Historical Tourism

Kitty’s postcards feature many historic sites of Egypt ranging from the times of the pharaohs through Greco-Roman and Islamic periods. Many tourists would rush to visit these sites with their Baedeker guides in hand, following pre-constructed routes throughout the Cairo and Alexandria, among other cities. The views in these postcards are particularly valuable since many sites (Islamic and ancient) have faced damage and/or extensive restoration during the following decades due to war and wear. Thus Kitty’s collection acts as a historical snapshot of sites as they stood in the early twentieth century.

Printers in Cairo during this period readily responded to the interest in these historic sites by producing postcards that corresponded exactly to each place mentioned in these travel guides. Through these postcards, a collector or recipient could easily reconstruct the tour routes listed in guides like Baedeker’s, thus creating the experience for an armchair traveler. Such souvenirs also acted as a form of advertisement for the hotels in the area. For example, Kitty Lord received two of the exact same postcard of the Gezireh-Palace Hotel from two separate men. Perhaps this hotel acted as a regular rendezvous point for dates and meetings. Regardless, the presence of these circulating images illustrates how closely these printers, hotels, and text publications functioned in sync as part of a wider tourist industry.

January 2017

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