The spread of postcards in China during the 1860s was primarily driven by a growing Western market looking for images of exotic Eastern culture. Chinese postcards from the mid-19th century typically depicted places that would have been visited by outsiders, like treaty ports or colonial outposts including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Hankou, and Hong Kong. These also happened to be cities where the postcard-printing industry was just beginning to flourish.

The images on these postcards were often crafted in a photographer’s studio and catered to existing Western stereotypes, featuring photos of women with bound feet or people smoking opium, as well as sights that would have seemed curious to Westerners, like Mongolians in traditional garb or rickshaws. Through the mid-20th century, Chinese postcards designed for Western buyers used much older photographs as their source images, which appealed to the outside world’s assumptions about the Chinese and their old-fashioned way of life.

Postcards made in China also captured major events that would have been of interest to Europeans, like the violent anti-foreigner uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. However, the majority featured scenic landscapes or impressive architectural sites such as the Temple of Heaven in Beijing or views of the famed Great Wall.

Following the 1949 establishment of China’s Communist Party, Chairman Mao Zedong and his accomplishments became a popular subject for postcards, which were increasingly designed as propaganda pieces for Chinese nationals.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Carthalia

Carthalia

Andreas Praefcke's postcard collection of theatres and concert halls worldwide. Showcases 3700 images of over 1810 … [read review or visit site]

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

Tall Tale Postcards

Tall Tale Postcards

Don't let this one get away from you. This 'unbelievable' collection, from the Wisconsin Historical Society, featur… [read review or visit site]

Gotheborg.com

Gotheborg.com

Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

China Old Postcard Shantung Shanghai To Duisburg Germany 1906 !!China Old Postcard Govenor Yuan Shih Kai Of Shantung !!China Old Postcard Dragon Stamps Canton To Germany 1906 !!China Old Postcard Paoting Dragon Stamps 1901 !!China Shanghai Dancing Girls (prostitutes ?) Real Photo Postcard 1935 - 21China Old Postcard Manchuria Harbin Dragon Stamps To Europe 1913 !!China Old Postcard Paoting Hand Painted 1901 !!Hong Kong China 1928 Kgv Real Photo Queens Road Postcard Post Card To SwedenChina 1942 Censored Wwii Postcard Mailed Shanghai To The United States! Nice!China Shanghai Miss Kwong Yim Chinese Actress ? Real Photo Postcard 1935 - 27China Shanghai Dancing Girl (prostitute ?) Real Photo Postcard 1935 - 23Tsoihung Road Civil Aviation Building Kowloon Hong Kong Continental Size ChromeDragon Dance Yuenlong New Territories Hong Kong Continental Size ChromeNo: 48124 - China (1901) - Postcard - An Old & Rare Card - Interesting Cancels!Argyle Street Mongkok Kowloon Hong Kong Continental Size Chrome - Used 1965China Shanghai Miss Yam Yat Han Chinese Actress ? Real Photo Postcard 1935 - 29Queen's Road Central Hong Kong Continental Size Chrome - Used 1963 Early UsageHong Kong China 1904 Kevii Tempel Via S.s. Sydney Postcard Post Card To SpainJordan Road Pier Kowloon Hong Kong Continental Size ChromeSalisbury Road Tsim Sha Tsui Kowloon Hong Kong Continental Size ChromeChina Old Stationery Postcard Dragon 1912 (quality See Scan)China Old Postcard Harbin China Post Manchuria To Germany 1912 !!Postcard - Imperial Hotel, Tientsin, China. 1910. Shanghai & Tangku Postmarks.China Old Postcard Chinese Prince Military Generals Saumur To Seine 1910 !!Hong Kong & Macau Ferry Wharf Hong Kong Continental Size ChromeChina Post Card +/- 1910 View Of Chien-men Street, Peking.ota Bros & Co. JapanChina Old Postcard Chinese Revolution Nanking Warship !!China Old Postcard Shanghai Pagoda Dragon Stamp 1907 !!1920's China Collage Postcard Of Musician Utilizing Chinese-canadian-u.s. StampsHong Kong, China, Kowloon Peninsula Overview, H.k. Pictorial Pc Co Pub C. 1902China. Japanese Postcard Chefoo To Germany 1898.Ricksha Puller Kowloon Hong Kong Early Chrome - Postally Used 1955Connaught Road Central Hong Kong Continental Size Chrome1896 Belgian Postcard To China Returned Via Us Post Agency Shanghai, Chicago Etc(hkpnc) Hong Kong 1950's Real Photo Postcard Queen's Road Central Hk Unused VfChina Chinese Cut Stamp Montage Painted Art Postcard Nanking Uss Monocacy Cancel(hkpnc) Hong Kong 1950's Real Photo Postcard Colew Street Unused VfPeking China Temples - Antique 8 Postcard SetShanghai, China ~ Entrance To The Old City, Kingshill Pub #68 ~ C. 1904-14Handmade Post Card Figure Made From Chinese Stamps 1939 Golden Gate ExpoGermany - 1905 Offices In China Picture Postcard Mailed To Denmark(hkpnc) Hong Kong 1951 Real Photo Postcard To Uk Hand Tinted Kgvi 40cChina Chinese Macau Macao Old Castle Building Houses Homes Scene PostcardChina 1954 ● Postcard To Czechoslovakia ● Please Read.China The Dock AmoyChina Miéville / Mieville — The Apology Chapbook Plus Postcard — Wfc2013 ScarceChina Old Postcard Macau Panorama To Portugal Covilha 1923 !!China Old Postcard Campement Village Chuitien Mengtsz 1907 !!China Old Postcard Japanese Excecution Tientsin To France 1911 !!1953 Hong Kong Harbour Rppc Airmail View Raf Kai Tak Korean War South Africa 2x Hong Kong Real Photo PostcardsChina 1934 Junk Stamps Postcard Mailed To The United States! Nice!Grand Hotel ~kowloon - Hong Kong~ Spectacular & Scarce Artist Postcard, 1940Early Post Card, China, Hong Kong, H M S Kent The Southern Cruise Hong Kong Hong Kong, Kowloon, Showing The Cheung Sha Wan Reclamation. Hong Kong China 1909 Kevii City Hall Postcard Post Card To Uk GbTiger Balm Pagoda Hong Kong Continental Size Chrome - Postally Used 1970Nathan Road Tsim Sha Tsui Kowloon Hong Kong Continental Size Chrome-used 74China Old Postcard Amoy Harbour Chinese Festival Day To France 1906 !!1924 China Macau Portugal Colored Vintage Ppc Vasco Da Gama To Czechoslovakia