The first Fiji postcards to come into my possession were collected by my grandparents, Mr W.J. and Mrs R.M. Ewins, all collected before 1930. They were a mixture of pictures of scenery and ethnographic images, and came to me via my grandmother and my father. Though many are unused, it seems that they were bought not as a collection but with the intention of using them, as one or two have addresses and messages on them but were never sent. Since then I have continued to collect, with my anthropological research interests leading to a particular emphasis on ethnographic and early historical pictures.
The other significant group of cards that has come into my possession were sent to Amy Wager and Mrs George Wager in England by "Chris" in Fiji during and around 1904. As with the Ewins collection, they were a mixture of scenes and ethnographic images. They provide an interesting insight into the importance of photographic postcards in providing a picture of this exotic outpost of Empire for those "back home". Since putting these online I have been contacted by the daughter (Barbara Helm) and grand-daughter (Christine Hyde) of Christopher Wager, both living in Australia, and am much obliged to them for providing me with a good deal of background information that gives further dimension to the cards. They have explained that Chris was brother of Amy and son of George, and that the "Jess" mentioned in a couple of the cards was another sister. On the postcards, stamps have been removed, but most show Suva on what remains of the postmark, and one bears the date 04 (1904). Chris was a young man working for Cable and Wireless in Suva around that time, then joined the constabulary, married and finally bought a plantation, "Mota" at Ba. The plantation was ill-starred and he and his family left Fiji in 1922 for Australia. He never returned to England, but three of his sisters, including Amy who had been the recipient of so many cards from his early days in Fiji, followed him to Australia.
My collection is obviously not comprehensive and, like most collections of anything, is subject to the accidents and limitations of acquisition, to some extent my own taste, and my economic resources. The notes provided are intended to help contextualise the pictures, and do not set out to provide a handbook for intending collectors. Such a book already exists, in the form of Elsie Stephenson's excellent Fiji's Past on Picture Postcards (1997, Suva, Caines Jannif Group). Carefully researched by a professional academic and written in a clear and engaging style, that book is commended to anyone with more than a passing interest in Fiji postcards up to World War 2. It can still be purchased online from the Fiji Museum Store.
PLEASE NOTE that personal time commitments mean that I CANNOT provide copies of any of the photographs on this website for any purpose whatever. It is suggested that enquiries be directed to the Fiji Museum.
o I: Towns pre-1950
o II: Scenery pre-1950
o III: Fijians pre-1950 A. Houses and villages. B. Activities associated with rivers and sea. C. The people. D. Domestic activities. E. Rituals & ceremonies. F. Warriors and war. G. Non-Fijian ethnographic photos with a Fiji connection.
o IV: Fiji & its people: 1950s - 1970s
o V: Indo-Fijians
Those interested in these postcards, or in postcards generally, may wish to refer to the book described on the flyer HERE. It is by the late Dr. Elsie Stephenson, and is published in Suva by Caine's Jannif, the shop descended from the Caine who took some of the early photographs on this site. I have no commercial or personal interest in this book.
LINKS: o Other old Fiji photographs o Jane Resture's Fiji postcards o Fiji Museum Glassplate Images o Old Girmit-era photographs