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A Short History of Saucy Postcards

Fancy a piece of rock, cock?

Saucy postcards were all the rage back in the mid 20th Century.  They might have gone out of fashion, but we’re carrying on the tradition!

Here at DYP we like to think we’re original.  But we’re not the first to produce risqué cards.  Some of them were pretty awful.  But we admire the stand they took against uptight politicians.

Saucy Postcards

Postcards first became popular at the end of the Nineteenth Century.  The Post Office gave permission for them to be sent through the post.  And it wasn’t long before they started getting a bit racy.  By the 1930s saucy postcards at the seaside became all the rage.  Cartoons featuring stereotyped characters – the fat vicar, the drunk, the “henpecked” husband – were mixed with a liberal smattering of bawdy innuendo.

The suggestive captions never quite spelt out sex.  But it was usually implied.  And the cruder they were, the more popular.  During the 1930s they sold at a rate of knots.  16 million cards were sold a year.

Various companies produced them, with numerous cartoonist working on them.  But the biggest name was Donald McGill.  His postcards were the most popular.  And they remain the most popular as collectors’ items too.

Donald McGill

Donald McGill was born into a straight-laced “respectable” Victorian family.  At 32 years of age, he gave up a secure job to start his career as saucy postcard artist.  He continued to work til his death at 87 years.  Throughout his career, he had to fight of not only the disapproval of his family, but the law.

Saucy postcards

During the 50s the newly elected Conservative government made a stand.  They believed that these cards were so outrageous, they were undermining the moral fibre of the country.  They were determined to stamp out such obscenity.  The 1857 Obscenity Act was called upon.  Shops were raided and closed down.  Artists were arrested and tried.  They almost broke the postcard industry.  In 1954 McGill was subjected to a show trial and sentenced with a huge fine.

In 1960s government relaxed a little bit, and the postcard industry recovered.  But through the 70s and 80s, the quality of art work deteriorated.  Changing attitudes meant that people weren’t so keen on the stereotypes and sexism.  The cards saw a decline in popularity.  McGill never made a lot of money from his art.  Perhaps because he kept getting fined?

Its funny to look back on those cards and think they caused such outrage.  We’re sure we’d be up in court too if we went back to the 50s.  Society seems to realise that morals aren’t undermined by a bit of cheeky.  And aren’t we glad of that!


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Summer Sale Now On With 30% Off

Summer Sale Now on With 30% Off.

Summer Sale

We’ve got a summer sale on now with 30% off until the 1st August.

Oh boy oh boy, has it been busy round here.  You guys loved our Fathers’ Day cards so much, we’ve barely slept this month!   Just enough time to raise our noses from the grindstone, and suddenly it’s summer.  Time to kick off the flip flops (wellies).  Time to pour the gin and tonics.  Relax by the pool (well, puddle).  And … time for our big bonanza summer sale.

Use the code SUMMER16 at checkout to get 30% off til 1st August.

Summer SaleYes, it’s summer sale time and we’re feeling generous.  We’ve had our extra large G & Ts, and it’s a whole 30%.

‘Scuse us while we get back to the sun lounger.  Ahem…well, maybe not today.  And maybe not actually outdoors.  Summer is officially here though, so we’re told.  Hurry hurry, and stock up on cards.

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Who Knew Theres A Science of Swearing?

The science of swearing

Who knew there’s a science of swearing?  The main thing we all know about swearing is it’s a bit naughty.  But it seems there’s a whole lot more to it.

Just about every language and culture in the world has it’s swear words.  And they are all related to either, God and religion, or bodily functions, or sex.  Think about it.  In whatever language you prefer.  God, sex and poo!

Linguistically speaking, they’re all just a set of syllables or sounds: words.  And for most of them we use other words that aren’t taboo. (I just used one,  did you spot it?)   So if it’s not the idea behind them, why are they so taboo?

Well, Michelle Drews(1) says that taboos are formed in childhood.  That’s when we learn what’s bad, whats frowned up, what will get us into trouble.  And that message gets hard wired into our brains.  So it starts as a societal thing, and becomes a brain thing.  Words that we’ve learnt are taboo bring out an emotional response.  They trigger the fight or flight instinct.  Or at the very least, they make us feel a bit naughty.

The Neurology

There’s a bit of the brain that deals with those dangerous words.  It’s called the amygdala, and it’s linked to both fear and pleasure.  It processes all the stuff that’s taboo.  As you know, sometimes strokes affect speech.  But sometimes they can still swear.  That’s because the swear words are processed in that different bit of brain.  It’s also why some people (not all) with Tourettes swear.  The condition stimulates the amygdala more than normal.

