Festival of Cards 2017 – Bath & West Showground

On Saturday, I went along to the Bath & West Showground for their annual Festival of Cards.  On arriving, I realized my mistake, this was obviously a 2-day job and I’d decided to arrive mid-morning on the second day.  There were a lot of dealers here, each with 1,000s of postcards and ephemera to look through.  I was simply never going to get around all of them, which sent my finder’s anxiety through the roof.

There were postcards of every type here.  Any collector would find more than a decent sized haul.  I bought over 100 so perhaps it was best I didn’t have time to look around all the stalls!  My favourite anthropomorphic animal illustrations were in abundance.  I particularly liked these 2 scenes.

I’ve also become a fan of Racey Helps after picking up a couple of packs of playing cards at a previous fair.  There were lots to chose from here but I decide on the moon landing one as the recent discovery of 7 exoplanets was fresh in my mind.  I also loved this illustration of 2 pups rooting through a mail sack.

I thought this cute little frog carried a nice sentiment, I found him in a box of odds for 50p! I love the momentum in the illustration, you can almost see him move as he darts away from the predatory birds.  In contrast I love the stillness of the black cat peering through the window.  A really striking and satisfying illustration.

Regular readers know my affection for anything weird and this lobster postcard definitely ticks those boxes. I’m also drawn to anything with coppery/orangey/red (okay – ginger!) and this card has a nice amount of that pleasing colour in the crustaceans.


Here’s some more weirdness in the form of a seasonal greeting from 1907.  Two devils appear to be corralling a (ginger!) man into hell.  Wishing you a Happy New Year is written on the back.  It wouldn’t be my first choice for a cheerful greeting 🙂

Some other finds I loved included this Animal Welfare postcard “He who is not actively kind is cruel” and a promotional postcard for Rusty, The Amazing Calculating Collie, who adds, subtracts and multiplies on demand. Perhaps not the kindest vocation for a dog, although it is nevertheless a document which shows how intelligent our animal friends are.

Another favourite find was this wonderful photo of a child with his best friend.  Aren’t they adorable? Anybody who grew up in or near a farm will relate to this. I love it.


This is just a small selection of my final haul.  More than a handful will undoubtedly turn up as greeting cards and/or influence my art.

As a side note, if you were thinking of attending the next Festival of cards, please know that it is an easy, enjoyable experience.  There is a huge amount of free parking, plenty of toilets, a great cafe/bar serving a variety of meals and snacks, coffee and cake, etc.  Also the hall is huge so there is lots of space in the gangways between stalls so no jostling or bumping occurs which is great.  Make sure you go to the next one!

Click here for details: Festival of Cards. Bath & West Showground



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