York the Postcard Collection by Paul Chrystal (Amberley £14.99)

At the Little Apple bookshop we are big fans of ephemera and trivia: this digestible history of York told through old postcards combines the two to great effect. High Petergate is currently home to The Eagle and Child pub, but here we find out that there used to be a pub of that name in the Shambles in the 1920’s. Alongside postcards of Ken Spelman booksellers on Micklegate, one current and one vintage, we are told that York was third only to London and Oxford for its number of booksellers and printers, as attested by the printer’s devil, still a major feature on Stonegate today.

Excitingly, a postcard of our very own bookshop (designed by our lovely staff member Jennie Lister) is featured on page 75. This must be one of the most modern designs in the book.

On the whole, the postcards are black and white or sepia. I love the ones where the people stand still and stare at the camera, caught forever in a distant world. Some of the featured buildings are still very familiar, like The Black Swan from 1907 (we are told the upstairs room used to be used for illegal cockfights), others like the Yearsley Open Air Baths on Haxby Road and the City Roller Skating Palace are sadly long gone.

There are also some art postcards from the LNER, a comic postcard of “the hilly bit of Old York” picturing a horse-drawn tram struggling up Micklegate and plenty of other York stalwarts: the Mystery Plays, the Minster, floods. Books like this are to be dipped into again and again. If you haven’t got a collection of books on York yet, this would be a good place to start.

Review by Philippa Morris, Little Apple Bookshop

image from https://www.amberley-books.com/york-the-postcard-collection.html