The Psychology

Timothy Jay and Kristin Jaraschewitz (2) looked into swearing from a psychological viewpoint.  Is it bad or dangerous?  After studying swearing amongst children they concluded the words in themselves aren’t harmful.  They are just words after all.  And again, we use words that mean the same thing (fuck/make love, shit/poo, hell/heck).  But because of the taboo, they are seen as dangerous.  And so they can be used as weapons, to intimidate or harass. And that’s not a good thing.  Obvs.  Then they really become dangerous.

But there’s also a lot of positive things about cussing.  Swear words enrich a language.  They help us express ourselves.  We know that there’s times when only a swear word will do.  They can be used to get a laugh.  And they can help to indicate a relaxed atmosphere.  Swearing can help bind groups of people.  Help them feel like they belong in a group.

Oh and one last thing.  People who swear when they hurt themselves have a higher pain threshold than those who don’t.  So there you go – swearing is the new asprin!

We’re guessing since you’re here with us, you like to indulge in the odd swear word.  We’ve got a great selection of especially sweary cards for you.  But if you’re not quite sure about it, there’s stuff for you too.

Dad You’re Bloody Marvellous - Father's Day at DYP Remember_what_you_are_1024x1024 IMG_8616 IMG_8486

  • Michelle Drews, The Science of Swearing, Harvard Science Review 23.01.2014
  • Timothy Jay and Kristin Jaraschewitz, The Science of Swearing,
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We’re currently away but will be back soon!

Xmas writing 7

Just a quick note to let you know that DYP is currently away at Country Living Fairs for Glasgow and Harrogate. You are still welcome to place orders and these will be dispatched by 4th of December.

If you have an immediate enquiry then please email: hello @ and we shall endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible!


Santa wish 5

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A quick catch up

Of course you should not start a post off apologising, however I do feel I need to do so. Having been utterly rushed off of my feet I have so much to say about the past month and a bit.

Since moving into the studio (which to reaffirm I am happy to now call my studio) I haven’t stopped working. I’ve pretty much been there everyday, had an open studio day for a Vintage fair and met a lot of lovely people and asked to do some workshops. Then there are the open days still to come before Christmas.

As much as I love being busy, I do feel I need some time to absorb the amazing experiences that have been happening. I’ve met some fantastic people, who equally love their craft and have been a huge inspiration and completely supportive of my venture. Otley has such a rich history of letterpress and at the fair I met many print engineers who came to check out my press! Suffice to say they gave me plenty of advice and lots of stories!

So, I have been very busy. I’ve been hand printing images that I had made into polymer blocks. A lot of my printing plates/letterpress blocks are very old (some circa.1870), so in order to protect them I had them recast and so the modern versions can be used quite frequently. They print up beautifully too, though the new blocks have to be hand printed rather than in the press. I still set the original blocks but they’ll eventually be used as limited edition print runs, just so I can preserve them from further damage.

Most of the items I have been working on include stationery and Christmas cards, wrapping paper, tags and some smaller prints. I’ve also started experimenting with writing paper and printed envelopes, which sold out at the last open day!

So that leads into the open day. I wanted to open up the studio and sell some of my work but also get people to look around. The Vintage fair was a roaring success and I was overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the people who visited. Quite a few folk wanted to be taught how to print and bookbind, so in the new year I am planning on putting together small groups for those who want to learn the basics of printing. if you are interested, drop me an email at: doyoupunctuate @ the spaces from the ‘@’)

I’ve also agreed to have two more open studio days before Christmas, the first is this Sunday, 27th November from 9.30am until 1.30pm. It’s a shorter time than before but coincides with the farmer’s market too. So if you happen to be near by, come and drop by for a cuppa! I’m at the Courthouse in Otley and the farmer’s market is in the main square.

Once Christmas is out of the way, I’m going to spend some time just experimenting like I used too. I love winter, I love drawing inspiration from silhouetted trees and frosty shapes and so I plan on concentrating or hibernating out ideas! I’m also starting to think of Valentines but also celebrations like Burn’s Night. Robert Burns wrote some beautiful Scottish poetry that could be interpreted into a card.

