JWS Postcards

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JWS postcards


Bathing huts at West Park

JWS stood for Joseph Welch and Sons, a Portsmouth company in business from the beginning of the 20th century until the Great War. They published nearly 4000 postcards, mostly of locations in the south of England and the Channel Islands.

This is an abridged version of a history of the company which appears on the postcard website www.ukpostcard.co.nz.

"Joseph Welch and Sons, of Portsmouth, appear (from postcard dates I have seen) to have run a postcard publishing business from around 1900 to around 1914. One card (#54) with a divided back (and therefore probably produced after 1904) shows 'Elm Grove, Southsea, previous to 1897', which suggests that they already had an inventory of pictures to hand prior to the 'postcard boom'.
"Information to hand now indicates that the business ran from 1864 to 1936, originally as a photographic publishing concern, and published some books of views of South Coast towns. The three sons Horace, Ernest, and Claude operated with each covering different areas: East coast and Kent (Horace); IOW, Portsmouth, Cornwall, and Devon (Ernest); CI, Bournemouth, Brighton, and Isle of Man (Claude). Claude moved to Derby around 1914, which may account for the (relatively few) Derbyshire and Lancashire postcard views. I have one example of a later series of RP postcards used in 1933 (see "second series", 416A).


"The first period postcards were produced in Belgium, in Saxony, and in England post WWI.
Series numbering
"The series is generally numbered, and there is a broad correlation between numbering and location: The highest numbered card I have seen is 3954 (a Jersey card).

Among the early cards (numbers 1-99) there seem to have been three different series in the same number range: (a) Mostly Bournemouth and Portsmouth; (b) Isle of Wight (fewer of these, and usually also found renumbered with a number outside this range); and (c) a few comic 'fortune teller' cards.

"The same numbers have been seen used for coloured and sepia/black and white cards showing the same scene, plus in some cases the same number has been reused for the same scene but this has evidently been rephotographed at a later date. Analysis is further complicated because the editor frequently added or removed people from scenes - in some cases the added people are either grossly out of proportion, or so crudely pasted in that outlines are clearly visible / shadows are inconsistent. I have several examples of three different cards showing the same scene but with 'tweaked' foreground figures. There are a few cards showing different scenes with the same number or with no number at all, these presumably are production errors.
"Some earlier cards have two titles visible, one prominent and one not, possibly the result of an earlier unnumbered series being brought into the numbered series. Some cards were produced with a 'wood frame' ornamental border, with the series number appearing on the address side of the card at lower left. These are generally photolitho cards with a gelatine coating.

Printing processes

"There were two main different printing processes deployed. The early coloured cards, produced in Belgium and in Saxony, were often made using a process referred to as "Trichromatic", which seems to have been similar to Woodburytype and produced pastel shades. Later coloured cards (usually using brighter colours and often with a clear coating), and many sepia-toned cards, were produced using a photolithographic process - screening dots are quite evident. I also have one undivided back card, unused, produced in black and white using a photolitho process, which presumably dates from around 1903.


"Postcards show scenes mostly in southern and southwestern counties, Isle of Wight, and the Channel Islands, although I have noted several Kent, Essex, and Sussex views and also a few of the northwest - Cheshire, Derbyshire, Isle of Man, Warwickshire, and Lancashire. There seem to be none of Wales, Scotland, or London and the Home Counties.

Card types

"Most cards I have seen are topographical, sometimes overprinted with greetings messages.
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