During the First World War, many Allied officers and soldiers based in France sent silk embroidered postcards to their loved ones back home, in particular to Britain and Canada. From 1917, when American soldiers had arrived in northern France, they also started to send these cards to their families and friends. Many of the cards were illustrated with patriotic symbols, flags, slogans, or sentimental texts.
The embroidery has often been said to be the work of Belgian and French refugee women, as a means to eke out a meagre existence. However, it is evident that the embroidery was carried out by commercial firms using hand embroidery machines. Such firms also produced embroidered cards for the German market, although with different symbols and texts!
The TRC would like to thank Dr. Ian Collins for his help in collecting various postcards and his help in writing the text.
For further information, see a TRC blog of 18 December 2015 and a special entry in TRC Needles.
Videos showing early hand-embroidery machines in use:
For this online exhibition: