Mille Baisers

Mille Baisers is dedicated to a genre of romantic fantasy postcard coming out of France in the 1920s and early 1930s. These cards are, generally, real photographs with bright colours, striking fashions, and dramatically romantic poses.

a noyer 4031 hi def (194x300) bleuet 827 (188x300) Pc Paris 3007-2 (187x300) leo 358-3 (188x300) A Noyer 1796-1 (185x300)

 I began to collect these postcards in early 2013, while in graduate school studying photographic history and preservation. Quickly I discovered a near-utter lack of information about them, and resolved to change that. My collection–the core of Mille Baisers–now numbers over 300 postcards. With this collection I am piecing together their story. Both the study and the collection are very much works in progress, but it’s important to me to share the delight in that work.

Because honestly–these postcards are fun. They can be lovely. They can be kitschy. While modernist photographers were embracing the aesthetic of the straight photograph, a large proportion of society was buying photographs that were garishly tinted, glittered, and bright pink.

pc paris 2639-2 (188x300) pc paris 3034 (186x300) A Noyer 3953

The postcards are also wonderful for the ways they are more than images. The vast majority in my collection were written and sent. They are pieces of someone’s story–often, given the subject matter, a love story.

fotocelere 29-4 verso (300x192)

This collection, project, and site are entirely my own labour of love (in my professional life I study snapshots). In doing this my hope is for some of that love to be passed on.

a noyer 1804 (188x300) a noyer 1841 (190x300) lb 451 (185x300) Leo 716 (187x300) pc paris 3286 (188x300)

All postcards come from my own collection, with the occasional exception in the essays, thanks to the kindness of a dear friend and fellow postcard enthusiast. Research and conclusions are entirely mine, and subject to revision with future discoveries.

Mille baisers” is an affectionate French way of ending a letter, about the equivalent of “lots of love” or xoxoxo. It literally means “a thousand kisses.”

6 thoughts on “Mille Baisers

  1. What a fantastic site! I just wish some of the postcards weren’t so heavily colored in–it makes them hard to see. I know that was “The Thing” to do in those days to make them more interesting, but nowadays someone like me is more interested in what they are wearing than the postcard. Silly, I know, but we followers of fashion trends take our fixes where we can.

  2. Hi! Love these cards! My husband just recently got into collecting these types of postcards. He first discovered them at a local antique store. He is a romantic at heart and just fell in love with them. Thank you for sharing your findings!

  3. I collect these beautiful and fascinating cards as well. One of the things that I love apart from the colours and fashions, is that the same models are used
    over and over again. I wish I could find out some of the models identities and their stories too. A friend collects the male model postcards, and I think he
    may be the man in your blue sepia headline photo. Sometimes he is in street clothes, carrying flowers, or dressed as a pierrot. I guess who they were will
    remain a mystery…

    • Yes, this fascinates me to! There is especially the one male model who is in tons of them, over at least a decade– I’ve been following him to! I’d absolutely love to someday find some way of tracing even hints of who the actual people were, but I think it might take a huge stroke of luck…

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