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The Frank Gilruth Collection

Before Facebook messenger, text messages and letters there were postcards. The first United Kingdom postcard was issued in 1870. Just 24 years later the first postcard was sent with a picture on the front. In 1899, the standard size for postcards was introduced, measuring 5.5 inches by 3.5 inches (13.9cm by 8.8cm). In 1902, postcards would be changed again with the introduction of the divided back. The front of the postcard still held a picture which had become standard as of 1894, however the back was divided into two; a place for a written message and a place to write the person's address. This continues to be the design of postcards until today.


The postcard since its inception has played an important role in social history. Before and during the Great War (1914-1918) there was an increase in the use of postcards and as a result that era became known as the Golden Age of postcards. Another revival was seen between the 1940s and 1950s. Postcards, before the general use of telephones, allowed friends and family to keep in touch with each other in a cheap and effective way. Until recently, there were several collections and deliveries a day in most areas.


Frank Gilruth was born in Gartley, Aberdeenshire in 1853. Frank moved to Dumfries in 1882 when he was appointed as the writing and commercial teacher at Dumfries Academy. He was an enthusiast of Scottish music and literature until his death on the 1st of December 1915. The Frank Gilruth collection took the beauty of the picture postcards and added to it the beauty of music. Dumfries Museum acquired the collection of 900 postcards in 2010. On the back of the postcards his collection, there are a few bars of music, composed by a variety of authors. These postcards have been catalogued by a museum volunteer, and divided into two themes, Famous People and Iconic Scotland.


The postcards selected for these exhibitions were chosen by Kate Vallely (Museum Intern 2016), a Canadian student, who completed her Museum and Gallery Studies degree with us.