Vintage People on Photo Postcards

Tom Phillips


Tom Phillips

Distributed for the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

With a Foreword by David Lodge
112 pages | 200 color plates | 7 x 7 1/2 | © 2010
Cloth $15.00 ISBN: 9781851243594 Published February 2011 For sale in North America only

To celebrate the acquisition of the archive of distinguished artist Tom Phillips, the Bodleian Library asked the artist to assemble and design a series of books drawing on his themed collection of over 50,000 photographic postcards. These encompass the first half of the twentieth century, a period in which, thanks to the ever cheaper medium of photography, ordinary people could afford to own portraits of themselves. Each book in the series contains two hundred images chosen from a visually rich vein of social history. Their covers also feature thematically linked paintings, specially created for each title, from Phillips’s signature work, A Humument.

, as its title suggests, shows people reading (or pretending to read) a wide variety of material, from the Bible to Film Fun, either in the photographer’s studio, in their own home, or on vacation on the beach. Each of these unique and visually stunning books give a rich glimpse of forgotten times and will be greatly valued by art and history lovers alike.



      David Lodge


      Tom Phillips


General Comments and Notes

Review Quotes
Brian Lund, editor, Picture Postcard Monthly

“Picture postcards from a century ago capture unique moments in time and place and are a wonderful social history record. Tom Phillips is adept at seeking out and choosing amazingly evocative postcard images.”

Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London
“These images are captivating visual vignettes. We may not know who the subjects are, but the postcards offer us a glimpse of their interests, their time, and their world. Tom Phillips’s exceptional collection gives us a fascinating chance to retrieve something of these lives.”
Oxford Times (UK)
“The collection starts in 1902, when the post office allowed personal messages as well as addresses on the backs of postcards. In addition, the proliferation of photographic studios and the mass production of the Box Brownie meant that, for the for the first time, ‘ordinary’ people could afford to own their portraits, and to have them replicated as postcards for only a penny a card.”
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