Cast From the Past: Fishing Postcards

Photo: Mj FitzGerald Collection

When was the last time you received a postcard in the mail? Considered quaint in the days of Instagram, these small messages from the past provide a fascinating snapshot of times gone by.

The first known picture postcard was mailed in June of 1840 by Theodore Hook of Fulham, UK. Ironically, he posted the card to himself, probably as a practical joke, as the card featured a caricature of postal workers. The postcard sold at auction for 31,000 pounds in 2002.

The first U.S. postcard was believed to have been mailed in December 1848 and contained advertising.

Collecting fishing postcards is a great hobby that provides an opportunity to see how anglers enjoyed their sport over the ages.

Photo: Steve Woit

Some postcards were created to advertise outdoor products, like this Oliver Kemp image of a sport fishing for bass from a canoe with his companion, which was created by the Horton Manufacturing Company to promote its Bristol Steel Fishing Rods in 1909.

Photo: Steve Woit

Other postcards record impressive catches of the day, including such bragging notes as: “How Does This Look?”



Photo: Steve Woit


Photo: J. Arthur Dixon

The impressive Scotsman in the postcard from the turn of the century was reportedly the Queen Victoria’s ghillie and the famous Scottish fly dresser Megan Boyd is captured in a postcard tying salmon flies with her trusted companion Patch. Megan reported turned down an opportunity to receive the British Empire Medal from Queen Elizabeth II in 1971, needing to stay home to take care of Patch. She was later awarded the medal by Prince Charles in Scotland.

Photo: California Academy of Sciences

The wonderful chromolithographic postcard image, circa 1905, is that of a Golden Trout of Little Kern River from the Steinhart Aquarium of the California Academy of Sciences. The Little Kern golden trout now are a threatened species under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Photo: Steve Woit

With the arrival of the Real Photo Postcard made possible by new cameras and Velox photo paper from the Eastman Kodak Company in 1902, fishing postcards from real photographs became popular.

Photo: Steve Woit

Whether fishing in a bowler hat or unhooking a trout midstream, one could now capture a fishing adventure for all time on a real photo postcard.

Steve Woit is the author of “Fly Fishing Treasures: The World of Fly Fishers and Collecting”, a book featuring profiles of 30 experts and collectors and over 800 photographs of rare and collectible fly rods, reels, flies, books, and ephemera.

One thought on “Cast From the Past: Fishing Postcards

  1. About the Megan Boyd mention above. Learn some more about the lady and her very singular clients.

    Once met, never forgotten.

    Some very old Moldy I remembered once mixing here just now.

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