Modern Postcards - Photo Precision

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Modern Postcards - Photo Precision

Postby PC2007 on Wed Sep 05, 2007 6:19 pm


Not been collecting too long, but put together a few notes/observations (and questions) based on what I've collected from this publisher. These are things I would have liked to have known as an aid when I started. If anyone can assist or add anything it would be greatly appreciated.

The bulk of the cards I have have a five digit serial number (roughly English begin with 1, Wales with 2 and Scotland with 3), with a prefix of either PT, PLC, or PLX.

I've found that the PT seem to be single pictures, the PLC multi-photo, and the PLX a combination of both, so not sure what PLX stands for.

I initially thought the five digit number would be unique, but found one instance where two different cards had the same number but one was PT and one PLX. Not sure if this a glitch, or all three series of numbers do run in parallel.

Sometimes consecutive numbers relate to the same town, so I assume they were published in batches at the same time, but not sure if putting all the cards from day one in numerical order is also a strict chronological order of when the cards were produced. Although a lot of my cards are used (hence dated) some must have had a long 'shelf life' because the dates range from 1960's up to 1990's. However, if anyone can confirm the cards were issued in sequence, then one card with a date would help date all the unused cards numbered below.

The earliest printed have no publisher name. Later cards do have the publisher Photo Precision, later still have the brand Colourmaster International at the top, and this is as a curved logo on the most recent cards.

The later cards/printings also have a second serial number relating to the location itself (eg LK 2204 for a Lake District card) on top of the PT/PLX/PLC number, although I've found that these two numbers do not always run in the same order, so maybe when an old card was reprinted ad-hoc it would be given the next 'location number'.

I think that's about it from what I've worked out. Hope this is of interest. Personally like the cards from this publisher, always top notch in quality. Most grateful if anyone can confirm, deny, or expand on what I've written.

All the best
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Postby MichaelDay on Wed Sep 05, 2007 7:57 pm

I bought a number of these in bulk about 10 years ago or more. Somebody I used to deal with bought a vast quantity in auction of what I assumed was the clearance stock when they ceased trading. Iselected a few dozen packs of 100 cards. I'll sort out what I still have and let you have a list by PM.Message. The only one I have to hand is The Monorail, Rhyl. A single image with the reference PLX28572.. The packet they are in also has a number '28572' on it on a purple sticker. There's also another reference on the card 'RHY 595' presumably the 'RHY' prefix is 'Rhyl'.

Hope this helps, I don't imagine too many people (if any!) will have researched this firm.
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Postby PC2007 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 5:30 pm

Thanks for your reply, Michael.

If the sticker on the packet only mentions the number, then it may mean that was their unique reference system, and any lettering prefixes were for secondary reasons. I'll follow that line of thought and see where it goes.

I've nearly finished my detailed list. Some areas show a pattern, while others seem a bit chaotic. I've identified five different designs on the back of the cards which can theoretically narrow when a particular card was printed, but some cards have more than one design. I guess when an early card was popular enough to sell out it would be re-printed with the current design on the back.

Assuming there was an ongoing policy of introducing new pictures, some cards should only appear for the first time with the more recent designs, while some of the earliest cards have several different backs. At some point (1976 is my earliest example) this also included the 'Location Reference'.

I guess a bit more digging and a few more purchases are the only things which can provide the answers.

Cheers for your help
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Postby RAFPOL on Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:30 am

:D Wow! What a chaotic numbering system! Am I glad I stuck to comics and movie stars? Yes indeed. Good luck with your somewhat protracted investigation? "John Boy"
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Location: Wellingborough, Northants.

Postby PC2007 on Tue Sep 11, 2007 8:42 pm

It does seem chaotic, but it must have been a good filing system (for all those old postcard publishers) in pre-home computer days for them to keep track of their stocks.

The numbers on Photo Precision go over 40000, so potentially they could have had a run of up to 40,000 different cards. And these weren't just print once and forgotten because I've examples of early photos resurrected on more modern re-prints and combined on multi-views, so there must have been a method of going back and retrieving a certain location from the files.
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Re: Modern Postcards - Photo Precision

Postby Colin99 on Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:00 am

Hi There,
I used to be the Scottish regional manager for Photo Precision, having joined a really GREAT
company. Unfortunately, after a " Dipstick " of a general manager was taken onboard, they expanded in a manner which could NEVER have been sustained by sales. At least four regions were formed, each with about six reps. supplied with a Ford Cortina, expenses etc.
When one considers that the cost of 100 postcards was between 10 shillings and six pence, and
14 shillings and three pence, you can see that a hell of a lot of postcards needed to be sold to cover costs !!
With reference to the " PT " and " PLC ", they refered to " Photo Transparency " and " Photo
Litho Composite " ( being a single picture, and three, four , or five made up as a composite "
" Colourmaster " was the the brand name of Photo Precision used for all it's postcards and guide books.
The company moved from it's base in St. Albans, ( Hollywell Hill ) to St. Ives in Huntingtonshire, together with a new " Marinoni " litho printing set up, and shortly thereafter went pear shaped.

