Posts Tagged ‘wellcome collection’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on August 18, 2009 at 11:49 am
Filed under: History & Information, wellcome collection

Tom card galore – naughty London at the Wellcome Collection

I’ve blogged a few times about the Wellcome Collection, a fantastic collection of weird medical stuff – okay, it’s a serious scientific collection, but I’m not much of a scientist.

Now I’ve found out they have a secret collection, too, a sort of ‘Black Museum’ if you like. They’ve been collecting ‘tom cards’ (prostitutes’ calling cards).

British Telecom has tried to ban prostitutes from advertising in phone boxes for years and years and years – without much success.

But the Wellcome Collection has been out collecting the cards. They join cigarette adverts as examples of advertising for things that can ruin your health – a slightly oblique relevance to a healthcare orientated collection.

There are 17 boxes of the things! Not, alas, in the exhibited part of the collection – you’ll have to ask specially if you want to see them.

If you want to know more, there’s an article here on Londonist. And of course if you lurk around phone boxes in the West End – or around King’s Cross – you can see tom cards in their natural habitat, so to speak.

Alas, it seems that technology has achieved what British Telecom and the London Assembly couldn’t. Tom cards are disappearing as we take up mobile technology. Who needs a phonebox if you’ve got a Blackberry?

Photo by Mark Hillary on flickr


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