Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Monday, 13 October 2008

Comic Postcards and the Law

When the flower shop at the top of Margate High Street closed some time back another chapter in the chronicles of our seaside heritage disappeared. This time the casualty being the comic postcards that were very popular during the post war "kiss me quick" hat era of seaside sauciness through to the 1970's. The flower shop was run by Fred Houghton who to many throughout the trade knew him as Mr Postcard. Over the years he sold thousands of saucy postcards to the working class day trippers who loved their double meanings of references to sex and nudity. Postcards by the arch villain depending how you look at it, was the Picasso of the Pier, Donald Mcgill were very popular.
Mcgill postcards were artistic and took the sexual double meanings and references to the very edge, the public loved it but the local authorities didn't. Fred sold these postcards along with those by Bamforths Postcards from his shops in the High Street, Cliff Terrace,Newgate gap kiosk and on the end of Margate Jetty. I asked him once whether he had run ins with the law over the years and with a mischievous grin he replied "Yes". In fact during the 1950's people were always on his case and he loved it and the old fox never got done . He told me that the best place to sell the best postcards was on the end of the Jetty just before the boats picked people up to take them home. All it needed was a good lookout out and it was money for old rope.
He told me about a raid in the 1950's when Postcards by Donald Mcgill were targeted by the police in Margate in 1953. I asked Suzannah Foad at the Margate Museum if there were any articles in the 1953 newspaper archive about these raids and she found an article that on the 19th August 1953 the police raided a number of shops in Margate and confiscated 1,824 comic postcards, mostly those by Donald Mcgill. The case went to court in October 1953 and the cards were ordered to be destroyed.
I have attached an article for download which I did for the Margate Historical Society giving more details on the court case.
In the years before the closure I started buying comic postcards from Fred just for the interesting conversations, plus I had persuaded the Margate Museum to start a collection of comic postcards of which I donated many.


Anonymous said...

I got to see the infamous postcards when working at the Home Office which then had resposibity for the obsenity laws. They were kept in what was affectionately known as "the porn cupboard". It was in fact a small office with cupboards and cabinets stuffed full (no pun) with all manner of confiscated "filth". There was I recall a first edition "Lady Chatterly's Lover" but most of it was more gynaecological in nature. The room was always locked when not being visited and the custodian of the key was always a lady. I do wonder whether the cards are still there and if they could not be made more available to the public?

Tony Beachcomber said...

Annon, thank you for that information.