Theodore Hook, of London was in 1840, the first person to post a postcard, in fact it was to himself. This card was bearing the Penny Black stamp. During the 1850s, post boxes were making
an appearance on roadsides. It wasn’t until the 1890s that the British publishers could manufacture and distribute postcards. The first one in Swansea was published in 1898, showing
Swansea Bay (top pic right), and the recently built Mumbles Pier. Mumbles was becoming a favourite destination, and could be visited using of the Mumbles Train. Postcards would have
pictures of local areas around Swansea, including the Swansea Hospital (2nd pic down on the right) and the Police Station in Alexandra Road (3rd pic down on right). Could the message have been ‘wish
you were here’?
Meanwhile, photography was being developed (no pun intended!). The earliest photo which was taken was during 1826, was by French man, Nicephore Niepce. It is the work of Mary Dillwyn, of
Penllergarer, during the 1840s that is thought to have captured the first smile, also the first snowman! Her album, containing 42 salt prints and 1 albumen print can be found in the National
Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
The popularity of photography during the 1860s enabled Samuel Chapman to open a photographic studio in York Street, then later in High Street. His son Henry, opened his own shop at No 235 High Street
(bottom pic right). Today this shop is an amusement arcade. Henry produced the extremely popular card-blacked portraits, at a cost of 2d. Also produced were studio postcards, which
could be sent to family members.
Colour photographs were available as early as 1860s, but it would be a further 60 years before it became widely available. Photographs have taken over from postcards, which sadly are rarely
posted today. As a researcher, I would advise people, to use a pencil to label the back of their photograph with details of who are depicted and the date, in years to come it will enable people to be
identified and not just be a face in a crowd.