Postcard Pillar 95


Pillar 95 cover

ISSUE 95 (April 2012)


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New Zealand Postcard Society (Inc) Directory

Patron Geoff Potts
President Jeff Long
Vice-Presidents Laurence Eagle
Diane McKoy
VP Research Bill Main
Secretary Jenny Long
Treasurer Ross Alexander
Sales Mgr/Auctioneer Chris Rabey
Editors Jeff Long & Laurence Eagle
Committee Geoff Pots
John Eccles
Donal Duthie
Bruce Isted
Leo Haks

Life Members: Yvonne Coles, William Main, Geoff Potts, Chris Rabey, Doug South, Evie South

The Postcard Pillar is produced four times a year under the editorship of Jeff Long and Laurence Eagle. Contributions are very welcome at any time - please email or post to Jeff Long.

Membership of the Society can be obtained by sending a cheque payable to N.Z. Postcard Society Inc to the Secretary, with your name, address, telephone number, email address and collecting interests. The subscription for an individual or family member is $35, or $30 if paid by 30 September 2012, and $45 for an overseas member, or $40 if paid by 30 September 2012.

Editorial: Many thanks to those of you who have sent in contributions. Remember to keep them coming, preferably in electronic format, but it is perfectly fine if this is not possible. The main aim is to get your words and pictures and ideas out to our membership. In this issue we have significant contributions from Derek Pocock, the late Des Hurley, Diane Mckoy, and Jenny Long.

2012 NZ Postcard Society Convention & Blenpex 2012

This year the Convention will be held in Richmond (near Nelson) on 6th and 7th October, the week before the Blenpex exhibition on 12th to 14th October. An excellent opportunity to attend both events! We have booked a nice venue in Richmond where we can both meet and eat, and an interesting speaker has been arranged. Blenpex will have postcard classes and we expect a large number of exhibits, so it will be worth your while to attend. You may have noticed that the Editors have been making some subtle suggestions about exhibiting yourself, by providing examples of types of exhibits from members. This continues in this Pillar, and there will be at least one more.

Have you made your travel and accommodation bookings yet ??

Cover illustration

This edition’s cover picture is from Derek Pocock’s article on the picture postcards of the Melanesian Mission. See pages 3-9.

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From our recent meeting of the Committee

Most members of our Committee were recently able to meet in Wellington for a few hours of planning. You will be pleased to know that the subs will remain unchanged for next year. Most discussion at this meeting centred around postcard publications. As already notified, Leo Haks is working away on a large publication about NZ postcards. Those of you who were able to view his similar book on the picture postcards of Indonesia will know that we have something special to look forward to. Leo plans to produce this book himself, but the Committee has agreed to support this venture in a variety of non-financial ways. Recent flood damage in Nelson has delayed the initial publication date, bur Leo assures us that none of his postcards suffered any damage !

If you have any subjects Leo listed in the last Pillar which you think may be useful, please contact Leo (see Directory for details).

The Committee also discussed Bill Main’s suggestion of a publication about the postcards of Muir and Moodie. Looking back over past issues of the Postcard Pillar, this has been on the wishlist for at least a decade. More on this later when we have worked through the details with those going to be most heavily involved. In the meantime, if you think you may have something significant to contribute, please contact Jenny Long, our Secretary.


The Editors have been harbouring the thought for a while that producing a list of lists might be helpful for members, and pull together much of the information already available about postcard producers and photographers. We are currently reviewing previous issues of the Postcard Pillar for information already published, and we already have some published works about Muir & Moodie, Zak, FGR, Gladys Goodall, etc. If you have some lists it would be great if you could make them available, in whatever format, so they could be added to our database. Please contact Editor Jeff Long in the first instance.

Request for TREVOR LLOYD Postcards. Member Gary Davies is hunting for cards to add to his collection, and will pay excellent prices for the right cards. Other postcards also wanted: Cynicus “Maori series”, NZ comic artists, F. Norris, Hanna, Sinel, Melvin, Hiscocks, BLO (William Blomfield), NZ Observer and NZ Freelance series, and any early NZ comic Rugby, Maori or Moa Bird themes. Early Australian comic postcards are also wanted: Bulletin series, also comic artists such as Souter, Lindsay, Gibbs, Weston, Minns, Taylor, Nuttall, Mabelle Edmonds, Dillon, Carte, Handy, etc. And Comic cards with Aboriginal themes, plus Cricket, Rugby, Aussie Rules Football and other  sporting themes. Please contact Gary Davies. Email or Phone  0427 827 098 (Aust. Time = NZ time LESS 3 hours).

Reminder from Leo Haks. There are still a few cards I would like to buy, or borrow and scan, for inclusion in my book, and I would like to ask if any members have any of pre-1922 cards.

Portraits of Ernest Rutherford, Anthony Wilding the tennis player, and Bob Fitzsimons, world boxing champion; a Mason’s temple; Day’s Bay Pavilion; a vocational school with girls doing domestic studies; horse shoeing; the Aurora Hotel, Auckland; and any cards with a message pertaining to the development or well-being of New Zealand as a country and its people

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The Picture Postcards of the Melanesian Mission - by Dr. Derek A. Pocock (Western Australia)

I started to collect the cards of the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) because they

  • were numbered and therefore a challenge to try to complete the “set”
  • had a Western Australian theme to a couple of the cards
  • had several Borneo scenes and subjects - close to my philatelic speciality.

Each of which was an attraction. The collecting then progressed to other Missionary Societies postcards. Quite early in the hunt, cards of the Melanesian Mission started to appear. Their study has proved as interesting as the issues of the SPG. There seem to have been 3 early numbered series plus others which were not given a series number. So we have Series 1, 2 & 3 with the others   probably coming later though it is possible that some of them could have been the first sets issued.

All the main sets of cards are black and white (but one set is sepia and 2 coloured cards are known) and all with divided backs. Like other Missionary Society cards they were probably sold as a means of raising funds and, if the SPG is anything to go by, it was a most successful way of raising money from the members who either used them for their correspondence or saved them as a collection. The main period of use seems to have been the ‘Golden Age’ of Picture Postcards i.e. from about 1905 to pre the ’14 -’18 war but some of the Melanesian Mission are ‘20’s & 30’s vintage.

