Hertfordshire Post Cards

Hidden Messages

Messages written on a postcard were visible for anyone to read and some people used various techniques to make it harder for the postman (or your employer if you were in domestic service) to read.

Muddled Messages


Post card of Thomas Meadows' Mausoleum at Watford


To make it harder to read the message is written in alternate lines and upside down so the postman can't easily read it "by mistake" when looking at the address.

  1. Dear A           2/8/07
  2. Just a line hoping
  3. I shall try and go with her
  4. you are still quite well
  5. if I can get my work done in
  6. H. went back about ten o'clock
  7. time. Lena, Tom and chicks are
  8. Wed: night & would like to go

  9. coming down Sat. till monday
  10. to the show on Monday if it is

  11. I suppose you won't be out Mon:
  12. fine but will tell you Sunday

  13. with fondest love & as I remain

  14. ever your own loving boy Alf  ~~

Mirror Writing


Postcard posted from Garston in 1907

as written
mirror image

Click on the card for more details of this card, and another, posted by Jessie to Lance in 1906/7


Another example of mirror writing, posted in 1909



Hidden Messages on Post cards - Shorthand


Valentine Post Card of Baldock Parish Church - JV 57693

Kathryn supplied the following translation:

Dear Mr Uphill
Thank you for your lovely postcard of Dorchester. You said I think that you liked pictures of churches. Have you ever seen a photo of this church before? I myself think that houses would be such a delightful collection of postcards. You said that you like foreign correspondents best, I think everywhere today, I have a correspondent in China, Malta, Gibraltar and in America, and find it very interesting indeed. Yours sincerely

Semaphore Code



Bedford Series

Posted in Hammersmith in April 1906


Card addressed to

Miss E R Allen

74 Elm Grove Road

Barnes S W


Miss Evelyn Allen (18) was at the above address in 1911 census

dearest one
got to the beths
before nine
we won by three to one
cood nieht dear
thy seave Syd


Transcription provided by Andy  who commented that the message is a little confused in places and the last line appears to be written at an angle parallel to the final underline.

See Flag Semaphore

Number Codes


1A 2B 3C 4D 5E 6F 7G 8 H 9I 10J 11K 12L 13M 14N 15O 16P 17Q 18R 19S 20T 21U 22V 23W 24X 25Y 26Z

My dear ada This is one you ought to have had last week yov will see what it is dearest just like the place

Mvch love from yovr own walt

k k k k k k k k

Ada Mabel Nichols married Walter Charles Maunder in 1906 and the couple were living in Edgware Road, Marylebone at the time of the 1911 census.

Misplaced Stamps

In the above example Walter Maunders signalled his love to Ada Nichols by sticking the stamp at an angle.

When James Humphries of Watford sent post cards to Margaret Rowe in Berkhamsted in 1909 the stamps were set at an angle, which was a simple way of, in effect, sending a kiss.

At one time an elaborate language of postage stamps was developed - until the postal regulations specified that the stamp should go in the top right hand corner of the envelope or post card.


Hidden Meaning


A small portion of the "River Spey" was picked up this morning, close to the "April Flight" & is at present in safe custody. Will transfer it to yours in a day of so. Hope you got home safely. Yours ever J.B.

It would appear that the words "River Spey" and "April Flight" have some hidden meaning designed to conceal something from the post man or anyone else who saw the message. The card was, sent to Miss Ruck, at Forest Hall, Ongar, Essex, on February 20th, 1904, from Markyate,


September 2006   Page created
March 2012   Shorthand example
April 2012   Shorthand translated
May 2012   Number codes and language of stamps
June 2012   Semaphore example
March 2013   Second example of mirror writing added
December 2013   Cards to Lance from Jessie added
May 2014   Muddled Message
September 2016   Hidden Meaning