E.T.W. Dennis
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About the publisher

E.T.W. Dennis was one of the most prolific and long lasting of British postcard publishers. The firm was founded in 1870 as general printers,  and went on to publish the first British picture postcard in 1894. The firm remained in postcard production for 106 years, going into liquidation in 2000. Their premises in Scarborough were demolished in 2013. The business name was sold and other postcards have continued to be published under the ETWD name since then..


 Edward Thomas West Dennis was born in London in 1847. He worked as an apprentice to a bookseller, stationer and printer, and then moved to Scarborough in 1870  There he operated a library, printing business and retail shop for stationery and books. He expanded the printing business and by 1893 it was his primary business activity. His business consisted of all types of printing, but particularly postcards from 1894.  He died in 1923, and his business was continued by his sons.


Privately published picture postcards were permitted in the UK from  1894, and ETWD entered the field in that year.  (These were the first UK picture postcards, with one side labelled “The address only to be written on this side” and the other side with a printed picture and room for correspondence). From 1894 to the early 1900s ETWD was one of the first producing a variety of styles of monochrome and multi-coloured printed cards in the UK. Some of their early multicolour  cards were produced in collaboration with German printers, perhaps C.G. Roder in Liepzig.


Subsequently, ETWD was a prolific producer of an extensive range of postcards, being among the top 10 of British postcard publishers. The range covered all topics imaginable; townscapes, countryside, castles and grand houses, public buildings, holiday spots, maps, scenery of all types from beaches to mountains, cute children and puppies, musical and pull-out novelty cards, and reproduction of famous and less famous artists’ paintings. One of the mainstays was the picturesque view of British towns and villages, sometimes localised with the name of the town overprinted. 


 The history of E.T.W. Dennis is documented by Anthony Byatt in Picture Postcards and their Publishers, published in 1978, and updated to 2014 by George Webber, on his web site  http://www.webber-postcard.me.uk/. This article is drawn from these two sources.  The numbering system for more modern ETWD cards is described by Steve Hillier at http://hillierbc.com/dennispostcards.html