The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Collector's Corner #3

I collect lots of stuff.  I tend to get obsessed and focus on one thing for a few weeks, and the move onto something else.  I'm nothing if not flighty.  That said, I usually come round to my 'old' collections again eventually.  And that's just what's happened with my collection of vintage postcards of Leicester recently.

I originally started collecting them (via eBay, naturally!) to locate ghost signs (another of my geeky train-spotterish-ish obsessions).  But, very quickly I began to love them simply for their representations of Leicester in the past.  It's really engaging to take a familiar landmark, such as the Clock Tower, and try to locate the old view within the present landscape.  And, in the case of the Clock Tower, that is particularly difficult as the surrounding environs have altered so dramatically.  

I also love the old fashions.  The cars and trams.  The colourful shop awnings.  The relief that some parts of Leicester remain relatively intact despite the best efforts of city planners of the 60s and 70s.  Indeed, some areas, like New Walk, have barely changed at all in the last 100 years.

New Walk, Leicester

Vintage postcards can generally be picked up for a few pounds on eBay.  The most prized appear be unused, but personally I like the stamps and postmarks, the personal messages.  So, I have tendency to gravitate towards postally-used cards.  I also have a preference for RP (real photographic) images, exactly because I'm mostly interested in the historical information they provide.

I also collect postcards featuring my home village, Ufford in Suffolk.  These are not nearly as numerous, as one would expect, so I get really excited (and home sick) when they do turn up!  

Best Wishes from Ufford

Why do I continue to collect?  What is my collection for?  Well, I keep on collecting because it is a relatively cheap way of investing in historical material.  It helps to fuel my enthusiasm for living in Leicester, particularly when I was going through a particularly difficult period when I wanted to be anywhere but.  And, as I think I wrote in my previous post about my eBay habit, I like to think I'm rescuing them, preserving them for the future.  I'm bidding on a few more examples at the moment.  If you're interested, please have a look at my Flickr photostream, where you'll find photographs of each of the cards in my collection.

Happy collecting!

Granby Street, Leicester


Jeremy said...

Hi Amy. Cool stuff, and brilliant that you're using Flickr to hold them. If you've not already done so, you should geo-locate them (just drag them onto the map in Flickr) then people will find them as they look around the map there - even if they're not looking at your photo stream. Next thing would be to get hold of old maps of Leicester and lay them over Google Maps, put your photos on top, cool....

Amy said...

Hmmm, that sounds like a post-PhD project! ;)

J said...

Love the New Walk postcard! Their dresses are yum!

Ceri said...

I have some old maps of Leicester Amy if you want to follow Jeremy's suggestion (good one!) - well they are modern repros but show the old streets!

I have a book of old Sheffield photos called 'Then and Now' where the author has done just that, gone back to the street and taken a picture in the same location to show the changes. We should do something like that for Leicester!!

Ken said...

Hi - I'm trying to find a segment of Leicester Map showing Thornton Lane around 1935 (demolished in 1960's). I think near Redcross St (also probably gone), and it was a shortcut to Highcross St. Possibly not far from cattle market on Aylestone Rd. Any ideas? (Hard to get from Australia!).