The titles of the cards seen so far are listed below; the title in several cases refers to children and their appearance. (postal use shown when known)


Melanesian Mission Series I  (divided back as Fig 1)

This would be therefore a complete set of 12 cards :-.

  • A Good Catch (Aust.11/07)
  • A Solomon Islander, Mother and Child. (v) (NZ6/05, NZ 1907)
  • Chums (NZ 10/05)
  • Departure Mission Yacht “Southern Cross”. (NZ6/05, NZ 1905)
  • Food Bowls, Solomon Islands. (NZ6/05)
  • His Morning Bath. (v) (NZ6/05)
  • Mission Scholars, Norfolk Island. (v) (NI 7/06, Aust. 1909)
  • Solomon Island Curios (NZ5/05)
  • The Mission Pet.(v) (Aust.11/07)
  • The Patterson (sic) Memorial Chapel, Norfolk Island. (Aust. 8/11)
  • Tug of War. (NZ6/05 Aust. 1906)
  • View from Mission Station, Norfolk Island. (NZ6/05)

(Patterson should be Patteson without an ‘r’)


Figure 1

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Melanesian Mission Series 2 (actually written II) (back as Fig. 1)

This would also be the complete set of 12 cards.

  • A Place of Baptisms and Battles. Fiu River, Mala, Solomon Islands. NZ12/05
  • Bamboo and Palm Thatch House, and Children, Santa Cruz
  • Bank’s Islanders and House.
  • Church at Fiu, Mala, Solomon Islands. NZ 12/08
  • Entrance to Trading Station, Gavatu, Solomon Islands. NZ 2/07
  • First Church at Guadalcanar at Maravoo, Sol. Is NZ 10/05
  • Giants of Tikopia, Bank’s Islands.
  • Group on Board “Southern Cross” off Kia, Northern Bugota, Solomon Islands. NZ3/10
  • Head Hunters and House, Ugi, Solomon Islands. (v)
  • Off to the “Southern Cross”, Bugotu, Solomon Islands.(v) NZ 3/10
  • Santa Cruz Woman and Child.
  • Solomon Islanders with Canoe, Guadalcanal. NZ1905, & ’09


Melanesian Mission Series 3 (actually written III and numbered) 

Set of 12   (back as Fig. 2) (N.B. “Smith & Anthony Ltd.”. on back of #5)

No.1   Patteson Memorial Chapel, St.Barnabas, Norfolk Island – Interior NZ 1907

No.2   Bamboras Bay, Norfolk Island

No.3   Main Road through Mission

No.4   Pine Avenue

No. 5  Bishop’s House, Norfolk Island.  NZ 1907, 3/07

No. 6   Hoeing Potatoes

No. 7   The Patteson Memorial Chapel, West End.

No. 8   Holiday Making.  NZ 5/07

No. 9   Prison Ruins Norfolk Island.

No. 10  Gathering Firewood. NZ12/09

No  11  On the Coast, Norfolk Island

No. 12  The Old Chapel.  N.Heb. 12/06

One notes the extensive NZ use suggesting that their HQ* was in NZ & from where they sold the majority of their cards.

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image011  image007

Left : Figure 3

Right : Figure 2

The Remaining Sets

The remaining sets are listed arbitrarily with just a letter for each set. This does not imply they were issued in this order.

Type ‘A’

Back and white set of 12 with titles in italics. Card measures 43 mms. to full stop. No numbers and white border at bottom. Back as fig 3.

Melanesian Mission Guadalcanal: Wanderer’s Bay. Canoe in River

“                     On Board Southern Cross at Bugotu. Ysabel.

“                     Santa Cruz: Canoe

“                     Santa Cruz. Southern Cross and Canoes

“                     Solomon Islands   Canoe at Vunuha, Hongga, Florida (UK6/11)

“                                  “               Florida: Hongga: Vunuha Village (UK1907)

“                                  “               Florida Parliament 1904

“                                  “               Mala: Roas Village  (UK 10/06)

“                                  “               Ugi: Canoe

“                                  “               Ugu: Eteete Village

“                                  “               Ysabel: Vulava Church  (UK 4/11)

“                                  “               Ysabel  Island. Bugotu: Mara na Tabu /

(All Saints)    (v) UK3/09)

Here again we have the full set of 12


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Type ‘B’

Published by  The Melanesian Mission.  Sepia. This set has a number in bottom left in the white border and title in centre. Nil in bottom right corner. Post Card measures 38 mms. Printed in Britain in stamp box. Back as fig. 4

1.Panorama, Bungana, Florida 13. Panaroma from Hongo, Florida
2. Christ Church, Fiu, N. Mala 14. Church at Steep Cliff Bay, Raga, [u. GB Nov. 1930]
3. Church (Interior), Heuru, San Cristoval 15. Roas Bay, Mala
4. “Southern Cross” at Halavo Bay, Florida 16. Village, Mota, Banks Islands.
5. Patrick and Michael; Mota, Banks Is. 17. Men of Roas, Mala
6. Man of Qarwa, Mala (v)  [u. locally 1930] 18. Man of Nukapu
7. Woman and Child, Aoba (v) 19. Father and Child, Lakona
8. “Southern Cross” and Canoes at Santa Cruz 20. Graciosa Bay, Santa Cruz
9. House at Tegua, Torres Islands. [ u. locally 1931] 21. House at Maravovo
10. Beach at Pamua, San Cristobal 22. Beach, Ureparapara
11. Man of Bululaha, Sol. Is. (v)  [u. locally May 1930] 23. Natives at Pago Pago, Savo
12. Schoolhouse at Gamal, Merelava 24. The Utuha Passage, Siota, Florida


Figure 4. Type ‘B’ Card No 6 ‘Man of Qarwa’ Front and

image017 image018

Figure 5.  Type ‘C’ Card No1 ‘A Santa Cruz Weaver’. Front and Back

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Type C

A black & white series with Rotary photo E.C. at bottom left in the white border, title in centre, and No… Beattie, Hobart in bottom left. Some have Printed in England in stamp box; others have Printed in England. Some have just Published by the Melanesian Mission at left: others have Church House, Westminster added. Divider is double line except no. 5 which is a single line.  Backs as fig. 5. Post Card measures 42mms. including full stop. (v) is a vertical format card.

