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.
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 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.
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!