... ABERCHIRDER POSTCARDS (1 of 4)
This section of the Library displays a collection of postcards of Aberchirder and around the Parish of Marnoch.
This catalogue of cards is based on Bob Peden’s private collection, together with scans kindly provided by other collectors and sources. This will be a project in progress, where any new items that turn up will be added.
In order to be a complete catalogue of benefit to postcard collectors, some fronts (picture sides) are included which may appear to be duplicated but are from cards either by different publishers or on different versions by the same publishers. This is an area of importance when dealing with the history of cards, their publishers and printers.
The first picture postcards appeared in the 1890s in a number of European countries. Germany was the leader, with a large number of printers using advanced technology to produce millions of very colourful and artistic lithographed cards.
In Britain, postal restrictions meant that continental-size postcards were not produced until 1899, but in the 1900s they became very popular among collectors. Every corner of Britain was covered and the growth of tourism helped to encourage the production of cards showing views and other subjects.
The period from around 1900 to 1918 is called the Golden Age of Postcards, when the illustrations could be in very high quality colour, although monochrome images were also common. After the First World War the majority of cards featured fairly dull sepia or black photographs of varying quality, and the collecting craze never resumed after the war.
Aberchirder and the Parish of Marnoch feature on a considerable number of cards produced mainly by or for local businesses. This collection of images – over 250 postcards - and background information covers what is currently known. All new information and ideas will be welcomed, along with scans or loans of cards not included here – or varieties of copies included here.
Local cards were produced by national and local publishers and printed not only in Britain but - in the 1900s - in Germany where better technology and cheaper prices attracted business. The views were provided by both national companies such as Valentine’s and local photographers like William Auchinachie Jr, although in many cases the sources are as yet unknown.
For details of local photographers, click here.
Brief Survey of the Postcards
Cards from the period to 1918 account for 59% of the total collection; 1919-45 19%; post 1945 22%. This of course illustrates how the years before the First World War were the Golden Age of Postcards.
Of the cards from the period to 1918, almost two-thirds are used; thereafter, around one-third. Of the used cards, those postmarked in the parish account for almost half in all periods.
For the whole period from 1900 to the present, of destinations within Great Britain, roughly half were in North-east Scotland, just under a quarter other places in Scotland and just over a quarter the rest of Britain. (In the period to 1918 10% of cards were sent overseas, mainly to the USA and South Africa, reflecting the emigration to those countries that took place in the years after 1900. Thereafter, none of the cards has an overseas address.)
Two cards by George Geddes and Gardiner – GGED 14 and GARD 01 – were both sent to the same address in “Middlesborough S.B.”, S.B. standing for South Britain, an interesting reversal of the use of N.B. to refer in earlier centuries to Scotland!
Two cards are worthy of mention as having unusual messages. One by Gammie (GAMM 21b) shows an example of reverse writing, while the Holmes card HOLM 10 is the only example of a general comic card in the collection, ‘personalised’ for Aberchirder and bearing references to local personalities.
Eight cards use six views showing premises used by local postcard publishers:
This collection is arranged as far as possible by around 25 ‘publishers’ in chronological order. This was not an easy task, as some cards give no clues as to their origin, while, if a name is displayed on a card, it may be that of a publisher, printer or retailer. Records of the firms concerned have long since been destroyed, and books on postcard collecting deal only with large national companies. A further difficulty arises from cards with no (or an illegible) postmark.
