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Postcard Obverse   • Horseshoe & T.I.C Stamp Square

from 1919 to 1930 ......................T.I.C =   Thomas Illingworth & Co
In the top right hand corner on the back of a postcard is a place for the Postage Stamp.
Many Stamp Squares are just words or plain shapes. Each photographer would have bought his Postcard photographic paper from a supplier.
Some suppliers included the photographer's pre-printed name and address in the cost of the card.
The Postage Stamp square is where the manufacturer would place his brand mark
Thomas Illingworth & Co were a paper manufacturer founded about 1904, they manufactured the Horse Shoe Brand photographic paper in London NW10..
The large British photographic supplies company Ilford bought a controlling interest in Thomas Illingworth & Co in 1919 but the business was not fully absorbed into the Ilford Group until about 1930 it was during this same period the date coding appears on T.I.C Horse Shoe Post cards. I have included the Horseshoe brand in this decade because after checking hundreds of dated photographs with this mark I have yet to see one dated outside the twenties.
Correction 'except one or two dated 1919 and one or two dated 1930'.

Unless there is evidence to the contrary I would date any card with this mark to the 1920s.

Postcard production date symbols on T.I.C Horseshoe cards.

All Real Photographic postcards started life as a pre-printed sheet of photographic sensitive card.
Each photographer's stock of photographic paper postcards had a shelf life.

If you look between the two words POST and CARD on a T.I.C Horseshoe card you should see a symbol. These symbols could be taken as typographic decoration. However I believe they have a purpose in what would be now be called quality control. I suggest they represent the manufacturer's date of production, possibly a span of six months.

There is an identifiable pattern. For example in my own collection of T.I.C horseshoe portraits I have four unrelated portraits, each dated 1922. All four have the 'double dagger' symbol between the words Post & Card. This cannot be chance or coincidence.
I would not be bold enough to suggest that a card can be precisely dated using these symbols but they can certainly be batched into early, middle and late twenties. I have extracted the dated portrait cards from my collection and found a very significant clustering of dates for certain symbols. There are of course stray cards which were probably inscribed many months after they were printed and other inscriptions may be inaccurate but there are enough clues to indicate there is information of value here.
My instinct tells me that a single symbol represents the first half of a year and a double symbol the second. It is only a theory but the evidence is strong and I am convinced I am on the right track.
Geoff Caulton of Norfolk England July 2010


Please excuse my crude graphics.

  1919,1921 & 1922  1920  1921 ??
The above marks may not represent a date but are only seen on cards dating from the beginning of the twenties.
The following symbols, where a date is shown, I hold at least one dated example mostly hand written inscriptions but some printed as part of the photographer's details.
 1920  1920 & 1921
 ??    1922
 1924   1925   1924 & 1925  1925  
 1926    1926 & 1927  
 ??    1927
 1928    ??
 1929   ??
   1931     1930
 ??  ??   ??

I do not intend to pursue this research much further but will add any definite discoveries as they occur.