Silk Embroidered Postcards

Early 20th century silk embroidered postcard with the text "I love you". Early 20th century silk embroidered postcard with the text "I love you". TRC 2015.0447

5. Making embroidered postcards with a machine

Based on surviving examples, it is clear that strips (in domestic machine production) or very broad sheets (in factory production), both of organza cloth, were being embroidered with series of identical designs. Using hand-embroidery machines it was possible to produce hundreds of images on a sheet in one go.

2015.0438Postcard embroidered with a floral motif and the text "To my dear mother", worked with a Schiffli embroidery machine (TRC 2015.0432). Click illustration for TRC catalogue entry.

Once embroidered, the strips/sheets were cut up and the individual images were stuck into an embossed card frame. They were then sold to the public, especially the officers and soldiers, at a relatively high price.

The companies making and selling these cards could well have made a considerable profit. Perhaps this is the real reason behind the stories of poor refugee women working all hours to hand embroider these cards in order to feed their desperate families. 

Once it had been established that this form of postcard was very popular, and lucrative for producers and sellers, several companies started producing these cards using truly mechanical embroidery machines, which did not imitate hand embroidery.

In doing so, some companies used a Schiffli embroidery machine, which creates running and satin stitches (this machine uses a lock stitch with two threads, one on the front and one on the back of the ground material) or a Cornely embroidery machine (for chain stitched motifs), but these are not as well made as those produced on the hand-embroidery machine.