1 A Santa Cruz Weaver (v)  [u. GB Apr. 1919] 27 Roas bay, Mala, Solomon Islands
2 Mara Na Tabu, Ysabel 28 Village of Saa, Mala, Solomon Islands
3 *Raga Woman and Child, New Hebrides 29 Native Houses, Maravovo, Guadacanar
4 ? Tulagi Harbour 30 Maravovo Village, Guadalcanal     Barrie Knowles
5 The Salon and Sanctuary, Southern Cross 31 Bulalaha River, Mala, Solomon Islands
6 *Church at Lamalana, Raga, New Hebrides 32 *A Florida Canoe, Solomon Islands[u. GB Sept. 1920]
7 Native House, Savo, Solomons 33 Gamal at Ahia, Ulawa.
8 Houses at Te Motu, Santa Cruz 35 Cannibals of Foate, Mala
9 *A Reef Islands Canoe  [u. GB Mar. 1913] 36 Little Heathen, Mala
10 Men of Nukapu, Reef Islands 37 Men of Roas, Mala (v)
11 In the Pallisade, Nore Fiu, Mala 38 Men of San Cristoval
12 The Chief’s Brother, Bulalaha, Mala (v) 39 Chief of Te Motu. Santa Cruz  (ebay sept ’05)
13  Landing Place, Ahia, Ulawa 40 Church of Motalava, Banks’ Islands  (? apostrophe)
14 Men of Bulalaha, Mala 41 Church at Merelava, Banks Islands  (?no apostrophe)
15 A Roas Boy Shooting, Mala 44 A Chief and His Friend, Solomon Islands (v)
16 Creek at Roas Bay, Mala 45 Church at Heuru, San Cristoval (?b)
17 A Fighting man of Ulawa, Solomons     Barrie Knowles 46 Chief at Roas Bay, Mala
20 Patteson Memorial, Interior(ebay March 2010 $39.95) [as series 3 no. 1] 47 Natives of Ahia, Ulawa
25 Boys at Loh, Torres Islands 49 The Southern Cross at Santa Cruz      Barrie Knowles
26 Natives of Vanikolo

Those marked with * have ‘Published by the Melanesian Mission, Church House, Westminster’ on the backs.

Similarly there are 8 cards otherwise identical to this series but without numbers. Type C2 below. These could be some of the missing numbers above although they do not all bear ‘Beattie, Hobart’ on the fronts.

Type C 2

  • Cathedral in Construction, Siota, Solomon Islands
  • The Cathedral, Siota, Solomon Islands [u. G.B July ‘43/8]
  • Interior of Cathedral, Siota, Solomon Islands
  • Altar of St. Barnabas Church, Ulawa, Solomon Islands.(v)
  • Bugle Band, Maravovo, Solomon Islands
  • The Calvary, Maravovo Beach, Solomon Islands (v)
  • The Rt. Rev. Cecil John Wood D.D. Bishop of Melanesia. 1912. (v)
  • Captain Sinker and his Melanesian crew on the “Southern Cross”

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Type D

D/B: Back has South Australian in thin capitals crossed out with two wavy lines and replaced above it with Melanesian Mission Series in thin capitals. Numbered on back bottom right.

  1. 96543 Church at Fiu Mala (Col.) u 1907
  2. 96547 Mount Pitt, Norfolk Island (K.A.) u. 1909 Australia
  3. ?       Trading Station, Gavota, Florida  ? number ? owner. u. 1907

This suggests that nos. 96541, 2, 4, 5  6, & probably at least an 8th still to be identified.

Type E 1

D/B; Post Card 50mm. long incl. full stop. “Arrow heads”. each side of ‘POST CARD’ Black & white print. . Not numbered. Melanesian Mission Series top left of back in bold

Trading Station,  Florida, Solomon Islands, u.1905 (note comma at end for full stop)

Type E 2

‘Post Card’ as type E1 but Melanesian Mission Series at top left backing thin capitals; otherwise identical back. Title in italics

Church and People at Wasoga, Solomon Islands  (p.u. Mar. ’07 Australia)

( compare above to similar back to E1 but with New Guinea Mission Series instead of  Melanesian Mission Series. Example:- A HappyFamily. / The Chief of Waiigela, who calls himself “Misatom” / after Mr. Tomlinson.)

Miscellaneous cards ? of group C.

The Rt. Rev.John Manwaring Steward / Bishop of Melanesia 1919 (v)

(this card has No. 1 in bottom right corner)

The Rt. Rev. Cecil John Wood D.D. / Bishop of Melanesia 1912 (v)

(this card has Rotary Photo E.C. bottom left and Debenham and

Gould, Bournemouth No. 51 bottom right.)

Patteson Memorial Cross, Nuikapu. Reef Islands

(a sepia card with Beattie, Hobart at bottom right)

All these three cards have backs identical to the * type C

No number: Card showing “The Southern Cross” – a fine white steamer with 1 funnel and 2 masts are found with or without a ‘Postcard’ back. One example has message on back “Dedicated to the Bishop of Liverpool at Princes Landing Stage Liverpool Eng. September 12th 1933”  It was postally used on Sept. 13th 1933

Where the cards are postally used, the country and date are given against the card.

It remains to try and complete the listings of the sets - though types 1, 2, 3, & ‘A’ may be complete already. Also to list any other cards that collectors may have from the other sets as there is no certainty that these are the only sets the Society produced.

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In researching the SPG in London it was interesting to find that that organization does still function as the U(United) SPG and their magazines from the library from the early period showed that the sale of their cards was very popular such as to encourage the Society to continue producing sets of cards up to Series. 25. As a result there are nearly 300 cards to find and classify just from the SPG alone. If any readers are interested in these SPG cards, I would be happy to send them a list of the identifications that has been done so far because there are still several gaps to fill particularly in the later sets.

The Melanesian Mission also produced (Cinderella) stamps. There are 2 sheets of 24 stamps both in blue. They show pictures of the Clergy, the Society ship - The Southern Cross - and illustrations of natives and their activities - not head hunting though! These stamp sheets were printed by Harrisons and Sons of London and the (? )1st. sheet has 6 copies of the Bishop’s Flag for the bottom row. The (?) 2nd. sheet (also designed by Harrisons) is headed Melanesian Mission Centenary Appeal 1849 - 1949 and shows a different series of 24 scenes. Both sheets were sold for 1/- for the 24 stamps.

