There are postcard collections, and then there’s a collection so specific you can’t believe it exists. But it makes sense the Donald McGill Seaside Postcard Museum is around when you consider that seaside resorts and hotels became a popular tourist destination in Britain at the end of the 19th century. As a result the seaside helped in the popularity of the picture postcard. What better way to show off to your friends than with a postcard? In today’s world people post thousands of pics on facebook to let “friends” know they’re on vacation. Hmmm…I wonder what’s more annoying? Receving a postcard or looking at facebook pictures? I’ll let you decide. 🙂
Located on the Isle of Wight at the back of the Orrery Vegetarian Cafe, the museum pays homage to artist Donald McGill, who spent his life creating original designs for the then-thriving postcard industry. He created over 12,000 postcards from 1904 until his death in 1962. McGill’s saucy seaside postcards, which usually depicted cartoon characters making use of innuendo and double entendres, cover the museum’s walls and ceiling. Yes, the ceiling. There are over 2,500 of his designs in chronological order, some three dimensional, looking down at you and reflected back in the mirrored tables. The museum also focuses on the trials and tribulations that Donald experienced in the 1950s, when he was prosecuted under the 1857 Obscenity Act for producing cards deemed unsuitable for the public to see. Many postcards were destroyed as a result and retailers cancelled orders. Donald died soon after and was buried in an unmarked grave with hardly a few hundred pounds to his name (he received no royalties). Fortunately his artwork is now recognized as many of his surviving postcards fetch thousands of pounds as serious collector’s items.