Leather Postcard Frenzy!

Sending postcards started in Canada in 1871. Like ‘text messaging’ on smartphones today, postcards were the late nineteenth century equivalent to a quick, efficient low-cost way to communicate between family and friends.

In the 1870s postcards were government issued and were printed on plain card stock, with one side reserved for addresses and the other side for messages. Publishing companies began producing postcards in the 1880s, highlighting significant fairs and events like the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1892). By 1895, postcards with humorous messages, cartoon drawings, and photographs were widely accepted in Canada and by 1905, collecting and sending postcards had turned into a full-blown craze.

It was during this time, the golden age of postcards, that leather postcards became popular. Donated to the museum collection in 2019, this wall display is made of thirty leather postcards dated from 1903 until 1908. Relatively short-lived, leather postcards were eventually banned from the postal service in 1910 because of the damage they inflicted on the sorting machines. They were typically made of deer hide with pictures on the front, burned and dyed into the leather by a process called pyrography. With holes punched alongside the top, bottom and sides, women collectors were encouraged to sew leather postcards together to create wall displays and even pillows.

Photo Gallery: WCMA_Leather Postcard will appear here on the public site.

This wall display (WCMA, 2019.47.4) was sewn together by Mamie Francis Ruth Small of Peel Township. The postcards were addressed to B. Peterkin of Arthur but were given to Mamie, while she was the family’s live-in seamstress around 1910.

For more information on the WCMA Postcard Collection please visit our online collections catalogue link below.

WCMA Postcard Collection


 thumbnail image of colouring activity, leather postcardWe would love to see your beautiful coloured postcard. Don't forget to take a photograph of your finished drawing and share with us on social media! Tag @wellingtncounty on Facebook and Twitter Hashtag #ColourOurCollections #WCMA.  

Download Colouring Activity pdf

© 2023 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909