The author would be pleased to hear from anyone interested in collecting Missionary Society cards in general as this would seem to be a large and very unstudied area where much useful work could be done but, like so many projects, it is better done by a group rather than an individual whose resources must always be limited by both the material available & wherever they may live; this is irrespective of whatever funds that can be devoted to one’s hobby.

List of known Missionary Societies


London Missionary Society Society of Mary
Church Missionary Society Missions des Peres des Sacres-Coeurs: Le Frere Louis et ses maladies, Kalawao (Molokai)
Australasian Mission to South America Em Thill Brussel Missiezusters
New Guinea Mission Missions des Peres des Sacres-Coeurs d’Issoudun
New Hebrides Mission: Presbyterian Church of Australia Missiehuis - Borgerhout- Seminaire des Missions
SPG Missions Maritime d’Oceanie DNG Neuen Dettelsauer Mission
Mission des  Salomon Septentrionales Verlag der Kathol, Mission in Deutch -Neu-G
Missions d’Oceanie Katholische Mission vom hist. Auf Neupommem, Deutsche Sudsee
Sacred Heart Fathers, Papua Methodist Missionary Society of Australia
Missions des  Peres Maristes en Oceanie New Guinea Methodist Mission
Jesuitez Missionaires Lyon Societe des Missions Evangeliques Paris
Propagation de la Foi

 Page 10

The Death of Free Cards - by Desmond Hurley

A recent blogger in the Guardian concluded that postcards were not dead, as some had proclaimed, because Royal Mail had announced that it had delivered 135 million to British homes in 2006 whereas in 2003 the number was 30 million less. I have no doubt he was correct; one only has to look at the postcard racks in tourist outlets here to see they are alive and well. But freecards are a different matter. I know, because I collect them. I first began collecting them when I saw them in racks in public places in London and Paris in the early 1990s - ideal as tourist souvenirs because they were small, light and FREE . When I returned to New Zealand, freecards were starting to appear in racks here. But first, some definitions, this one from Wikipedia.:

An advertising postcard, also known as a free card or an adcard, is a postcard which is designed and used to advertise or raise awareness of a company, service or cause. The difference between advertising postcards and normal postcards is distinguished by the fact that advertising postcards are not touristic or solely intended for tourists.


Freecards are also known as rack cards. It is said they exploded in popularity in Europe at the end of the 1980s, where their origins are attributed to Spanish publisher, Vangardia, in Barcelona.

They soon spread throughout Europe and North America, aimed in the first place at “young, hip people” which is why they were found in bars and restaurants, followed, as the Postcard Collector says, by other places where the young gathered, like “fitness clubs, libraries, high schools and universities and even certain shops”.  To these could be added coffee bars and restaurants.

Freecards are a direct descendent of the Victorian trade card which was typically used to advertise products and services such as patent medicines, thread, sewing machines, food and beverages, farm equipment and such like.  Trade cards reached the height of their popularity during the 1880's and 1890's. Most readers will have seen those issued by the chocolate firms of Nestlé and Cadbury and the numerous German Tourist Hotels depicted on lithographed Grüss Aus cards.

The 1990s rise of the free card one hundred years later was quite sudden but they were quickly seized upon as a popular advertising medium.

“Advertising postcards are usually found in nightclubs, restaurants, bars, cinemas or other locations in major cities generally frequented by the trendy, young social group (ages 18-35). The cards are free to patrons of the establishment. They usually contain discreet advertising slogans but have attractive or ingenious images and are produced on good quality card stock with a postcard back. One of the marketing concepts of advertising postcards is that the cards are so attractive people want to pick them up, save them, show, or post them, to a friend and say "have you seen this?”

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Reverse of card above

Card racks usually contained 10 to 20 slots, with cards advertising different products, universities, promotions, events, services, entertainments and such-like. Cards were changed on a regular basis so there was a continuing supply of new material for people to take.

Has the era of the free advertising postcard passed by? Perhaps not entirely, but quite suddenly most of them disappeared, along with their distribution racks, both here and overseas.

Not so many years ago, New Zealand card publishers, Creative Profile, offered “just 300 sets worldwide” of their first 400 numbered cards for sale at $245 a set with two “specially designed” Collector’s albums. A separate postcard offered to print customers 5,000 cards for $680 plus GST - less than 16c each, a cheap form of advertising.

Today, free postcards have given way to other means of advertising or notification. Some institutions these days, particularly libraries, seem to prefer give-away bookmarks. The occasional use of longcards - those, a third longer than normal postcards but still with divided backs and provision for a stamp and an address - has also lingered on. They are favoured by the NZ Symphony Orchestra, amongst others, presumably because they provide more advertising space. Other institutions have moved to postcard-size card or thin paper with advertising front and back. These, which are essentially Clayton’s postcards, do not rate for me and, like so many of the real estate cards dropped in our letterbox, they are not intended for mailing.

If you doubt that freecards have largely disappeared, look to the internet. Only five years ago, googling freecards would have produced a number of sites devoted to freecards. Today, it takes you immediately to numerous sites offering electronic free cards. So also with longcards.

“Send someone your Love, Feelings or Friendship by sending Free E-cards.”

There’s nary a reference to my friends of the non-electronic variety. Likewise there is little result if you google advertising postcards even though free postcards were still a significant medium in NZ in 2003 when several firms were offering to produce cards for their customers. An article by David McNichol in AdMedia for December of that year quotes Creative Profile's Renée Becherer;

“Sometimes for a nationwide campaign 50,000-60,000 cards is enough, but recently the ACC had naked bodies in the shape of New Zealand. It was a campaign about people in work-related accidents –– the body count. Even though it was a black & white image, 100,000 cards wasn't enough to cover demand.”

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Becherer said the evolving Kiwi café culture did present challenges for his company.

“Like any advertising, it's all about locations. The café scene is changing quite a bit. We've been in the market for seven years and some outlets are well established, while at the same time plenty have closed down or changed hands. You always have to be on top of that. For example you would put a rack in the toilet only in restaurants –– because everyone uses a toilet in a restaurant, but not in cafés. In cafés the rack is always in a visible, accessible spot where you don't have to reach over people's coffee."


Creative Profile placed cards in cinemas and galleries, but did not waste them on backpacker lodges unless clients specifically requested them. “We get lots of requests from backpacker lodges, but because they're backpackers, they're not around for very long so why do it?”

I collect - or collected - freecards  for three reasons. Firstly, they were free. I know this is a selfish reason, but there are other free objects around which I do not collect.

Secondly, because many of them are attractive, even beautiful, certainly artistic, they give us an easily-collected, pocket-sized picture of the state of modern advertising art and of the ability of modern printing to produced miniature works of art.

They also present a view of contemporary life, which in years to come, our children may collect as avidly as we now collect advertising and topographic cards of the early 1900s and, to a lesser extent, the 1930s.

New Zealand Freecards can be divided into at least ten arbitrary categories which frequently overlap.

  1. Theatrical and cultural events, films and film festivals, books. These are normally for forthcoming events and are usually specific to a local area. One of the most recent (and to my mind surprisingly effective) was  an essentially black and white series featuring a book on the history of State Housing.
  2. Commercial advertising. This covers such diverse topics as liquor, nappies, restaurants, clothes, tissues, telephone companies, cars, shoes, candy and drinks, banks and magazines and even milk and yoghurt (using electron microscope photographs of plant structure). Elvis appears on a card recommending that you buy your next vehicle from a member of the Motor Vehicle Dealers.
  3. Museum and Art Gallery reproductions of the art they hold or exhibit. Art gallery reproductions are usually intended for sale in the gallery shop, but some galleries also use freecards to publicise their current exhibitions. Commercial galleries are much more likely to use cards for this purpose and they tend to be of high photographic and artistic merit in themselves.
  1. Social services. Free postcards are a good way of advertising such services and tend to be used by Government Departments (Department of Conservation, NZ Post with an imaginative “American Gothic” card to advise someone of your postal address), social agencies (Student Job Search; Youthlaw) and local government.
  2. Tourist advertising. These are part of the grand campaign to lure more visitors and their money to national and local attractions.
  3. Invitations to visit or settle in a town or region. This kind of cards flourished in a climate of skill shortages.
  4. Educational Institutions & their Courses. These mostly originate from tertiary institutions and characteristically employ humour to suggest future career prospects. They are designed to appeal to teen-agers. Otago University has produced some very attractive cards to lure students to their campus.
  5. Social campaigns. As opposed to social services, these usually originate in government departments urging healthy activities: more exercise, participation in sport, avoidance of accidents, giving up smoking, abandoning obesity and avoiding traffic accidents. There are also the petition-style, quick-response “send to your MP” cards which just need a name, signature and address before being dropped in the mail. They are also used for specific campaigns such as the Wellington “Save the Prudential” card. (The building was saved.)

9 Radio and Television Stations. Every so often, a radio or TV station has a forthcoming programme it wishes to publicise, such as the Intrepid Journey TV series fronted by local celebrities.

  1. Political postcards. These are usually from your local MP and have been surprisingly rare in recent years - you are far more likely to find estate agents’ cards in your letter box. At least one advertising card has been sighted which may have been based on the “infamous” National Party policy comparisons (the iwi/kiwi series). This is a Dax/wax card which looks like, but could also have inspired, the National Party campaign.

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Some free cards are very inventive. The series of paint advertisements produced for Resene were spectacular examples of how to marry a somewhat pedestrian subject with eye-catching cards but they, too, have vanished.

I am still in admiration of the Department of Corrections which ran a tourist-like series featuring Greetings cards from various prisons around the country. Most “Come to Our University” cards are clever, some extremely artistic while Dunedin City’s “Come to Dunedin” are gems of the local body type. Wellington’s Job Placement cards were colourful and eye-catching. Writers’ & Readers’ Week for 2009 produced a perforated card featuring easily separated words which you were invited to re-arrange “in an inspiring way” and then text to the organisers for a chance to win a $1000 “Prezzy Card”.

Some two or three years ago, some organisations took to using die-cut cards with irregular edges or similar features. There is, for instance, an RNZAF recruiting card which has 12 pull-apart squares. These can be reassembled, jigsaw-like, to restore the original photograph. Propecia produced one which features  push-out faces beneath outrageously prolific hair styles. One of the most imaginative is a Griffin’s card for Chit Chat biscuits which features a stand-up coffee-cup filled with chocolate biscuits although a similar pop-up card for Hutton’s Super Cheerios takes some beating (but hardly for beauty). Commercial Art Galleries especially tend to promote oddly shaped cards.

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Reverse of card above

Let’s  hope the present dearth of new freecards is just a temporary lapse and that new and even more imaginative cards are on the way. There seems recently to have been a minor stirring of the corpse. Several cards new to me, mostly from institutional rather than business sources, have recently been brought to my attention. These come from sources such as TheNewDowse (the three words in one is deliberate), Alexander Turnbull Library ( a series featuring historic photos from their Timeframes collection),  Radio New Zealand, The Best of Wellington, The Wellington Regional Council  (“Cut Your Rubbish by 65%”), Ministry of Youth Development (Youth Parliament),The German Film Festival, Lighthouse Picture House, and Pandora Jewellery are others I have seen. Te Papa and National Library have issued sets for Matariki,  Maori Language Week and Papers Past. Booksellers produce an annual voting card for the NZ Post Book Awards.

Various professional organisations still use postcards to remind their clients of appointments and service dates - dentists, vets and garages are three that come to mind. They’re not readily available and are not quite freecards  (especially if you count in the cost of the appointments you are being reminded of !) but at least they come through the post with stamps (often from alternative mailing services) and cancellations.

More often, these days, one picks up attractively illustrated cards in eager anticipation only to find they do not have  divided backs but are 100% devoted to advertising. I suppose one can always collect free bookmarks. They are, after all, physically more collectable than digital e-mail cards.

Thanks to Alan Jackson for the postcard illustrations.

(Editor’s note:  Des sent me this article just before the last issue of the Postcard Pillar. I kept it for this current edition, but I am sad to report that in the interim Des passed away. Des was a long-time member of the Royal Philatelic and Hutt Valley Philatelic Societies. He was a great researcher and recorder, and his publications include the List of Royal Philatelic Society Library Holdings, A Biography of NZ Cinderellas, and many articles in collector journals. When this article on freecards arrived, I was enthusiastically looking forward to other such interesting emails arriving, but it is not to be. The Society’s members pass on their condolences to Des’ family)

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Destination Great Lake Taupo - by Brian G Vincent

Returning home after a week’s holiday at Lake Taupō over the 2012 New Year, we had occasion to stop and visit the Tongariro National Trout Centre. Our two grandchildren, who were travelling with us, wanted to see and also feed some of the fish.

