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Postcards provide a much richer source of imagery than most of us ever imagined. An extraordinary range has been printed in Australia, particularly in the golden period between 1900 and the First World War.
After an introduction to set the scene, Moments in Time covers postcards of just about everything - war and peace, disasters and celebrations, holidays and home life, sports and theatre, rural and city living, love for 'The Dear Old Country' and pride in Australia - to name a few.
Postcards were a major form of communication for a century. Although few people send them now, old postcards have an immediacy about them that is striking. They become projectiles for the past, particularly when augmented by a message that gives a glimpse of another life, another time.
The author has not attempted a critical work; rather he has endeavoured to present an appreciation of the part postcards have made in documenting Australia's history, social changes and shifts in ideas, particularly in the Edwardian period and Federation Australia.
In the introductory passages, Jim canvasses the origins of the postcard, the emphasis upon topographical cards, the role of the postcard as a mass means of communication and their development into an object of collection - particularly of the feminine collectable. There are also some interesting passages which explore the entrepreneurship of some in the trade during the formative years of postcard publishing in Australia, and there is also comment on the decline of the postcard after its "golden age".
The more recent impetus in postcard collecting is also covered and, in part, Jim acknowledges the contribution of the Australian Cartophilic Society in this growing interest. No doubt, Moments in Time will further appreciate postcards as collectables.
There are some 300 postcards displayed in this book, which draw on the National Library of Australia's postcard collection and Jim organizes the postcard images alphabetically, according to subject matter and topics, not themes -so avoiding the subjective task of thematic groupings. Each subject is accompanied by a few paragraphs which are incisive and considerate and which also place the cards in context.
Postcards cover a multiplicity of subjects and, as the author acknowledges, not all subjects can be covered and a personal choice of what to include (and exclude) in the book had to be made, and this the author did with "an historian's eye". Jim presents a fragment of Australia's past through his selection of postcards.
Great pleasure was received from viewing the cards which Jim selected. The pleasure was principally visual, but pleasure was also gained from the information presented by the cards and by their touch of nostalgia.
Moments in Time is a beautifully presented book and it will be a valuable reference for postcard collectors and, more broadly, to those interested in Australia's social, cultural and political past.