into an obsession – wherever I went, I didn’t look for anything other than postcards.”

The huge collection even includes a couple of 1s vintage postcard dispensers by Falcon (Postcards) Ltd, Manchester.
The huge collection even includes a couple of 1s vintage postcard dispensers by Falcon (Postcards) Ltd, Manchester.

Jane and Graham’s two grown-up children have not inherited their mum’s enthusiasm for the collection.

“I just want it all to go to someone who will appreciate them,” Jane added.

“With the money from the auctions we would like to treat our grandchildren.”

A team from Richard Winterton Auctioneers continues to carefully sift through each and every card and plans to offer elements of the collection every month, with the first lots catalogued for The Collectors Sale at The Tamworth Auction Rooms in Church Street on Wednesday, April 26, starting at 9.30am.

The April auction includes an impressive album of London postcards ranging from Edwardian times to the 1960s and featuring all the major historical sites in the capitol including Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column, Buckingham palace, Marble Arch, the Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park Corner and Horse Guards Parade.

Another interesting lot features an album of romantic French courtship postcards from the early 20th century; Japanese postcards featuring people and topography including Mount Fuji in a lacquered, concertina fold-out album; and postcards of birds created with real feathers.

Another interesting lot, pictured above, features an album of romantic French courtship postcards from the early 20th century.

The 59 cards are all addressed to a Mademoiselle Amelia Vaurat of Baignes-Sainte-Radegonde, Charente in southwest France, and all are covered in a mysterious numerical code – probably a private lovers’ cypher, pictured below.

The 59 courtship postcards are all addressed to a Mademoiselle Amelia Vaurat in southwest France and are covered in a mysterious numerical code – probably a private lovers’ cypher.

Other highlights are postcards of birds created with real feathers and 24 early to mid-20th century Japanese postcards, some hand-coloured, featuring people and topography including Mount Fuji in a lacquered, concertina fold-out album.

There is also a unique postcard album journal, pictured below, featuring 180 cards and hand-drawn maps by a man who travelled to Denmark, North Wales, the north of England and Norfolk between 1909 and 1927, with introductory notes on places visited.

This unique journal of 180 postcards and hand-drawn maps was compiled between 1909 and 1927 by a man documenting his travels to Denmark, North Wales, the north of England and Norfolk.

“It is the most wonderful, eclectic collection of postcards I have ever come across,” said Robert French, ephemera specialist at Richard Winterton Auctioneers.

“Not only has it got everything in terms of subjects from topographical to transport, it’s the sheer quality of the cards themselves and the comprehensive cataloguing and organising accomplished by Jane.

“It is very, very impressive.”

He added: “It’s almost impossible to put a price on the collection as it’s so special.

“We would expect a total in the region of £50,000 to £75,000 but in many respects it’s priceless.”

Robert French, ephemera specialist at Richard Winterton Auctioneers: “It is the most wonderful, eclectic collection of postcards I have ever come across.”
Robert French, ephemera specialist at Richard Winterton Auctioneers: “It is the most wonderful, eclectic collection of postcards I have ever come across.”

The catalogue will be online a week before the sale via our Auction Dates page.

Viewing in person at Richard Winterton Auctioneers in Church Street takes place the day before, Tuesday, April 25, from 10am-4pm by appointment – telephone 01827 217746.

For more auction information, or to book a free valuation, telephone 01827 217746 or email tamworth@richardwinterton.co.uk.

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