where we have been and where we are going
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
we're keeping on keeping on...
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
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!
for reading Keep safe
by Craig Oldham: 1068 May they never