Such a shame !!
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Re: Modern Postcards - Photo Precision

Postby cheviotman on Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:47 pm

As I recall, Photo Precision was founded after the war by ex-RAF officer Arthur Smith, and one Tom English. They were later funded by a Charles H Vince, who at the time had a financial interest in Ilford, the photographic materials giant.
When I became involved with them in the late sixties, the board of directors was Charles Vince (Chairman), Christopher Wingate (MD) , Kenneth Stanley and Arthur Smith. Ironically, their seniority then was the reverse of their wartime standing, which was Wing-Commander Smith, Major Stanley, Sergeant Wingate and Private Vince, Home Guard.
The only other offering I can make is that their Scottish 5-digit numbers started either 34... 35... 36... and I think maybe 37....
Isle of Man if I remember started 23...
One man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the firm would be Graham Smith. After the demise of PP, he published rather rude comic cards somewhere on the Kent/Sussex coast under "Sapphire Cards". He had a connection with Jersey CI. I have googled him without success.
For more of their Scottish connection - see and put photo precision into the search thinggy.
And as an aside - I have the originals of all their Scottish RP cards - no reasonable offer refused ! !
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Re: Modern Postcards - Photo Precision

Postby PC2007 on Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:45 pm


So nice to hear from you, a real shame PP went bust, they're such a sign of quality when I pick up an old card. Thanks very much for sharing your tales.

I see in the shops of today a few companies have survived, namely John Hinde, Salmon, and Judges. Whatever happened to the other popular titles, eg Bamforth, Dennis, J Arthur Dixon? They all made particularly fine cards. Some of the Dixon colour 'photogravure' cards are beautiful. In comparison, the Salmon cards from 1960's are low quality, yet they still go on today.
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Re: Modern Postcards - Photo Precision

Postby Colin99 on Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:41 am

Hi Again,
Just been reading the further " posts ". Yes it was tragic that " P.P. "went pear shaped ,
as I genuinely believe that it really was the BEST. The directors at the time I was there were: -
Arthur Smith, H.K.Stanley , Wingate, ( father then son ), Bertram C. Johnston, and of course
C.H. Vince as Chairman. The " Dipstick " that was taken on board had headed up a failed company in the " carports " business, need I say more !! Again I say such a shame to have lost a really GREAT company to such incompetance.


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Re: Modern Postcards - Photo Precision

Postby cheviotman on Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:15 pm

I am grateful to Jim Crighton, brother-in-law of Arthur Smith, for the following -

"To the best of my memory, which isn't good -

"Photo Precision was established in 1946. Directors Arthur Smith and Tom English. Arthur Smith served his apprenticeship with Valentines of Dundee as a photographer. I think they were somewhere in Perth Road*. He was called up in the R A F as a private as an ariel (sic) photographer but failed his Aircrew medical**. He finished his service as a Wing Commander, second in command photography at Whitehall as a Wing Commander.

"Tom English worked with experimental Dept at Farnburgh as a photographic engineer. Presumably they assumed that this was the perfect partnership to form a business. The original factory was established at Caledonia Road in London.

"Years later, due to a cash flow problem, they sold out to either Illford (sic) or Kodak. I think it was Illford. Later the company was bought over by Mr X (can't remember his name), who appointed Arthur Smith as Managing Director.

"Don't know what happened to Tom English. Some time Later Alastair White and Arthur Smith met, what happened then A. White will know better than I."

P S from Alastair White -

* = yes they were indeed in Perth Road
** - yes he was virtually blind in one eye
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Re: Modern Postcards - Photo Precision

Postby jwjc on Sun Sep 12, 2010 5:19 pm

The London Gazette says that on 24.4.1956 Photo-Precision Limited (with a hyphen) described as ‘PRINTERS and PUBLISHERS of POSTCARDS’ had Harold Leslie Layton appointed its liquidator by the members. I think that this would have been in connection with a re-organization of the business as the company was said to be solvent. Anyone know more?
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Re: Modern Postcards - Photo Precision

Postby j4sbw on Mon Feb 15, 2016 7:06 pm

Hi Folks

I'd like to know who holds the copyright for Photo Precision images.

Does anyone have any idea?
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