When Kirkcaldy man Jim Barclay goes on holiday he rarely sends postcards, he’s more likely to buy them to add to his collection.
Jim (71), of the town’s Abbots Mill, is a deltiologist – a collector of postcards – and his hobby has spanned 30 years during which he has amassed over 650 old, and some quite rare cards which, together form a comprehensive record of the social history of Kirkcaldy, where he now lives with wife Rena, and the East Neuk where he was brought up.
Jim’s interest in postcards began through a friend who had been collecting postcards of his home town in Devon.
“We went to visit and he showed me his collection which I found fascinating because of all the social history it contained, and I started collecting from then,” he said.
Jim gets his postcards through contacts, in antique shops and at collector’s fairs and now has three large albums full, ranging from the late 1800s through to the 1960s.
The largest collection covers Kirkcaldy and Dysart and includes scenes from Dysart and Kirkcaldy harbours when they were thriving ports, through street scenes and aerial photographs to the town’s parks, the days of the old sailing ships and steam railways to scenes of the town’s industrial heritage with Nairn’s and Barry, Ostlere and Shepherd linoleum factories in full production.
There are also numerous scenes of Kirkcaldy town centre over the past century, from the thriving and pre-pedesrianised High Street, some featuring the trams which ran in the town from 1903 until the early 1930s, to the former Cottage Hospital at the foot of the Path and the first days of the Adam Smith Halls.
And he has a very special one showing himself as a boy fishing for crabs from the end of the pier at Cellardyke harbour during the 1950s, with his mum and dad watching him.
Jim explained: “I love seeing the changing landscapes of towns like Kirkcaldy and how they’ve grown over the years,” he said.
“My collecting has tailed off over the past two or three years as other things in my life have taken precedence, but I still enjoy browsing through boxes of postcards in antique shops to see if anything catches my eye.
“Some of my favourites come from the East Neuk where I grew up, and I have some stunning early postcards where the standard of photography is outstanding. One of my favourites shows an old sailing ship in Anstruther harbour at the turn of the century which, you would think, had been taken yesterday.
“I used to be able to pick them up for 50 pence or £1, but it’s more expensive now.
“The most I have paid for one was £30, because it shows a tram or a train and there are collectors who specialise in these.
“I have quite a big collection which I think would interest lots of people and maybe, if my children are not interested in taking it on, I will hand it over to the museum.”