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By Conway Longworth-Dames

27 Stoke Gabriel Road Galmpton BRIXHAM Devon TQ5 0NQ UK

C H Price originally had his premises at 36 George Street in Croydon, where he produced his first photographic postcards of the aerodrome in 1922. During this period he issued some 20 cards depicting the buildings and many of the aircraft that used the field at that time. With the first un-numbered exception, a card titled “Croydon Aerodrome Continental Airport” these cards used a numbering system which was to continue throughout his publishing history. Actually there was one other un-numbered card, a “special” of Lindbergh at Croydon. Each card carried a number, initially 20061 but later 20062 followed by an alphabetic suffix. The “First series” carried the numbers 20061A to 20061S inclusive and the subjects were of the original airport off Plough Lane with its wooden buildings.


After moving to 62 High Street, he continued to produce a large number of fine postcards of the aerodrome as it began to develop over the years into a major airport. Continuing his numbering system after the move, for some unknown reason he duplicated suffices P to S of the first series with new subjects. This second series therefore commenced at 20061R and ran to 20061Z, when the number switched to 20062. 20062 itself (with no suffix) was a view of the then new Aerodrome Hotel and the series then ran 20062A to U.

However  a second suffix letter as sometimes used . Examples are :-

20062C and CA  Entrance to Terminal     

20062F and 2 versions of FA All main hall with clock tower, weather board etc

20062G and GA Tower and terminal building. GC terminal + HP.42


20062S SA,SB,SC,SD,SE,SF Various AW Argosy views (SA by deduction)


A sub-series 20061A1 to 20061G1 consisted of general views of the airport.  From the subjects these seem to have been produced over about 10 years – the earliest shows a DH.50 while the last includes a Czech (CLS) DC-3.   The most prolific “Third series” of cards retained the 20062 number but the suffix was now based on the nationality of the subject aircraft. Thus :-

20062CZ   A single card of a Czech CLS DC-3

20062HA-HF  Lufthansa     :

20062JA-JK  KLM

20062KA-KC SABENA      :

20062PA-PH  Air Union and Air France

Shown is 20062PD, Wibault-Penhoet 282.12T F-AMHN  of Air Union


20062SA-SZ & TA-TL  Mostly Imperial but also : Dunlop Rubber Puss Moth : Provincial Dragon : Railway AS DH86 : Spartan AW Spartan Cruiser : Avro prototype 642 : Surrey Flying Service Dragon : North Eastern Envoy : Blackpool & West Coast Fox Moth and Lord Beaverbrooks DH Dragonfly.


For a full list of CH Price cards please send two 27p stamps to the above address.



Frequently found in Aviation boxes in dealers stocks are black and white photographic cards issued by Real Photographs Co Ltd with the company title and an address in Liverpool or Southport. Some have postcard backs, some are plain apart from company details and some have a data matrix for the buyer to fill in. Their distinguishing feature is that they have a number on the face and they do NOT have any subject title on the face or back – but many have this information handwritten. These cards represent the main publisher of real photographic transport cards in the UK from the 1930s through to, and here we have to guess, the 1950s. The number is no clue to the card age as early cards remained available for many years and would have used the format in use at the time of print. Card no.1 was still on sale in 1942 and almost certainly later.


Like its fellow Liverpool based business Meccano, Real Photographs published    a monthly magazine, where details of new products were supplemented by transport related articles. The format was like are own newsletter, about 12 sides of A5 equivalent paper and, even in WW2, printed on quite glossy paper.  Some pages are reproduced in this webpage.  From some copies of this it is possible to deduce something about the cards and photographs. 


