Margate Bookie: A tale of Postcards from the Past

Postcard from the Past

By Francesca Baker

When J Salmon – Britain’s oldest postcard publisher – announced it was to cease trading in 2017, it blamed a decline in postcards on social media. People can communicate instantly, making the form of letter obsolete.

But it wasn’t always that way. Postcards used to be a seaside and holiday staple. As Tom Jackson’s witty book and Twitter account Postcards From The Past shows.

Tom said of the project: “I started posting postcards on Twitter. Not for their collectable beauty or even for their historic interest, but simply because I had one or two knocking about the house and the messages intrigued me. But as soon as I saw them pop up on my phone, I was hooked.

“I could see that, presented this way, the messages on the most ordinary old postcards were loaded with a humour and poignancy that, despite their age, is startlingly fresh. Something like gold glitters behind the faded ink and smudged postmarks.”

“As a historic artefact highlighting social history, they are fascinating. As an insight to personal tales, enthralling.

“It’s our own lives that are written on these cards and if, by isolating some words from their context, a cliché feels more raw or more real, or the everyday absurdities of life make you laugh out loud, then I’m at least half-way to doing my job. It strikes me that the past is funny and odd and serious and heart-breaking and packed full of people who feel a lot like us.”

And now Tom is bringing his tales to Margate Bookie with a live recording of his podcast. In every episode of Podcast from the Past, Tom welcomes to the studio two guests, each armed with old postcards they couldn’t bear to throw away. In funny, human, revealing and often moving conversations, they share the memories, mysteries and stories held by those postcards. These stories are the heart of Podcast from the Past.

In this special edition, guests will be Dr Karen Shepherdson, Director of the South East Archive of Seaside Photography and one of the curators of the Seaside Photographed exhibition at the Turner Contemporary, and Scott Pack, top editor.

Podcast from the Past takes place at Turner Contemporary on Saturday, November 23 from 4pm. Margate Bookie takes place from November 22-24 and coincides with the Turner Prize being resident at the Turner Contemporary.

To find out more go to or buy tickets, costing from £6, direct from Eventbrite.

You can see more about Postcards From The Past here –