Purpose & Function


The reverse of the postcard, with outline in top right corner for stamp placement.

Edited corner.jpg

As seen the in the bottom right corner, the small #600-363

              Postcards were used as a form of communication, in short personalized notes with an image on the front. As a card, they do not allow for huge amounts of writing, but were popularly used as quick note cards, collectables depending on the collection or images printed on it, or as souvenirs and conversation pieces relating to where it had been sent from (“The History of Postcards.” The Art History Archive).  The popularization of these image cards lead to them being used as advertisements for a product, encouragement of travel for places such as landmarks, or as a keepsake. This particular postcard may have been part of a collection, as the bottom right corner of the image has a very faintly visible numbers #600-363. With this in mind, the postcard could have been purchased by someone visiting Guelph, as it is a semi-local attraction, being the first Sanitarium of its kind, using the large grounds, new treatment, and other newer practices to help their patients. It could have also been purchased by someone who had a family member connected to the Homewood Sanitarium, as a nurse or a patient.

     In the development and usage of early stamps in the world of postage methods, postcards were one of the first types of mail with a specifically outlined stamp placement (“When will your letter arrive?” Canada Post). This helped identify when this postcard was printed, as before the 1840’s the usage of stamps had not yet been developed, thus the postcard having an outline for the stamp would not make sense.  While this postcard has no handwritten message on it, it still can be used for purposes other than communication. The image portrays a local landmark in the  style both former and current of asylums in the world, with large grounds on a beautiful plot of land nearby the banks of Speed River. Thus, it can be used as a souvenir, a portrayal of the local landmark that could be visited or even was considered well renowned. It is also  a useful part of a collection, as on the image a small number that hints at the potential of it belonging to a larger group of postcards. A collection can then be used as a way to investigate or discover landmarks of the past, or events that were considered important or interesting in the time that they had been printed. As this website is an example of the uses of ephemera after they have lost their intended purpose, the historical usages are all part of understanding and interpreting these items and what they can show us today.

The library is committed to ensuring that members of our user community with disabilities have equal access to our services and resources and that their dignity and independence is always respected. If you encounter a barrier and/or need an alternate format, please fill out our Library Print and Multimedia Alternate-Format Request Form. Contact us if you’d like to provide feedback: lib.a11y@uoguelph.ca