Have you seen the Museum's amazing postcards?
For the second part of our new series on the treasures from Manchester United's historical archive, we’d like to share with you some of the best items from the Museum’s postcard collection.
Collecting postcards, officially known as deltiology, is one of the world’s most popular hobbies, along with stamp and coin collecting. The club’s museum holds nearly 250 postcards in its archive, and we've dug out some of the rarest and most interesting ones.
EDWARDIAN TEXT MESSAGE
The arrival of the divided postcard in Britain in 1902 – the design we’re all familiar with today, with a separate space for the address and message on the back – kickstarted the pan-European craze with millions of postcards sent each year.
Cheap postage and guaranteed same-day delivery turned postcards into important means of communication for the Edwardian society. Sent to his wife from Portsmouth, the postcard photographed above features Billy Meredith and his fellow United players Charlie Roberts, Harry Moger, Robert Bonthron, Clem Beddow and Richard Wombwell, along with the message reading:
“All being well, shall be back Sunday night about 6 o’clock, lovely weather here. Regards, Will”
With advertising taking much of the space at the back of the card, it was still very common to write messages at the front, as seen here on this postcard from the Welsh winger.
COLLECTIBLE AND PROMOTIONAL
The early 20th Century saw the hobby of collecting postcards depicting important events, beautiful landscapes or remarkable architecture taking off with the speed of light.
Aware of this new craze, commercial photographers of the Edwardian era began printing their images as postcards to appeal to a wider market. Sold in local shops, many postcards were bought without the intention to be posted, like the series of ten postcards we have in our collection showing photos from the official opening of Old Trafford. Purchased by the club back in the 1990s, the collection offers a fascinating insight to what it was like to watch a game back in 1910.
A valuable source of historical information, postcards like the one pictured above also provide a snapshot of what Old Trafford looked like when it first opened its doors. The image used on the postcard was taken by Manchester-based photographer R. Banks, and shows the Main Stand, now Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, in its full splendour together with proud club officials getting ready for the first match.
Designed by renowned stadium architect Archibald Leitch, Old Trafford cost over £62,000 to construct and, when opened, it featured the country’s most modern facilities, including a private press box, gymnasium and a billiard room. With its innovative curved design, the stadium could hold up to 80,000 fans, including 12,000 seated in the covered Main Stand, pictured above.
The beginning of the 20th Century saw the introduction of fast and affordable printing technology, which allowed people to personalise postcards with their own photos. With many photographers flooding to the seaside resorts, there were plenty of opportunities for holiday-makers to turn their postcards into souvenirs.
Produced using a photo taken in Blackpool during one of the team’s regular training trips, the postcard shows the full Manchester United squad together with trainer John ‘Jack’ Pullar. Featuring players’ autographs on the back along with a message reading “With the compliments of the Manchester United F. Club. Blackpool October 20th, 1921” the postcard was most likely kept as a souvenir before being given to a local fan or a hotel proprietor as a keepsake.
HOLIDAY TRADITIONWith limited access to personal cameras, postcards also provided a unique opportunity to travellers to share a snapshot of their surroundings with the loved ones. One of the most treasured postcards in our collection is the one sent by George Best to his parents while on tour with Manchester United youth team in Switzerland in 1964.
Complete with a stamp, which was very often removed to be added to a separate stamp collection, this rare postcard handwritten by George reads:
“Dear Mum & Dad,
Just settling down to bed. We play in tournament in morning. Weather here is brilliant. Food isn’t too good. The girls are fabulous. We play our first match in morning at 9:30. Is now Wed night 11 o’clock. Give my love to Carol, Babs, Julie and Grace,
Your loving Son,
Having made his United debut at the beginning of the 1963-64 season, young George travelled with the youth team to Switzerland to compete in the Blue Stars Youth tournament, now know as FIFA Youth Cup. Despite losing the tournament to Arsenal on penalties, the tour was deemed a success by manager Matt Busby, who saw it as a highly valuable experience.
This amazing postcard sent by Best is a true gem in our museum collection. Full of detail, one can almost picture the teenage star-to-be writing it in his hotel room.
To see our amazing collection in person, book your visit to the Museum & Stadium Tour at Old Trafford.