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Tart Cards: London's Illicit Advertising Art Paperback – June 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The practice of placing prostitutes' cards in phone boxes is known as 'carding'. It is a particularly English phenomenon specific to London and the seaside resorts of Brighton and Hove where they serve a flourishing tourist trade. There have also been small outcrops of cards on the coast of North Lincolnshire that cater for a transient maritime population. Elsewhere in the UK, prostitutes still hold to the older methods of notices in shop windows although advertising in local newspapers is also used.

Behind the cards there is a vibrant and well-organised industry that comprises prostitutes, punters [clients], pimps and printers. It is an illicit business, but one that is thriving and persistent and where money changes hands swiftly and inconspicuously. Carding started as a kitchen table industry with a handful of prostitutes and their maids cutting out images, drawing their own illustrations, rubbing down lettering and then passing it all over to a trusted printer. It has developed into an extensive, professional, well-organised and highly technical production process that utilises the latest manufacturing systems. -Caroline Archer, from "Foreplay" the introduction to Tart Cards.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972424040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972424042
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The best 1 cent I ever paid for a book (plus $3.95 s/h). A funny look at the foibles of our English cousins, who aren't quite as Puritanical as advertised. Just hide it where the kids won't find it, 'cause you won;t get it back!
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By cdn on August 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
I found it is a great compilation! I will highly recommend it to others.
Just what I was looking for.
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Format: Paperback
Marshall McLuhan wrote that advertising was the cave art of the twentieth century. He wasn't around to see a particularly interesting manifestation of the cave art in London starting in 1984. At that time, because of a loophole in the law, London prostitutes started advertising in phone boxes. The practice became so prominent that now a book reproducing hundreds of the cards, along with a brief documentation of the history and sociology of the practice, has been produced: _Tart Cards: London's Illicit Advertising Art_ (Mark Batty Publisher), by Caroline Archer, is a surprising and good-looking examination of the legal, social, commercial, and advertising issues involved in the cards, as well as an amusing collection of cards offering many different sexual practices. If you can't spend time in a London phone box, this book will take you there.
Advertising in phone boxes, which belonged to the Post Office and thus the government, was illegal until 1984, when British Telecom was privatized. Enterprising prostitutes saw the loophole and moved their cards from news agents to phone boxes; after all, each card sported a telephone number, and it made sense to advertise where potential clients could use it immediately. Sometimes the women place their own cards, but they more often subcontract this work to "carders," often students or unemployed. Placing 600 cards a day might get a carder 200 pounds; thus mere card distribution is a trade of millions of pounds per year. Catherine Archer has her doctorate in typography, and is especially interested in the typefaces of the cards. A historic typeface from the nineteenth century tends to be used for cards offering mock schoolgirl services or flagellation. Massage services often have whimsical and feminine scripts.
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