The World War I Embroidered Silk Postcards



Embroidered by hand, silk thread on silk organza, these vivid cards whizzed across Europe to the loved and the missed during World War I. 

Stitched at home by French and Belgium women, they were created as a batch on one silk strip, then sent to a factory for cutting and framing.  




Look closely: many are actually envelopes. Inside them, another envelope; a translucent, onion-skin one. Inside that, a tiny printed card to write on, coloured by hand.


To the sender it's about wrapping your message again and again in something bright, pretty and precious. To the recipient it’s about glimpses of what's within; the handwriting you’re aching to see.



Propped on a mantelpiece or bedside table, most of these cards became sun-faded, yellowed with nicotine, torn and discarded.


Fortunately this collection was kept in an album so those silk dyes hold true. I find the past much more tangible when you see things as they did.


Forget-me-knots feature heavily, as do the words ‘love’, ‘kiss’ and ‘home’.

My favourite? This celebration of the end (below), shown in detail at the start of this post and in full here.

We were victorious. It is over. 



Update: A comment left by Bill on this post has alerted me to his extensive collection of these cards, view them at  http://www.silkpostcard.co.uk/


Invitation to comment: Are these cards a revelation to you, or does your Gran have some stashed in her attic? 

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Comments

  1. I love these old cards myself - I have several I have inherited from an Aunt, her 21st birthday cards and Christmas cards, there's a beauty in handling them and also in the memories they evoke, she was a vary favorite Aunt!

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  2. Angela:

    These cards are exquisite. I can't believe the floss has maintained such vibrant color--and the organza is so bright and unstained--after all these decades.

    Clearly someone treasured and protected these precious momentos over the years--lucky for us.

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  3. Thank you both for adding to the post. Having looked on the web for other images of cards, I can see this collection is in very good condition by comparison. The album is full, around 30 cards, it was difficult to pick those to include. There are also photographic cards and painted cards in other albums, another post for another time!

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  4. Hi

    You might like to see my silk postcard collection at www.silkpostcard.co.uk

    Regards Bill

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  5. Hello Bill. Thanks for the link, your collection is beautiful and very extensive. A fantastic online record.

    Angela

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  6. I've never seen anything like them before. Beautiful!

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  7. Thank you Carla, they're even more amazing to touch, I am lucky enough to have this collection in my family.

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  9. I have an album full of postcards that were sent to my great aunt starting in 1911 by her future husband was in the Army stationed in France. Each one has a special message to his love. I cherish these.

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    Replies
    1. What a wonderful family heirloom you have and so romantic. Will Facebook updates have the same resonance in 100 years from now?

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  10. I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

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