The cards commence at no 1 – the Alcock and Brown Transatlantic Vimy. Some early cards carry a different title, namely Railway Photographs Ltd with an address at 23 Hanover Street, Liverpool. Illustrated is card no.4, Vickers  Victoria

It seems that the original company was a competitor of the Locomotive Publishing Co. in this field and branched out both to aviation and shipping. The address on most 1930s PC backed cards is Coopers Buildings, Church St, Liverpool. Early cards all seem to all have had postcard backs – but later reprints carry the same numbers so there is no tie-up between numbers and type of back. In the 30s it seems that both PC and non-PC backs were used but all post-war cards were plain back with the publisher detail moved to the top of the card rather than the left edge. Before 1942 the company relocated to Victoria House, Houghton St, Southport, consequent upon the bombing of Church Street in the “May Blitz” of 1941. This address appears to have remained until closure, but a few photographs (not PC’s) from the 1950’s have the company name changed to Aviation Photographs. By this time numbers no longer appear on the face, just hand stamped on the back


It is possible to plot some card numbers against dates even though the publishing of retrospective images means that aircraft type is not an infallible guide. But by definition a photo cannot exist before the subject, except obvious “artist impressions”. By mid 1942, photos 1 to 1500 were listed. 150 is the prototype Spitfire so must be 1936, 1192 is Taylorcraft G-AFUD, so after 1939, 2500 was reached by mid 1945 and 3000 by 1946. 5561 shows the Comet 3B G-ANLO in BEA colours, so must be around 1958, near the end. 


791 Airspeed Queen Wasp, illustrated, has a full PC back with “POST CARD”, divider, correspondence and address headings and a stamp box.

864 AW Whitley has the same but clearly rubber-stamped over a plain back with company title at the top. I guess all that can be deduced is that PC backs had been phased out by 1939.


There appear to be two different attitudes to these cards by collectors and dealers. For a long time they were all treated as Photographs not Postcards and priced accordingly – this now seems to have gone into reverse and they are all treated as PC’s by dealers and priced accordingly upwards. This can be a reflection of photographic quality which can be very high, as evidenced by the (PC-backed) Saro London Flying Boat no.1141 illustrated.

Conversely many WW2 period cards of Luftwaffe aircraft were very poor quality, many seemingly being taken from captured cinefilm. As WW2 and the run up to it were the most prolific periods of the company’s trading, it is inevitable that Military subjects predominate and this is added to by the number of retrospective WWI cards produced, including a number of “wreck” cards. However civil subjects were also covered and include some high quality airliner shots such as the Lockheed 10 Electra shown.

Reproduced also are two pages from the magazine RP news of October 1943. The subject is a USAAF Vultee BT-13.

The other page from the same issue features recent photos, mainly US types and includes a shot of a piece of pre-computer cut-and-pasting to put a B-17 together with three Stearman 75 trainers.

Note that the company logo still includes ships and trains as well as aircraft but another edition of the magazine states that, during WW2, shipping could only be supplied on production of the appropriate official authority. Starting in 1945 each magazine contained a readers letters section and, in February letters of appreciation came in from Iceland, Rhodesia, Malta, Australia and the USA. Other topics were the Bert Hinkler landing on Helvellyn in 1926,  card filing systems, the absence of “action” photographs, and some ramblings about numeric co-incidences – and of course the pointing out of errors in the previous magazine. Not to mention civil war between different  collectors (in this case ship and aircraft) about the amount of space devoted to the other.


Not much change there then.



By Leonardo Pinzauti


As soon as WWII ended Britsh authorites started planning air connections. Europe was to play a primary role, not forgetting that some of the pacified countries were to host UK military facilities and servicemen for some years ahead. The ban on civil aviation was lifted on Jan 1 1946 and all existing airlines were anxious to spread their wings abroad. On Jan 31st a BOAC Short Sunderland left Poole Bay and after a stop at Biscarosse (France) landed offshore at Agusta. It was the first  post-war link between England and Italy and was but the second stop on a tortuous route to Singapore.


State Corporations BOAC-BEA

Jan 1 1946 was also the birthday of BEA as a BOAC division, taking over the operations of Northolt based RAF Transport Command 110 Wing in February. In the following March DC-3s opened a London-Marseille-Rome-Athens route. Up to the 1970’s Rome, together with  Frankfurt and Zurich would be served by BOAC as intermediate stops on routes to Africa, the Middle East and Asia, in addition to BEA service. The Italian capital would become an interchange point for pooled services with such ex-colonial carriers as Nigeria Airways. 


