I first visited Tenby on regular family holidays three or four times a year from my home in Neath. At the age of five or six I can remember exploring the caves and rock pools. The town made a deep and lasting impression on me.
Following my retirement I settled in Tenby and opened Cofion (‘Remembrances’), a second hand book shop and Edwardian postcard shop on Bridge Street, within touching distance of the Tudor Merchants House, a location which ensures plenty of customers from the steady flow of visitors who venture down the small side street off Tenby’s busy main square. If the majority of these are bound for the Merchant’s House, there’s a substantial minority who make a beeline for Cofion. It’s wonderful to see the number of people who return to Tenby every year who never fail to call in for a chat and (hopefully) to find some long sought after book or postcard. Cofion stocks some 30,000 picture postcards in its small but packed premises. The postcards co-exist happily with the shelves full of second hand books and the shop hums quietly with the energy of all that concentrated attention as browsers and searchers share the very limited space.
The collecting bug bit me forty years ago while working in Nottingham. I attended a sale of memorabilia at the city’s Empire Theatre and chanced across some portraits by Tom Browne, a Nottingham born water colourist who worked for a book publisher and a postcard publisher. I am now lucky to own a number of Browne portraits and scores of Tom Browne postcards. It was Browne that got me interested in postcards. At that time you could pick up postcards cheaply. Now they have become big business with International Fairs. However you can still pick up mass-produced cards of Tenby for £2 to £3 at Cofion. In my opinion the importance of the card is in the eye of the beholder.
In order to find new Tenby cards, I have had to travel miles around the country. I am constantly amazed at the number of cards produced in, and taken of, our town. I even found one in a Parisian street market. I take great pleasure in examining all the photographs and artwork on local cards as they all reveal something different each time. The messages on the cards also reveal the attitudes of people visiting Dinbych-y-Pysgod
To me Tenby is my town and not just a ‘little fort of the fish’ but of significant historical interest. Long may it last.