At the Centre’s Information/reception desk I saw a small pile of picture postcards and yes they were free giveaways.  I discovered there were four different postcards (see illustrations) which all promoted “Great memories (of) great Lake Taupō”.

Each postcard depicts two scenes with the one on the left being an older version of a similar but modern scene on the right. What was also interesting was that these postcards were all printed with a FreePost Authority on the address side (see illustration).

Whether or not one considers these postcards as private postal stationery, they are certainly collectable and good examples of what is available today to postcard enthusiasts.


Estuary to Esplanade; the Sumner Coast - by Jenny Long

Starting on the opposite page is the first page of this exhibit, and another 8 consecutive pages. This is the third in a series of extracts of successful postcard exhibits. The first was Bruce Isted’s generic cards of Wanganui, which was an exhibit of a type of postcard for a particular area. Next was Yvonne Benson’s Mt Tarawera story, which was an example of a topographical exhibit, in this case featuring an event.

This Sumner exhibit is another type of topographical exhibit, this time about a geographical area, the road and tramway to Sumner, the seaside suburb of Christchurch. Note that this is not just an accumulation of cards of this area, but is tied together by following the actual transport links as you get closer to Sumner, and also through time. Note the use of a different size (and colour) font for technical information about the cards themselves, and also the use of reduced-size scans on page 22. This exhibit received a special prize for the best postcard exhibit at the recent CPS Stamp & Postcard Exhibition.

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Closing The Gap - by Diane McKoy

Living and working conditions on the last span of the North Island Main Trunk Line between Taihape and Taumarunui

During the depression of the 1880s and 1890s railway construction in the North Island was progressing slowly and by the turn of the century there were ten separate sections of line totaling approximately 2,000 miles. Also there were several privately owned lines which were eventually acquired by the Government.

In 1884 John Rochfort, civil engineer and pioneer surveyor (who from an apprenticeship under the famous Isambard Kingdom Brunel, had 33 years of civil engineering), was sent by the Public Works Department to fill in the gaps in the sketchy knowledge of the remote interior. The area had only been open to Pakeha for two years and not all Maori were reconciled to the presence of surveyors. Nearly a quarter of a century later, in 1900, a concerted effort was begun in the centre of the North Island, and by 1905, the lines had reached Taumarunui in the north and Taihape in the south. Two years later the main trunk workforce topped 2,700. There was hope that the line would be through in time to cater for people wishing to travel overland to the Christchurch International Exhibition November 1906, but when the Exhibition opened, the rail heads at Oio in the north and Turangarere in the south were still 54 miles apart. In 1907 an extra shift of workers was added, toiling through the night under the glow of kerosene lamps.

By March 1906 the Public Works railhead had advanced to Oio, 20 miles south of Taumarunui and camps were set up on the sides of the road. From Oio supplies from the Private Engineering Company went 20 miles to Makatote by road for the building of the viaduct.


Oio Station North Island Main Trunk Railway (F.T. Series 235 A)

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The Oio-Makatote service road.    (FT Series 230 A)


The pumice service road from Oio approaches Raurimu, autumn 1905 (Jones & Coleman 156)

Makatote Viaduct

The Makatote Viaduct is not only the highest above its stream bed and high on the central plateau, it was also the last of the great viaducts on the line to be completed. It was completed 10 July 1908 from a workshop specially erected on the site.   It is 860 feet long, 258 feet high, with five spans of 100 feet and 10 of 36 feet.

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Load test of the completed Makatote Viaduct.   A train of 350 tons braked to an emergency stop from 30 mph.  From right classes X, WF, A (R wagon) WF all typical early main trunk engines  (H & B card, A Series)

Hapuawhenua Viaduct

Completed in April 1908, the Hapuawhenua Viaduct was one of five viaducts that were built between Ohakune and Erua and was the longest on the line.   It is 932 feet long, 149 feet high, with five spans of 64 feet, and 17 of 36 feet.  The steelwork was manufactured at the Public Works workshop at Mangaonoho.   In 1906 when the railhead reached Ohakune, the material for the viaduct could travel over the line for most of the journey.


The Hapuawhenua Viaduct.  The Through Express Crossing.  1 year after construction (Beattie & Co. Real Photo, prot 1909)

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The Hapuawhenua Viaduct is situated in the North Island's Central Plateau just northwest of Ohakune. It was constructed as part of the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) in 1908 and was a functioning part of that railway for the subsequent 80 years. The Hapuawhenua Viaduct is one of a pair of large curved steel truss railway viaducts, which are unique within New Zealand.


Rail Head Ohakune (Beattie Real Photo) Prot 1.5.1908

A series of viaducts were necessary to navigate the difficult terrain which stood in the way of the completion of the NIMT. All of these structures were designed by the notable Public Works Department (PWD) engineer, Peter Seton Hay. Both the Hapuawhenua Viaduct and its close neighbour, the Taonui Viaduct, were constructed under the 'co-operative system' and the steelwork was manufactured at the PWD workshop at Mangaonoho, which was situated between Hunterville and Taihape and in operation from 1898. The workshop ran at full capacity in order to facilitate the construction of these viaducts, which was a central reason why the other three viaducts in the crucial last section of the NIMT were contracted out to a private firm.

In 1906 the southern railhead reached Ohakune, which meant that the materials for the viaduct traveled over the completed line for most of the journey, but a temporary line had to be built for transport on to the Hapuawhenua site. There was also a service road built in 1906 which later became the road that coaches transported train passengers along   between the railheads.

The close proximity of the base of NIMT southern construction at Ohakune allowed the Resident Engineer, Frederick William Furkert (1876-1949), to monitor the progress of the co-operative system workers. Furkert kept a close eye on what was happening and made frequent visits to the Hapuawhenua site during construction.

 Working conditions

While the engineers who designed and planned the construction deserve every accolade, tribute should also be paid to the nameless navvies who toiled on the line with little more than pick, shovel, horse, bullock and dray, to tame unstable pumice fields and hard volcanic rock, to bridge deep ravines and conquer steep hillsides. Oxen, horses and small steam locomotives assisted with bulk movement of materials. It was only in the last two years before the line officially opened that one of New Zealand’s first steam shovels was brought in to help dig the cuttings.

