Cartoons Launched Online as Templeman Hosts Saucy Seaside Postcard Exhibition

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By Matt Gilley on 3.10.2023

Cartoons Launched Online as Templeman Hosts Saucy Seaside Postcard Exhibition


On September 24th the British Cartoon Archive at UKC launched 35,000 new images in its online collection. An exhibition, including saucy seaside postcards from the 1950s, is located by the café on the first floor of the Templeman Library on campus, and is centred around Margate.

Once a staple of British seaside culture, the postcards were subject to a severe crackdown by Conservative governments after 1951. Originally coordinated by Sir Theobald Matthew, then Director of Public Prosecutions, the campaign reached a climax in 1953 with the destruction of 32,603 postcards.

Part of the exhibition is dedicated to the haphazard nature of the campaign; what was obscene in Margate could be acceptable in Ramsgate, and vice versa. Others will prefer the most notorious cartoons and the odd methods of investigating shops – “Would you sell this to your daughter?” for example.

Adding to the academic interest of the exhibition are legal documents and notes from some of the campaign’s prosecutions. Notably there are some concerning David McGill, one of the foremost postcard artists of the time.

After the release from censorship of D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ in 1960 the campaign became somewhat impotent and subsided. The postcards are now one of the many curiosities of British social history, and part of a rich cartooning tradition. Other new online additions include more recent, political entries into that tradition from the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror as well as commentaries from leading cartoonists of today. It can all be found at and the postcard exhibition runs until 13th November 2011.


Have you seen the exhibition in the Templeman Library? What did you make of the postcards? Leave a comment below or tell us on Facebook (InQuire Live) or Twitter (@inquirelive).



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