Postcards are, in general, a thing of the past... which is probably why they are collectable. But that means that it's not just WAFL collectors who are chasing the few WAFL postcards which were issued in the early part of last century. You'll also have to compete with postcard collectors if you want to get your hands on one of these rare beauties. And all of that means they can sometimes go for big money. Below is a list of the known sets of mass-produced WAFL postcards, while I've also included a list of one-off postcards at the end.
The first set of postcards featuring WAFL teams was, in fact, the earliest known set of WAFL cards of any type. These were made by Scottish company Valentine & Sons, which was the world's biggest manufacturer of postcards. Each featured a cartoon scene of a single footballer in club colours. Cards were made for each of the clubs in the VFL, VFA, SANFL and WAFL at the time, along with the clubs in English soccer. It is the existence of the East Perth card (which features the jumper only worn by that club in 1906 and 1907) that effectively dates the set to that period. While these are rare and I have never seen more than about a dozen of the WAFL cards in total, the only WAFL card that I have not yet seen is the West Perth card. Sadly the only one in my own collection is the North Fremantle card.
While the East Fremantle postcard from this series has been seen a few times over the years, the South Fremantle, Perth and West Perth cards only recently surfaced. For a time, I had expected to then find cards for the other WAFL teams of the era - East Perth, Subiaco, Midland Junction and North Fremantle. But the recent discovery of an article from the Daily News from September 1907 has put paid to that dream. There are, in fact, only four cards in the set and they feature the four teams that made the finals. The cards themselves were published by Geo Kidson & Co of Barrack St Perth and printed by Dodgson & Muhling of Hay St. Some of these cards have an advertisement stamped on the back for people to attend the game between the State team and a "next best" team, which was to be played on August 8th, 1908, but the advertisement was likely added by an external agency at a later date.
East Fremantle with state game advertisement
Perth with state game advertisement
South Fremantle with state game advertisement
West Perth with state game advertisement
First discovered by collectors in 2018, only three cards from this rare set of postcards have emerged. The first two cards were made for S.D. Rash Drapery Store, which was located across the road from the Fremantle Train Station Station and boasted it was “West Australia’s keenest bargain centre” . The third was made for Phil Coyle, who claimed to be the only agent in Perth for No. 10 Whisky and whose cellars were at the corner of Barrack St and St George's Tce. All three cards featured black & white photographs with hand colouring and were printed by Popular Opinion Print, which was based in Rokeby Rd in Subiaco. The date of production could well have been 1920 because of two things - first, the careers of the three players featured on the cards only overlapped from 1920 to 1923; and second, during that period, South Fremantle only wore a jumper with vertical stripes (as worn by Bateman in one of the photographs) in 1920. That said, the jumper featured on the postcard of Subiaco's John Beasley had not been worn by the Maroons since 1913, so the jumpers may be a red herring. Whatever the case, they were certainly made between 1920 and 1923.
FC Ion - East Fremantle (Fred Ion)
W Bateman - South Fremantle (Bill Bateman)
J Beasley - Subiaco (John Beasley)
Very little information exists about these postcards, which carry no maker's mark. They feature black-and-white team photographs of the seven WAFL teams of the day, and carry the players' names underneath. The jumpers have been over-coloured later in the production process, which was a common style of the era. The photographs appear to have been taken on a match day because there are 19 players in each photograph, rather than an entire league squad.
Much like for the 1933 cards, there are no maker's marks on these and it is likely they were made by the same company. However, in terms of quality, these are a real step up on the previous issue. These postcards feature full-colour photographs of each of the eight WAFL teams from 1934. I have only seen the Perth and West Perth versions (several times each) from this set, but it's assumed others exist. There are 19 players on the West Perth card, suggesting it's a match-day photograph, but 21 on the Perth card. Again, the players' names are printed underneath. This is the first series likely to feature Swan Districts, which joined the league in 1934.
This was the fifth, and last-known, release of WAFL postcards. Issued in 1937 by tobacconists Michelides Ltd, of Northbridge, the cards featured plain-looking black-and-white team shots with the players' names underneath. On the reverse was printed: "With Compliments of Michelides Ltd. President, Luxor, White Oak, ML Tobaccos, Cigarettes." These were originally thought to have been issued in 1938, but the recent discovery of an advertisement in the local press from August 1937 allowed for the correction to be made. The advertisement also revealed that a card was obtained by bringing (or posting) the inside wrapper from a tin of Michelides tobacco to the company's Forrest Place shop.
While the above postcards are the known sets issued in Western Australia, plenty of other one-off postcards have been produced over the years (especially in the days when any photograph could be ordered on a postcard backing). I expect there have been many others relating to football in WA, but those below are the ones that I have seen during my years of collecting.