Postcards - Tom Bartlett


Postcard Collecting

Deltiology, the study and collection of postcards, became popular at the beginning of the 20th century, when no household would be without its postcard album or albums. At that time, there were few forms of home entertainment and in rural areas, no gas or electricity! Sundays were church days, when some people would go up to three times. The collecting of postcards was a popular hobby for adults and children alike.

The first plain postcards were introduced in Austria in 1869, Britain followed in 1870. Picture postcards were not introduced here until 1894. Known as Court cards, these were smaller than today's, with a space left on the picture side for a short message, and only the address allowed on the back. The first split back card, allowing the address to be written on the right and the message on the left, came in this country in 1902, starting the Golden age of world-wide postcard collecting, which lasted until the start of the First World War in 1914.

Tom has published five books of his cards:

  • Volume I - Saunton, Ilfracombe, Lynmouth
  • Volume II - Barnstaple and Around
  • Volume III - South Molton and Around
  • Volume IV - Barnstaple and Around [II]
  • Ilfracombe - Postcard Views

Other than Volume II - Barnstaple and Around, copies of Tom's books are still available.


Tom, with an older brother and two sisters, was born in Harrow, Middlesex, on the 30th December 1940, when the sky was lit up from the massive bombing of London by Germany in the Second World War. He was educated first at Welldon Park Primary School and then at Harrow County Grammar School, leaving when he was sixteen.

His first job was as a Junior Clerk in the West End of London. But, a year later. at the age of seventeen and together with a friend, he set off to hitch hike across Europe, taking in nearly all the countries including Norway, Sweden, Finland and St. Petersburg in Russia. To finance their trip, the boys worked and whilst working in Itzehoe, North Germany, Tom met his future wife, Inge. They were married several years later in September 1962, with ceremonies in both Harrow and the church in Lägerdorf, near Itzehoe.

Their first home was a top floor flat in Ealing but in 1964 they moved to an eight-bedroomed guest house in Ilfracombe, which they ran for many years.

It was here they brought up their three children: Angela, a graphics designer, who lives in Singapore with her husband Jainal and Tom and Inge's grandchildren, Omar and Lyana; Caroline, who lives with her husband Otto in Bermuda where she owns and runs a Beauty Salon; and Roland, also a graphics designer, who lives in Germany with his wife, Jessica.

Tom and Inge soon became involved with the local community, Tom joining the Lions Club and he is still a long-standing member of the Rotary Club of Ilfracombe, acting as their President in 1988-89.

In 1965, Tom joined Elastogran, a branch of B.A.S.F. as a Lab Technician. By the time it closed in 1979-1980, he had been promoted to General Manager and had represented the company at and been President of the North Devon Manufacturers Association.

1973 saw the family move to Berrynarbor, to Tower Cottage, previously home to Tom's parents.

Following the closure of Elastogran, Tom took on various tasks and jobs, for many years assisting the Haines family at Watermouth Castle and working on publishing five books of his postcards, which he had begun collecting in the early 1970's, building up a varied and enviable collection and giving many illustrated talks to clubs and groups in North Devon and beyond.

Apart from his interest and involvement with postcards and his involvement in the village, Tom, and Inge, are keen gardeners, his particular love being roses of which there is a fine collection, their garden at Tower Cottage is a delight!

January 2022

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