Finally, I am in the midst of putting together a shop, as usual with these things I’m having to consider the drawbacks of online shopping versus real life. Especially as my work is so tactile, it is hard I guess, to convey the quality of paper and print in an image. However, I shall endeavour to overcome issues like PayPal, web templates and postage. If you feel you have any bug bears about online shopping, please feel free to let me know. I have a list a mile long but it’s always great to get other insights into these things.

Anyway, apologies for the tardiness of this post and thank you always.

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The Studio

So I have a new studio (excited giggle) and I have been documenting the process of making what was an artist’s paint studio, into a letterpress workshop. Strangely I’m not entirely comfortable calling it a workshop or a studio, instead I’ve taken to calling it ‘the room’. I suppose as I start to settle I will find something I’m comfortable to call it but for now it’s my place that I can work from.

I was very fortunate to acquire this room, and the journey to arrive at it has been a long one. I had initially started by looking at Wharfebank in Otley but was put off at the escalating price and the realisation that I was going to be extremely limited in how I could use what was essentially an office room. Anyway, I contacted The Courthouse Arts and resource centre and after some emails, telephone conversations and a look around, I fell in love and moved in last Wednesday.

I can’t describe the sheer excitement at finally having a space where I can be freely creative, answerable to no one (within reason) and have all of my press equipment out and in use. So from what started as a germ of an idea six months ago, is finally a reality and I am utterly ecstatic about it all.

The room has a wonderful vibe to it and further still, my grandad was a police sergent at The Courthouse, before it was converted into an arts centre. So I feel that this is meant to be and I really am chomping at the bit to get going.

I’ve been taking photos of making the room mine, I’ve sourced furniture from ebay and charity shops and managed to get an almost functioning workshop set up within a few days. That also includes the installation of broadband! I’ve met my lovely neighbour called Jackie, who is an illustrator and she is utterly fascinated by the work I do. In turn, Jackie makes some beautiful pictures and she has suggested we have an open studio day. I think this adventure was meant to be…

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I have been creatively restless for a while now, lots of ideas and no real way of being able to get them out and achieved. This is mostly because I have not had the time to really work out what I want to do, or how to start. It also proves even more difficult to be able to work from home, so many distractions and working from the house office or kitchen table drives my inane sense of order to distraction!

So I have been searching for an external workshop/office space where I can leave work spread out on tables, inks ready made up and walls covered in drawings and scribbles! I have found said place but (to my delight) there is a lovely lady who’s agreement runs out at the end of this month and she is retiring. She is a book binder and restorer of books belonging to the British library. She is leaving her equipment and furniture behind, so that I might possibly find a use for them .So it looks like I might have my own space at long last, it’s just the haggle of rents/rates and so forth.

I can’t tell you how excited I am, slightly daunted but so eager to finally feel like I am really going to get the press set up and really into use. Especially as I’ve been increasing my letterpress collection of recent.

There is a chap called Jamie in Covent Garden who on a Saturday and a Sunday, sells letterpress blocks for printing. I have spent a small fortune with him and whenever I’m in London, I always head there to see him. I’ve been on the look out for pirate themed blocks, also wedding styles and then anything else that takes my fancy! So if you happen to pass by, take a look and see what he has, there are some truly lovely blocks.

So whilst out and about on my travels I have been collecting  examples of type that I really liked or was drawn to. I thought I’d put them up on here. I hope you enjoy!

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Oranges and Lemons

I have found a lovely website that sells some exquisite prints. New North Prints are based in Hoxton in London and if you get a chance check out their most excellent website. I happened to have found them whilst looking for another site called Herb Lester Associates who specialise in map making. I love their design style and felt it would be rude not purchase a map or two!

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Zawga elaya

I am so excited to read this article from Dr. Chip Coakley, at Cambridge University. The double dot mark or ‘colon’ in modern English language, could have been an early question mark in Syriac texts. Syriac is an early middle Eastern language that has a large Christian literature, which fore dates Islam.


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A new return

Gosh, I’ve been away for a terribly long time. A year so the blog tells me, much to my chagrin! Anyway, I’ve got a backlog of photos and snippets I’ve collected on my journey that I need to update here with. So once I get my flickr account fixed I should be good to go.

So as a way back to the mountain of a project I’ve set myself, I have done a quick google to find out what simple searches of ‘punctuation’ are bringing up and I found the link to ‘what punctuation mark are you?’ So it would be rude not to have a go and much to my amusement, I am a ‘Colon’. So the inner child of me sniggered and thought ‘Ha! I’m an arse hole’. Well I thought it was funny.

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