This list shows publishers of local postcards and the earliest legible postmark date seen so far:
|William Gammie, Turriff
|E Johnston, Aberchirder
|William Auchinachie Jr, Aberchirder
|W Cockburn, Aberchirder
|Lewis Smith & Sons, Aberdeen
|C S Geddes, Aberchirder
|George Geddes, Aberchirder
|J Valentine, Dundee
|James Mackenzie, Huntly
|Valentines for C S Geddes
Alex Gardiner, Aberchirder
|Anonymous 1930s (Postcard British Manufacture)
|S M Gibson, Gateshead
|Anonymous 1930s (Post Card British Made)
|George Milne, Turriff
|J Grant, Rothiemay
|Valentines for J B Rattray, Aberchirder
|W Holmes & Co, Glasgow
|Peter Grieve, Aberchirder
|Holmes for George Geddes
|1946 to present
|Wildt & Kray
|District View, Leicester
Isle of Wight
|(bought by R&A MacKenzie c. 1973)
|(bought by R&A MacKenzie c. 1979)
|Greetings Group (UK) Ltd, Dunstable
|(published in 1992)
|(published c 1998)
In the early days, many British publishers used German printers whose advanced technology and low prices made them an attractive proposition.
However large British firms such as Valentine’s of Dundee, Lilywhite of Halifax and Holmes of Glasgow soon became able to compete. As well as printing and publishing cards under their own names, they also printed cards for local retailers who supplied the photographs.
In some cases local photographers invested in their own photomechanical machines which allowed them to print multiple copies of their cards in-house – Gammie of Turriff being a local example.
In the years up to the end of World War One, the inhabitants of, and visitors to, Aberchirder and Marnoch had a choice of at least three outlets from which to buy a huge range of postcards – the Post Office, William Auchinachie’s store and a bookshop opposite the Post Office in Main Street.
The cards originated mainly in photographs taken by William Gammie of Turriff and William Auchinachie Jr and – apart from the former’s Real Photo cards – were printed by national companies. There were also cards published by firms well beyond Aberchirder which would have been on sale locally.
The following sections give brief details about the publishers accompanied by front and rear images of their postcards.
Galleries can be viewed by single images or slide shows.
Note: In some cases earliest dates may appear out of chronological order as new cards are added to the collection.
William Gammie, Turriff
From the late 19th Century William Gammie had a newsagent’s business in the Union Bank buildings in High Street, Turriff. He set up a photographic studio in 1898 and published many picture postcards of Turriff and the surrounding area. Those known have postmarks dated between 1902 and 1911.
Over the next half century he and his son, also William, took many of the old Turriff photographs which have survived, both in private collections and in the Aberdeenshire Archives. The elder William died in 1958 and his son, who took over the business, died without heirs.
Gammie’s photos were used by other postcard publishers, certainly including George Geddes, some of whose cards are marked ‘G Geddes, Aberchirder/Photo by Gammie, Turriff’.
Others also use the same photographs as appear on Gammie cards, but it is not known whether they had permission or not.
The earlier Gammie cards were collotypes produced by an unknown printer. However his real-photo cards – first advertised in October 1905 - are in a very distinctive style, which suggests he bought his own machine and printed his own cards.
Gammie himself used another photographer’s work on at least one Aberchirder card. The text on the front of GAMM 14 – Aberchirder from South - does not include the usual ‘Gammie, Photo’, and the view was in fact taken by R B Newton of Cullen – see Aberchirder Photographers.
For list of Gammie postcards, click here.
William Auchinachie Jr. Aberchirder
William Auchinachie Jr (1885-1964) was the eldest son of Aberchirder’s first Provost, William Auchinachie, who had a drapery and general merchant’s business at 8/9 The Square.
The younger William – who himself was to be Provost 1932-1947 - worked in the family business. He also developed an interest in photography, which he turned to good business use by publishing picture postcards using his own photographs.
Auchinachie employed German printers for his earliest cards which appeared in September 1904 and were advertised as “all collotype prints”. They were produced in Leipzig by C G Roeder in a style very similar to those they printed for LS&S and for George Washington Wilson. (The first George Geddes cards were also printed in Germany, by JRG.)
Auchinachie later published at least one card – commemorating the Proclamation of King George V in 1910 (AUCH 28) - in the same Lilywhite style as two published by Peter Grieve. He also followed the popular trend of turning photographs of local people or events into postcards.
For list of Auchinachie postcards, click here.
Copyright © 2002 – ADCA Aberchirder, North East Scotland.