So by keeping in the black and the overheads low, Leeds Postcards has managed to carry on publishing new political postcards and stay in print. Postcards, a much loved medium are perhaps here to stay with a different audience. A less virtual, more permanent way to express and share your views.

Backstory; where we have been and where we are going

It all started in the summer of 1979 when Richard Scott, who worked as an editor at AJ Arnold, the Leeds-based educational publisher, set up Leeds Postcards from his home in Leeds. An active Trade Unionist and member of the CPGB the first card he published was for health and safety at work sponsored by the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS).

Richard realised that whereas permission for posters to be put up in the workplace was often needed and refused there was no ban of postcards being displayed on desks. Inspired by the political postcards of Klaus Staeck in Germany and his experience in publishing, Leeds Postcards was born.

In 1984 Richard moved Leeds Postcards out of his home to Aire Street Workshops in and was joined by fellow CPGB activist Richard Honey to separately set up Leeds Distribution Distribution is the key to success in publishing as it controls what you are able to publish, large distributors like WH Smiths and Menzies had already refused to carry the cards as they were seen as too political. It was also the year of the miners' strike and together with the NUM, Leeds Postcards published sets of postcards in support of the strike with many artists contributing their work to the cause. The Leeds Postcards Miner's Strike Fund was set up for the proceeds of the postcards. In October Richard employed Christine Hankinson (me) who had experience in educational publishing and newspapers in London. With front page adverts in the Guardian for the sets of postcards in return for donations to The Miners Strike Fund, over 50,000 was raised and donated to the fund by the end of the year.

During 1985 it was decided that the three would become a workers collective. Northern Trading Co-operative Company Ltd bought Leeds Postcards from Richard Scott and it was registered with Scott, Honey and Hankinson as directors at Companies House in November 1986.

Gradually we moved on to producing and selling greeting cards and introduced many other ranges; art cards, womens' artist cards (published jointly with Cath Tate Cards) t-shirts, wrapping paper and posters. The 'peasant paintings' from Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign were particularly popular, soon to be followed by ranges of greeting cards for Anti Apartheid Enterprises and Women and Turkeys Against Christmas by Angela Martin became our top selling and first xmas card. We were printing the cards on recycled board and using soya based inks...no one else was doing this.

By 1988 it was decided to expand the collective of workers: Steve Edwards whose business selling cards to students was one of our strongest sales outlets became a member in January 1989 and Alison Sheldon who had been working in despatch joined us in November 1989 followed by Dinah Clark.

1991 was a time when many of the major campaigns that Leeds Postcards had both fought for had succeeded or failed: Nelson Mandela was freed in February 1990; Margaret Thatcher was ousted from power in November 1990; Sandanistas lost power in Nicaragua and of course the Berlin wall fell in November 1989 followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Big changes were afoot. Richard Scott resigned

With five full time workers and two large units at Aire Street Workshops Leeds Postcards found itself ill prepared to meet the recession of the early 90's. Struggling to pay wages four members resigned. I bought the title of Leeds Postcards, the archives, core stock , and computer from the liquidator and moved it into my house in Headingley. With no rent, no staff, no wages to pay and doing all the pre-press work myself it was possible to keep Leeds Postcards going.

In 1999 Adam Waller, a Goldsmiths arts graduate and fan of Leeds Postcards, moved up to Leeds and worked for Leeds Postcards. He inspired curator Nigel Walsh at Leeds City Art Gallery to run an exhibition of Leeds Postcards and in In 2000 the exhibition called Viva Leeds 21 years of Leeds Postcards opened and ran at the art gallery for 6 months. It later toured art galleries in Cumbria and Northern Ireland.

In 2008 Thea Mallett joined Leeds Postcards. She oversaw the building of a new website with technology for online buying www.leedspostcards.co.uk and thanks to her Leeds Postcards is still here.

and then....In 2018 award-winning graphic designer Craig Oldham (see card below) approached me as he wanted to publish a book on Leeds Postcards and Four Corners Books, the highly regarded art book publisher were eager to publish it. (It is a beautifully produced book in hardback and a bargain at 12).

2023 we're keeping on keeping on... by keeping in the black and the overheads low. Postcards, a much loved medium are perhaps here to stay with a different audience. A less virtual, more permanent way to express and share your views we will settle for our cards having pricked the odd conscience, raised an awkward question or wittily revealed a political irony. As Creative Review said 'they are like printed memes' Thats right!

Thanks for reading Keep safe

Christine Hankinson

card by Craig Oldham: 1068 May they never

Leeds Postcards is run by Christine Hankinson and Thea Mallett and is based in Headingley Leeds.

4 Granby Road, Leeds LS6 3AS. (0113) 278 7540 email: xtine@leedspostcards.com

 

 

home you can buy here SHOPS order here