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It was a hard life and, considering the conditions and time span, it is surprising that there were no multiple fatalities during construction, although a small number of individuals lost their lives in accidents.

The navvies excavating the cuttings would harness the force of gravity to fill a rough timber shute, known as a “Chinaman”, which directed their spoil into the tip-trucks placed below. Wages were paid by piece work. The horses which hauled the tip-trucks were owned by their drivers who received a maintenance allowance for each animal.


Nelson’s Cutting, Raurimu.   The largest on the Main Trunk Railway (Showing Navvies using the “ChinaMan”) (F.T. Series 225 A)

Living Conditions

The standard shelter was the 10 foot by 8 foot tent, government issue, with fly and wooden floor, to accommodate two men.   The occupants frequently boarded up the sides above floor level, erected bunk frames and set up fireplaces and corrugated iron chimneys.


Erecting Tents, Railway Works, Raurimu (F.T. Series 227 A)

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Married men might have two or even three tents according to the number and sex of their children.   Tinning, salting, pickling and smoking were the accepted modes of food preservation.  Vegetables were only available in season.

Fresh meat was something of a luxury.   Works camps closer to the rail line might occasionally get lettuce, tomatoes and fresh milk.   More remote teams suffered more shortages especially if the weather was bad.   The weather was often very wet and the winters were long and cold.   Water had to be carried by hand from the nearby rivers.


Canvastown Raurimu (F.T. Series 228 A)

On a fine Sunday the men could be seen at the cross-roads in Raurimu township playing the illegal game of two-up. The ’school’ was so large that horses and traps had to negotiate their way around. Although the local constable knew of the games, he did not deem it necessary to interfere.

Most workers, and often their families, lived in government-issue tents, which had the luxury of wooden floors but little else in the way of home comforts. Since work was long-term, many boarded up the tents with timber milled from the expansive forests, and installed fireplaces with corrugated chimneys.


Ohakune (During Construction of Railway).   (Gold Medal Series. Fergusson Card)

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The behaviour of the railway gangs was also generally commended, possibly aided by the prohibition of alcohol in the King Country, which endured until 1954. There were incidents of sly-grogging, illegal two-up schools, and rowdiness but, as a rule, hard work took precedence over high times.


Snowed Up, Raurimu.  (Photo A.G. Tibbutt.  F.T. Series 220 A)

The main trunk’s large cosmopolitan labour force lived and worked in harsh conditions, especially during the long King Country winters.   Their isolated shanty towns offered few comforts or diversions other than gambling and drinking.

Following pay-day there was sometimes drunkenness and fighting. On the whole, the railway gangs were generally well behaved, because of the prohibition of  alcohol in the King Country.

Transport between the Rail Heads

By the end of 1907 passengers were being carried all the way to Ohakune. There they stayed overnight where accommodation was often inadequate. The passengers had to be taken by coach, often up to seven, over rough roads to the township which was two miles away from the station.  Those who could not get accommodation had to hang about the station and if they were lucky, may have collected a blanket so that they could sleep on the floor. Ohakune township was the overnight stop of northbound passengers on Main Trunk trains from 9th November 1908 until 14th  February 1909.


The Ohakune Coach.   A trip which quite often was traveled through hours of mud and non-stop rain to Raurimu (Private Real Photo card)

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The rail gap had now been reduced to 24 miles.   The coach boarded at Ohakune made the passage of the rail-gap, by now reduced to 18 miles, in three hours 45 minutes. Leaving Waimarino  at 4.00pm the Public Works train arrived at Taumarunui at 6.20pm where a second overnight stay was made.


Coach crossing the Mangawhero River NI Main Trunk Line Ohakune Marsh Real Photo Card

The Raurimu Spiral


Beattie Card showing map of Raurimu Spiral

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The location of the Raurimu Spiral was the key to a workable climb from Taumarunui to the National Park summit. The 132m rise over a distance of two kilometres in a direct line was achieved by the use of the ‘Spiral’ loop and horseshoe curves using the topography very skillfully to minimize cut, fill and tunneling. It was completed in April 1908.


Public works train descending an arc of the Raurimu Spiral. (Printed Beattie Moa Series 5081)

Established Settlements

Even before the line was officially opened, passengers could travel by a mix of regular and Public Works trains to the railheads at either Ohakune or Raurimu, then take a coach service to connect with the train waiting at the opposite end.

As the railway progressed, so did settlement of the interior. For many towns, the railway was the reason for their existence, with schools, shops, boarding houses, ironworks, brickworks and machine shops established to service the rail industry. Soon, such

Settlements also began to service sawmilling and farming communities that followed the advance of the railway.


Ohakune Main Street , (Muir and Moodie 5820)

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Wagoners and coach companies had plenty of business during the busy years of the completion of the NIMT.   A great strain was put on available transport resources.   Coaches were used more and more to link townships with the railheads established by construction gangs building the line.

NIMT Finally Complete

The first train through to travel the length of the North Island Main Trunk Line was the ‘Parliamentary Special’  with Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward and other members of Parliament on board, which left Wellington on the 7th August 1908.  It was a train with few amenities, no sleeping cars and one dining car.  When it arrived in the King Country the windows were iced up and icicles hung from the car ceilings. They were heading to Auckland to greet the visiting ’Great White Fleet’ from America.

They had a rough, slow ride over the central section, which traveled over a temporary, unfinished, unballasted track. The trip to Auckland took 20½ hours.

The North Island Main Trunk Line was formally opened on 6th November 1908 when Sir Joseph Ward drove home a silver spike at Manganui o te au. Three days later the line was officially open.


First train over the completed Main Trunk Line between Wellington and Auckland entering the connecting section of the older lines. (Private Real Photo card)

These first trains were often mixed goods and passenger trains, resulting in passengers spending long periods waiting while goods wagons were shunted into position. The journey took three days, with overnight stops at both Taihape and Taumarunui.

