Christmas Postcards from the Western Front

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Silk Embroidered Postcard c1915 (accn3992/1/9 (6)

Working my way through the Erskine Hospital collection this week I came across a set of beautiful embroidered silk postcards, perfect for a Christmas themed blog!

These silk postcards first appeared at the Paris Exhibition in 1900 and became immensely popular during the First World War.  Originally hand-embroidered by women in their homes or at refugee camps, these ‘WW1 Silks’ became a unique wartime industry and as demand increased, production was moved to factories in Paris.  Batches of hand embroidered strips of silk were sent to the factories for cutting and mounting onto postcards ready to be sold.

The postcards were decorated with symbols of remembrance including forget-me-not and pansy flowers, patriotic messages, and Allied country flags and badges.  Some consisted of a piece of embroidered silk mounted onto a card, while others had the central portion cut as a flap so that a small greeting card could be inserted into a pocket behind the silk.


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Silk Postcard featuring flags of Belgium, Britain, France, Czar and Italy. Includes a small greeting card. Message on the back reads: ‘To Minnie, from David’. accn3992/1/9 (9)


They were hugely popular with British and American soldiers who bought them as souvenirs for themselves and to send home to loved ones. It has been estimated that as many as 10 million postcards were produced during the war.

Keep up to date with the Erskine cataloguing project by following us on twitter: @Erskine_100






Categories: Archive Services, Library

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2 replies

  1. Reblogged this on The Book & Paper Gathering and commented:
    A sad reflection on war and very timely!

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