These delicately embroidered postcards were sent mainly by British and American servicemen in France, as a pretty and affordable means of sending messages home. They are generally known as “WW1 Silks”. They gained in popularity during the First World War, but declined substantially from 1919 onwards (perhaps because of the bad association and memories of war) and are not found after around 1923. Most of the postcards are patriotic and feature British, French and American flags, symbols and greetings. They were apparently embroidered by French and Belgian refugee women, and then sent to factories to be mounted on the cards.
These postcards were collected from various locations around the country, and were donated to Wolverhampton Archives last year. They have since been transferred to Wolverhampton Art Gallery. The card above shows colourful flowers held in the mouths of two small birds, with stems of holly and mistletoe above. Many of the postcards had a silk mesh forming an envelope for inserts with message, in this case “To my Pal Bruce, from Daddy.”
This card has more of a war theme, with an airplane displaying “Christmas Greetings” across its wings, and the French and British flags displayed. But the cards were not just used for Christmas messages, as we also have examples of cards sent as a love token, for birthday greetings, or for other purposes.
This final Christmas-themed postcard has a floral pattern with mistletoe, and the pouch for the insert can clearly be seen on the front. It is an unfortunate fact that many of the men who sent these postcards may not have survived the War. However, the fact that the postcards were kept, and have survived to this day, is testament to how important and precious these messages from the Front were during this difficult period in history.