The series is generally numbered, and there is a broad correlation between numbering and location: The highest numbered card I have seen is 3954 (a Jersey card).
Among the early cards (numbers 1-99) there seem to have been three different series in the same number range: (a) Mostly Bournemouth and Portsmouth; (b) Isle of Wight (fewer of these, and usually also found renumbered with a number outside this range); and (c) a few comic "fortune teller" cards. These are listed separately on the "1-100" page.
The same numbers have been seen used for coloured and sepia/black and white cards showing the same scene, plus in some cases the same number has been re-used for the same scene but this has evidently been rephotographed at a later date. Analysis is further complicated because the editor frequently added or removed people from scenes - in some cases the added people are either grossly out of proportion, or so crudely pasted in that outlines are clearly visible / shadows are inconsistent. I have several examples of three different cards showing the same scene but with "tweaked" foreground figures. There are a few cards showing different scenes with the same number or with no number at all, these presumably are production errors.
Some earlier cards have two titles visible, one prominent and one not,
possibly the result of an earlier unnumbered series being brought into
the numbered series. One of these - 185 - clearly shows an earlier
number of 509 on the less prominent title, so it would seem a renumbering
took place at some time.
Some cards were produced with a "wood frame" ornamental border, with the series number appearing on the address side of the card at lower left. These are generally photolitho cards with a gelatine coating.
There were two main different printing processes deployed. The early coloured cards, produced in Belgium and in Saxony, were often made using a process referred to as "Trichromatic", which seems to have been similar to Woodburytype and produced pastel shades. Later coloured cards (usually using brighter colours and often with a clear coating), and many sepia-toned cards, were produced using a photolithographic process - screening dots are quite evident. I also have one undivided back card (#148), unused, produced in black and white using a photolitho process, which presumably dates from around 1903.
An insight into printing costs: Eyre and Spottiswoode quoted the following in 1905:
B/W per 1000
1000 off 12/-
2000 off 10/6
Colour per 1000
1000 Off 30/-
2000 off 25/-
4000 off 18/-
Postcards show scenes mostly in southern and southwestern counties, Isle of Wight, and the Channel Islands, although I have noted several Kent, Essex, and Sussex views and also a few of the northwest - Cheshire, Derbyshire, Isle of Man, Warwickshire, and Lancashire. There seem to be none of Wales, Scotland, or London and the Home Counties.
Most cards I have seen are topographical, sometimes overprinted with greetings messages. There are also several sub-series with comic, romantic, fortune-telling, proverbs, and "Language of Flowers" themes. Welch also produced a "Ships of the Royal Navy" series not covered here
The legal bits
I claim no copyright in the individual images, however I do assert my copyright over this collection of images as presented here.
This collection was created by John Elsbury of Wellsford, North Auckland, New Zealand, who can be contacted at John.Elsbury (at) woosh.co.nz.
3/2016 March 2016