Folowing the inception of BEA on August 1 1946, a DC-3 commenced service London-Marseille-Rome on the 9th. Total time to the “Eternal City2 was 6hr 20 min and the plane went on to Athens and Istanbul. BEA was the first foreign carrier to open service to Italy after WW2. In the following weeks Rome was also linked to London via Nice (5hr 30). BEA also held a 40% stake in Alitalia at this time. In 1947 the Viking replaced the DC-3s and Viking service to Milan-Malpensa was added in 1951, later served by the Airspeed “Elizabethan” Ambassador.



BOAC introduced the pioneering Comet 1 with G-ALYP opening London-Rome-Johannesburg on May 2 1952. Unfortunately Italy was to feature heavily in the downfall of the Comet 1 with losses at Rome Ciampino (G-ALYZ Oct 26 1952) , off Elba (G-ALYP Jan 10 1954) and near Stromboli Island (G-ALYY April 8 1954) which resulted in permanent grounding. BOAC had to fall back on the HP Hermes and, from 1957, the Bristol Britannia. Meanwhile BEA had introduced the Viscount London-Rome-Athens-Nicosia with G-ALWE commencing service April 19th 1953. This first ever route by a turboprop airliner reduced the London- Rome time to 4hr 15. The same year BEA added Naples as an intermediate on their Malta service. Other developments included an all cargo DC-3 flight to Venice (1956) and occasional Vanguard use in 1959. At this time  BEA was the foreign carrier with the largest number of Italian destinations and flights.


BOAC jets returned with the Comet 4, in turn replaced by the 707 and, in 1964 by the VC-10 – including pooled service to West Africa. The Comet (mk 4B) also appeared on the BEA London-Rome-Athens route from 1960- reducing the time to 2hr 30. In the same year BEA added Turin and relocated Milan services from Malpensa to Linate. Also in 1961 Rome services switched from the old and congested Ciampino to the brand new Fiumicino. (By 2003 Ciampino had  re-invented itself as a hub for the Irish low cost Europe-wide carrier Ryanair).  BEA also added service to Palermo in Sicily and Alghero, Sardinia as stops on the UK Malta route, later adding Catania, Sicily (1965) and Cagliari(1972).


The Independents.

Italy was of paramount importance for the independent carriers. The flying boat operator Aquila service to Genoa has already been described in March 2001. The next to come was Eagle Airways. In 1958 it opened a seasonal schedule from Blackbushe to Pisa with Viscount 800 G-APDX. With its own attractions, plus access to seaside resorts, the Isle of Elba and the world-class architectural and cultural centre of Florence, the Pisa service was profitable and was operated again in 1960 under the Cunard-Eagle banner. In the summer of 1961 , Rimini on the Adriatic was also served by Viscount 700s and maintained after the airline was again renamed as British Eagle International in 1963. By 1966 BAC-111s were introduced but all services ceased with the collapse of the airline on Nov 6 1968. BEA reopened London-Pisa in 1970. Despite these services no Eagle planes have been found on Italian airport cards. The third carrier to open scheduled service was British United. It gained exclusive rights to serve Genoa and flights started in Jan 1964 using both Viscounts and Britannias. But on April 9th 1965 the BAC-111 performed its first revenue earning flight on this route with G-ASJJ. The route was retained through the mergers that produced Caledonian //BUA and British Caledonian in 1970/71.



Charter carriers

The cultural heritage of Italy had attracted British visitors since the 18th century. Add beautiful beaches and Italy became a destination for the charter carriers. Although many visited Italy, only a few cards are known, which feature Monarch, Skyways and Starways. The colourful fleet of Autair/Court line, very active in Italy in the late 60s and early 70s were never featured by postcard producers.

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