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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”