Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Saucy Postcards Titilating a New Audience

Henpecked husbands and buxom blondes are being brought back to life as the saucy postcards that epitomised trips to the seaside in the heyday of summer holidays are being re-launched for a modern audience.

The world famous designs, some of which were banned in their pomp for breaching obscenity rules, were created in West Yorkshire by the firm Bamforth & Co and are now being reproduced under a new licence, shortly to appear on greeting cards, sweets, fridge magnets and, perhaps appropriately, underwear.

The history of the postcards dates back to 1870 when James Bamforth, a portrait photographer opened an eponymous business in Holmfirth initially specialising in lantern slides, however it was the launch of saucy postcards in 1910 that changed the firm’s direction. They proved so popular that shortly after the First World War 20 million postcards were being sold every year and by 1960 Bamforth was the world's largest publisher of comic postcards. 

Leeds-based businessman Ian Wallace, who kept the company in Yorkshire after buying it from Scarborough printing firm Dennis when it collapsed in 2001 is behind the drive to reacquaint the public with what became a British institution.

He said: “The 40,000 images are known the world over and vie with the old Carry On films in popularity. The future is very bright for a company that looked doomed a few years ago.”

The designs are definitely from an era before political correctness became popular. One typical scene shows a couple trying to put up a windbreak on the beach. The wife says to her husband: “It’s too soft Fred, it won’t stay in, shall I hit it with the mallet?” The innuendo implied is obvious.

Wallace added: “They’re just a bit of fun, 99% of people who read them and look at them enjoy them.”

Another postcard shows a scene typical of a Bamforth postcard and one with was richly mined over the years, the nudist colony. A man at a barbecue says to a lady, “Watch out which bloody sausages you’re pricking missus!”

The appeal of postcards belongs to a different age now, with email, smartphones, social networking and tablets replacing the need to send a card from our holidays. However, the appeal of the designs that titillated British seasiders for generations has not diminished judging by the number of licensees who will be working with Bamforths going forward.

So prepare your sense and sensibilities for another Bamforth boom only this time blushing vicars, knowing wives and nudists will appear on beer glasses, mugs, coasters, bookmarks, t-shirts, pyjamas and even metal signs.

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