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 Coiling Dragon Stamp Postcard,tientsin To England,cancellations,very Nice1955 Hong Kong Kowloon Nathan Road Aerial View Hand Tinted Real Photo Postcard1955 Hong Kong Kowloon Ferry Hand Tinted Real Photo Postcard Superb Scene1901 China-germany Postcard Cover, Kiautschou, Peking Cancel, Boxer RebellionA Group Of German Chinese Infantry Used 1902 German Post Office In China 1942 Hong Kong Japanese Occupation Postcard With Special Postmark (2)1942 Hong Kong Japanese Occupation Postcard With Special Postmark (1)Hong Kong China 1954-1959 Qeii 2 X Exhibition Postcard Post Card1879 Hong Kong Gb Qv 5c On 18c On Blue Printing Postal Stationery Postcard 1916~2 Postcards China Sent By Foochow Missionary Dr Kinnear Medicine Prices WwiChina, Situation In The Far East, Foreign Countries' Images On Map Pc C. 1902 1920 China Amoy The Nunnery Xiamen Postcard Fujian DistrictTientsin - Tianjin China Soldiers & Knights Of Columbus In Theater, 1920 Rppc 1920 China A View Of Amoy Postcard Xiamen, Fujian DistrictRussian Postcard Chinese Troops Used 1905U.s American Consulate-kulangsoo-amoy-chinaRppc Postcard China 1926 Foochow Pagoda Island Panoramic Fujian Photograph Photo1920 Chang Chow Pho Lam Bridge Zhangzhou Postcard Fujian DistrictMacao, China, Boa Vista Hotel & Sanatarium Adv, Not A Postcard C. 1910-20's 1920 China Train To Chang Chow Crossing Bridge Zhangzhou Postcard FujianPeking China Multi-view Used 1901 German PostcardStreet Scene With Trolley, Possibly Hong Kong China, Real Photo Pc C. 1910-20 China Rare1958, Frescoes Of The Yonglegun Monastery ,booklet Set Of 12, China Ed1913-1916 Rppc In The Chinese Quarter, Penang Malaya Part Diary Page Hong Kong Rp Postcard View Of Docks Riverboats To Canton Circa 1920sChina Vintage Shantung Mountain Tai (tai Shan) Road & Tree Views Postcard X 21845 Canton Maine Ledger Rare Old Bowrington - Hong Kong. Postcard1¢ Wonder's ~ Unused Postcard W/ "chinese Telephone Exchange" San Francisco~c1171890 China Hong Kong Gb Qv 1c P. S. Paid Postcard With H.k./a Cds Pmk (c.t.o.)China Old Junk Postcard Hankow Peking Mouken Ambulant Harbin To Italy 1916 !!1914 China-holland Handpainted Postcard Cover German 4ct On China Stationary Chinese Actress Wou Kang StudioOld Real Photo China Postcard - City Gate Of Hankow1900s China New Qing Army Music Band With Foreign Conductor Postcard 上海清新军乐队洋指挥China Old Postcard Hand Painted To France 1907 !!China Shanghai Postcard Showing 'lung Hwa Railway Station' Very Rare China Russian Japan War Geisha Fan & Flags Japanese Publisher 1904 Cds Stamp -08China Old Postcard Chinese Emperor Mandarins Dragon Stamp !!China Hongkong Old Double Postcard Ligne Paquebot To France 1899 !!China Coiling Dragon Stamp Postcard To France,14/july/1911, Nice CancellationsChina Old Postcard Yuen Ming Yuen Shanghai German Post To Peking 1911 !!China Tientsin, Custom House Old Hand Tinted Postcard Street Boats Harbour RiverChina Coiling Dragon Stamp Postcard, Tientsin To France With Nice CancellationsChina Russian Japan War Woman & White Dove Of Peace Japanese Publisher 1904 - 11China War Propaganda Postcard ~19031900s China Russo-chinese Bank Building In Paris, France Postcard 巴黎华俄道胜银行1917 World War 1 Chinese Inside Barrack In Vonges France Postcard 一战中国志愿军营在法国China Russian Japan War News Of Victory Japanese Postcard 1904 Cds Stamp - 241905 Postcard From Itschang To German Consul Shanghai (local Post), Lunar Dater( 13056 ) China - Tsingtau, Boats - Old Postcard - UsedChina Russian Japan War Crowds Cheer Troops Japanese Publisher 1904 Cds Stamp 16China Russian Japan War Officers Discuss Tactics Japanese Pc 1904 Cds Stamp - 22Prc China Tientsin German Consulate Tientsin Ijpa Cancel On Japanese StampFdc 6th Far Eastern Championship Games Chinese Athlete ChinaFdc 6th Far Eastern Championship Games China Woman Receive Flower GarlandChina Old Double Postcard Taku Shanghai To Germany 1900 !!@1910 Original Vintage Antique Two Pug Dogs Real Photo Postcard Rppc China BreedChina Old Postcard Tientsin Local Post 1907 !!China Russian Japan War Woman Plays Peace Pipes Japanese Pc 1904 Cds Stamp - 25