We have recently received a collection of about 100 postcards produced by the British Museum (Natural History) dating from the 1920s to the 1930s. They mainly feature birds, with a few postcards on trees and spiders. The full postcard collection covered more than just natural history; it also had sets covering geology, views of buildings, and a historical set which included curious books and important people. Most of the artists who illustrated the postcards had a connection to the museum. Part of the bird series was illustrated by Henrik Gronvold (1858-1940). He worked at the museum preparing and mounting birds before becoming an unofficial artist there. Gronvold illustrated various books and articles and travelled with William Ogilvie-Grant on an expedition to the Salvage Islands in 1895.
Other artists who worked on the postcard collection included:
B.O. Corfe (1866-1947): worked as a watercolour artist for the museum and her other work included a number of watercolours of Winchester.
E.J. Bedford (1865-1953): specialised in photography, mainly of nature and trains, He authored a book entitles “Nature photography for beginners”.
A.B. Woodward (1862-1951): A well-known illustrator of many children’s books, including the first ever illustrated Peter Pan story.
J.B. Procter (1897-1931): at 25, became the first woman Curator of Reptiles at London Zoo. She was a well-respected herpetologist, designing the reptile house at the Zoo and established many new techniques for caring for reptiles.
As far as I’m aware this is our only collection of postcards in the library, therefore setting us a wonderful challenge: how do we catalogue them? First we need to check iDiscover to see if there are any other libraries in Cambridge with postcards and to check how they catalogued them. I manged to find two records, one had been mentioned to me by Anne Taylor at the Map department at the UL who I had spoken to about the postcards. So, the next step is to try other catalogues (COPAC) to look for examples and to use Professor Google to see if there are any guidelines from other university libraries on how to catalogue postcards (Yale University had something on their website and a few helpful catalogue records). As all our bibliographical records have to be to a set standard (RDA Resource Description and Access) we had to make sure the correct fields were added or removed from the usual type of record we use for a book. We are also only allowed to use certain terms, so I had to check whether “postcard” and “envelope” were acceptable. After composing a record, having it checked by the Whipple Librarian and another librarian who has more specialised knowledge of RDA and cataloguing (thanks to Neil Kirkham at Caius) and updating my attempt using their more knowledgable brains, the job of cataloguing 26 envelopes has slowly begun.
A selection of the bird postcards are currently featured, along with other items from the library on ornithology, in the book display on Level 1.
And here is an example of the bibliographic record in all its RDA glory: