The following excerpt (by kind permission) is from the book of Stavros G. Lazarides: Theodoulos N. Toufexis – An illustrated Guide to Early Twentieth Century Cyprus: its History and its People, Laiki Group Cultural Centre, Nicosia 2004. For additional information regarding the postcards of Cyprus see Panorama of Cyprus 1899-1930, Athens 1987 by the same author.
About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things.
John Appleseed

A Picture Post Card: A real photographic image or a wonderful painting?
Either way it is a piece of printed art destined to carry its written message as well as the voice of its image around the globe.

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The History of Cyprus Picture Postcards

Picture postcards have been part of everyday life for the last hundred years. Yet, in spite of the limitless variety available today, we tend not to notice them unless we are travelling. It is easy to write a few lines on a card, stick a stamp on the back and send it off to relatives or friends, greeting them and assuring them of our health and safety. In this way, we avoid expensive telephone calls and long letters. Picture postcards, however, have a message in their own right, and a fascinating history.
In our days, few people are aware that in the early 1900s millions of picture postcards were printed and put into circulation in many countries, including Cyprus. Their subjects comprised landscapes, beauty spots, town views, national costumes, wars, and historical and social events. Perhaps what is most important is that they conveyed good wishes for every occasion. The colours and design of these old postcards are outstanding, and discerning collectors consider many of them real works of art. In particular the years 1900-1918 are referred to as the golden age of the postcard. During this period, postcards became an increasingly popular means of communication, either because they did not cost much, or, perhaps because the combination of the picture and the sender's hand-written message greatly enhanced their sentimental appeal.

In addition to its practical uses for communication, however, the postcard acquired another kind of value, namely, that of a collector's item. From the very beginning, the practice of collecting postcards spread rapidly throughout both Europe and America. Rich or poor, every family had its special box or album in which they eagerly collected as many postcards as they could afford. To look at them from time to time was an exquisite pleasure, giving rise to dreams of fascinating and romantically exotic places.
Since cards were in such demand, and collecting them had become a worldwide craze, publishers continued to issue them in abundance. As a result, businesses involving design, painting, photography, lithography, printing and publishing all flourished.

Nevertheless, in the aftermath of World War I, public interest in the postcard waned. There was increasing indifference to its value as a collectible item, and its usefulness as a means of communication lessened considerably. This was the result of a number of factors: increased postage charges for cards; the development of telecommunications; the fact that many people could use a camera; the increased readership of newspapers and magazines. Possibly the most important factor was that of improved transport facilities, which made travelling faster, more accessible and comfortable, and above all, affordable.

John Foscolo's Lady in Cypriot Costume. Early coloured postcard.

The indifference of collectors continued right up to the early 1970s, when people took up the hobby of postcard collecting again. All over the world, there are now tens of thousands of collectors of old postcards.

The history of picture postcards dates back to about 1870, when the first ones were printed for Christmas in England and Germany. The first topographical postcards were indisputably printed in Zurich in March 1872, but the popularization of postcards occurred in 1882 when displays of postcards at the Paris Exhibition aroused public interest and their use was adopted right away.
In the beginning, postcards had space for a short message on the illustrated side because, according to the regulations of the Universal Postal Union, only the address of the recipient could be written on the back of the postcard. Subsequently, with aesthetic improvement in mind, both England and France – the former in 1902 and the latter in 1903 – were the first to use a vertical line dividing the back into two parts. The right half was for the recipient's address and the left for a longer message. Shortly after this, the U.P.U endorsed the Franco-British initiative and several other countries were soon to follow, including Cyprus in 1904.

The back of a picture postcard where only the address could be written according to the rules.
When these changed -quite early- one could draw a vertical line, thus dividing the back for dual use: The address at the right and a message at the left. In this postcard the stamp was placed on the front . . . spoiling (?) the image as can be seen in the
below photo of this postcard.

