Donald McGill looks at China

As readers of Orwell know, the British of the interwar period were fond of buying comic and risque postcards while on seaside vacations, and Donald McGill was the king of postcard artists.

Thanks to China Postcard (Via JJ) you can now look at lots of postcards about China. There are a bunch of English ones, and although none by are by Donald McGill probably would have been sold on the same racks. Unlike modern postcards they are not really linked to a place, and are just supposed to be insightful or funny. They are the viral videos of the Good Old Days.

So what did the average Brit think of China?1

Well, to some extent, China is a place just like England, with women on the prowl.

Like the English the Chinese can also be sappy and  romantic.

As Orwell points out, these ”racy” postcards tend to have a pretty conventional idea of sexuality. Marriage and your honeymoon are the high-point of your romantic life, and transgressions may go past canoodling behind a newspaper, but not much beyond. So the Chinese are just like us, and even speak good English. They dress oddly but that’s about it.

There is at least one series where the Chinese are tied to technological backwardness (and Pidgin English)

And of course they are an odd, Topsy-turvy type of people.

They stand with their backs to the teacher while reciting lessons!

There are also a fair number that emphasize the child-like innocence of.. children

Some of these have bible quotes, and may or may not have been issued by Christian groups.

You’d need more pictures, and above all better dating to do anything serious with these, but it’s a fun collection to look through.

  1. note that I’m not sure of the dates for some of these, or even if they are English 

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