The closing of the gap on the North Island Main Trunk Line was at a time when postcards were at the height of production in the early 1900s. The engineers’ grand solutions overcame many obstacles, with viaducts spanning entire valleys and the high point of the unique Raurimu Spiral.    Many photographers took advantage of the construction to capture images of history and produce many cards of this great engineering achievement through the central North Island

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Time Line of the construction of the Central Section of the North Island Main Trunk Line
Original Construction - 15 April 1885. The first sod of the NIMT's central section turned at Puniu River.November 1908 NIMT open to Erua: 1885 - 1908
Original Construction - Makohine Viaduct started: 1897
Original Construction - Mangaweka Viaduct concrete work is completed: 1900
Original Construction - June. Makohine Viaduct completed: 1902
November. NIMT open to Mangaweka: 1902
Original Construction - Mangaweka Viaduct completed: 1903
Taumarunui is the northern railhead: 1903
Original Construction - January. Matapuna Bridge completed. February. Toi Toi Viaduct completed: 1904
NIMT open to Taihape: 1904
Original Construction - Mataroa Tunnel Started: 1904
Original Construction - Makatote Viaduct started. Raurimu Spiral started: 1905
Original Construction - Mataroa Tunnel completed. Ngaurukehu Tunnel, Hautapu Bridge and Turangarere Horseshoe completed: 1906
 North railhead at Raurimu: 1906
Original Construction - Ohakune Railway Station constructed. Ohakune is southern railhead: 1906
Original Construction - Ohakune to Horopito Coach Road completed: 1906
Original Construction - Waimarino/National Park Railway Station completed: 1907
June. NIMT open to Mataroa: 1907
Original Construction - December. Taonui Viaduct completed: 1907
Original Construction - Raurimu Spiral completed. April Hapuwhenua Viaduct completed. June Mangaturuturu Viaduct completed: 1908
July. NIMT open to Waiouru: 1908
Original Construction - 10 July, Makatote Viaduct completed: 1908
3 August, Temporary line constructed to enable passage of the 'Parliamentary Special': 1908
'Last Spike' commemorative obelisk constructed. 6 November' Last Spike' driven at Manganui-o-te-ao: 1908


Basic map showing the Area between Taihape and Taumarunui  where the North Island Main Trunk Line was completed, “closing the gap”

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Book Review: “George Rose - The Postcard Era - The story of a great Australian photographer and a photographic tour through his postcard images.”

 Illustrated with over 500 photographs of Australia selected for publication by Ron Blum (A)$75.00 including postage to NZ.

ISBN 978-0-9589572-4-3  contact: Ron Blum, 2 Hussey Avenue, Oaklands Park, SA 5046. AUSTRALIA email:

I first got to know the author of this book in 1987 when I had my gallery in Ghuznee Street, Wellington. Ron had written a book on The Siege of Port Arthur, an illustrated history of the Russia-Japan war in 1904. We got into correspondence with one another, and I acted as an NZ outlet for his publication. Twenty-one years later, he published a study on George Rose - Australia’s Master Stereographer, a 262 page book which had a section of New Zealand views. When I heard Ron had written a companion piece on Rose’s postcards, I hastened to get a copy and offer this review for the Postcard Pillar.

While I’m disappointed to discover that the Rose Stereograph Company didn’t produce any New Zealand postcard views, it has a number of things which I regard as very important when it comes to describing the labour intensive methods used to produce real photo postcards. Despite the difficult task of marketing postcards to a widely distributed population, I noted how the task was made much easier by CBD (Central Business District) views of towns and cities along with the occasional seaside swimming scene breaking up the main street views.

Ron has selected 500 views for his book with four images to a double page. The reproductions are magnificent, and are supplemented by several pages in full colour featuring the company’s graphics and novelties which they produced, including a range of cigarette cards. The book is accompanied by a CD, which carries an almost complete list of postcard titles and catalogue numbers.  I found this an invaluable addition, even though it adds slightly to the cost.

During their involvement in the postcard trade from1913 to 1967, Rose produced over 20,000 photographic views, covering all the Australian States. In addition to this, they produced a commissioned set of postcards for Fiji. Unfortunately, they did not undertake a New Zealand series, especially so when it’s realised they produced a magnificent set of New Zealand stereographs around the time of the Christchurch International Exhibition in 1906/7. That aside, even with my skimpy knowledge of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane I was thrilled to recognise certain individualistic features of each city.

However, I must comment on the illustrations. When this postcard book is compared to the earlier stereographic publication, it is almost entirely made up of statutory views of towns CBDs. Conversely, the Rose stereograph publication was wider in its choice of views, including indigenous features and ethnological studies which make it a fascinating volume. Why did the company change this wonderful formula when they moved into postcards? The only conclusion I can draw is that as George Rose edged towards retirement, his son Walter assumed control, and eventually sold the company in the late 1930s to two employees, Edward Clifford Gilbert and Herbert Leonard Cutts. Although George Rose continued to take photographs around Australia in a specially built van, Cutts’ son took control of the business in the 1960’s and initiated changes that saw images acquired that were suited for colour reproduction.

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Nevertheless, now a fairly complete picture of Rose’s work has finally emerged, I hope he will receive due recognition for his contribution to Australian photography. Certainly, we in New Zealand admire him for his great contribution to our country's documentation around 1906/7. I’m mindful of two well known photo-historians, Gael Newton and Anne-Marie Willis: both fail to mention George Rose in their publications - respectively speaking Shades of Light - photography in Australia 1839-1988 and Picturing Australia - a history of photography. On the other hand, both see their way clear to account for the activities of Charles Kerry, including his venture into picture postcards. When updated reprints of their books see the light of day, I look forward to see how they accommodate George Rose and his company’s amazing contribution to Australian photography.

William Main


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Another Whitebaiter!! - by Brian G Vincent

A recent trip to Parliament Buildings in Wellington has provided another whitebait card for my collection.  At the Gift Shop located in the Beehive I purchased the postcard illustrated here.  It shows ‘Whanaungatanga: Relationships’ – a wall hanging that was commissioned for stair 7 in Parliament House.

The concept and artwork was by Malcolm Harrison, and it took the various contributors many hours of work from commencement in May 1994 to installation in January 1996.  Of particular interest to me was the figure in the left hand diamond just below the ‘horse.’  (A close-up illustration of this part of the postcard is also shown here).

image001a image003a

This depicts The Whitebaiter and the brochure about this wall hanging notes the source as Richard Parker, Karamea, West Coast in the mid 1960’s.

The run of whitebait was too big for our whitebaiter’s net.  So he took off his trousers, knotted the legs and used them to carry the fish back home.”

He clearly had far more luck with his catches than I have had!!   The photograph used for this “Open House” postcard was by D. Hamilton.

Back Cover

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