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The use of postcards in Cyprus cannot be traced as far back as in America and Europe. While in many countries of the world picture postcards had already had a history of a few decades, they were practically unknown to people in Cyprus, at least until 1901. The only exceptions were travellers and those who received correspondence from abroad. Quite inexplicably, the Cypriot Post Office would not deal with correspondence on private “letter-cards”, plain or illustrated. In March 1902, G. Nicolopoulos wrote in his newspaper, The Voice of Cyprus:

We do not know whether it would be too daring to suggest the introduction in our Post Office services of the illustrated postcard, which is already in use in Europe as well as in Greece. We have such historic monuments and lovely places in Cyprus that, shown on postcards which are sent all over the world, they will attract the attention and interest of the outside world, which knows little or nothing about us and our island. Let this, at least, be done, Mr. Hore, since we have no regular transportation abroad, no efficient domestic postal services, nor Post Office Savings Banks as there are in other countries, where people who work for a living may entrust their daily savings; we have no postmen, and our Post Office services are a far cry from those of the European countries.

It is not known if the author of this article was aware that, at the time of writing, John P. Foscolo in Limassol had already put on the market the first batch of illustrated postcards. The earliest confirmed date of a Cyprus postcard is 2nd March 1902. Since Foscolo had his cards printed in Germany, the order would probably have been made sometime towards the end of 1901. It is definite that several cards were mailed in envelopes as from the beginning of 1902. However, it should be noted that postcards with Cypriot themes were privately printed long before the systematic publication and circulation of postcards was undertaken by Cypriot publishers. The earliest known dated postcard is a privately produced one that shows a view of Famagusta and which is pasted on the back of a U.P.U Cyprus imprinted postcard. This was mailed in September 1899 to Lussinpiccolo, an island in the Adriatic. However, the first printed postcard of Cyprus of any great interest is one dated 31 October 1901, which was published by an unknown individual, and that illustrates a flock of sheep grazing somewhere in Cyprus. Ina, the sender, writes:

My dearest Gladys, Cyprus possesses no picture postcards so I have been obliged to print myself some. I hope you will like it...

At the same time that Foscolo was issuing postcards, a bookstore owner by the name of Apostolos C. loannides, the operator of the two largest bookstores on the island (one in Nicosia and another in Limassol), was also introducing some into circulation. In the newspaper The Voice of Cyprus, of April 1902, there is an article entitled Picture Postcards, in which we read:

I have before me picture postcards, which are on sale at Mr. Ioannides' bookstore in Limassol. They are all very artistic and I would recommend them to everyone. But there are not enough of these cards. Cyprus has an abundance of most beautiful and romantic views, which could also be publicised in this way. Ayia Sophia in Nicosia, the picturesque avenue of trees at Kykko Monastery, the castle at Kolossi, and many other subjects should be photographed for this purpose. Here, I should note that the picture of the Gothic cathedral in Famagusta is excellent. This elegant edifice, however, is not Ayia Sophia but Ayios Nikolaos, and I am grieved to note that this is a recurring error.

Five months later, on 7 August 1902, official approval was granted for postcards issued by private individuals to be used for correspondence. This approval was given by the Cyprus Postmaster, E. H. Hore, and published in the Government Gazette No. 737 of 15 August 1902. Here are the main points:

His Excellency the High Commissioner, in exercise of the powers vested in him by the above-named Ordinance, is pleased to direct the publication of following Regulations with regard to the use of privately manufactured postcards: - On and from the 1st September, 1902, cards of private manufacture, with adhesive postage stamps affixed to them in payment of the postage, may be sent as postcards to any Union country, provided that every such postcard shall, in respect of size, correspond with that of the Official Foreign Postcard [...] Engravings or advertisements may be printed on the face as well as on the back of a postcard but not so as to interfere in any way with the postage stamp or clear indication of the address or with the stamping or marking of the Postal Service.

The postcard became widely used in Cyprus for correspondence. In the years that followed, many publishers, mainly photographers and bookstore owners, published many postcards depicting scenery, town views, archaeological sites, folklore and pictures of historic, political, cultural and social interest. It is estimated that about 800-900 postcards depicting different themes were printed between 1901 and 1925, 600-700 between 1926 and 1935, while another 1000-1300, primarily photographic postcards, were put into circulation between 1936 and 1960.