Friday, June 25, 2010

Dolores Del Río – early 1930s

I'm reading a fascinating biography of Orson Welles at the moment by David Thomson called Rosebud. One of those little pieces of Hollywood gossip that seems to have passed me by and I discovered through reading this book was the fact that for a period early on in Welles' film career, he had dated Mexican actress Dolores Del Río. This reminded me of this lovely Italian postcard featuring Del Río in which she looks particularly stunning – she has a timeless beauty that transcends fashion or different eras, although she is often described as the archetypal Art Deco model.

This is an uncirculated postcard printed by G.B. Falci, a Milan-based company. The image features Del Río as she appeared in the 1928 film Ramona in which she took the title role. It bears a photo credit to Associati Artisti, who were presumably the Italian distributors of the film (and not to be confused with Associated Artists Productions which existed much later in Hollywood from 1953 to 1958). Given the slight time lag between release and international distribution, I would guess that this card was probably issued in the early 1930s.

Born María de los Dolores Asúnsolo y López Negrete in 1905 and a veteran of the silent era and the Golden Age of Hollywood movies, Del Río had suffered somewhat in the crossover into talkies when she found herself suddenly relegated to playing racial stereotypes and met prejudice because of her accent. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, however, she made a triumphant return to the country of her birth and became Mexico's most important actress working with some of the finest directors in the country. A victim of McCarthyism, she was denied entry back into the States for many years. When she finally returned to Hollywood it was alongside Elvis Presley in one of the king's better movies - the 1960 western Flaming Star directed by Don Siegel. Her final film role saw her starring opposite Anthony Quinn in The Children of Sanchez in 1978, only five years before her death in 1983. In 2005, on the centenary of her birth, her ashes were transfered to the Rotunda of Illustrious Persons in Mexico City.

Whilst researching this post I stumbled upon this wonderful slide show accompanied by Dolores Del Río singing the song Ramona which was written for the film. Whilst it was never actually used in the movie, the actress performed it during promotional appearances for the film. Watch it below or click here to watch in on YouTube.

Find more vintage postcards over at Beth's postcard blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

Postcard Friendship Friday

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reading a letter - 1924

I've mentioned before on this blog how irresistible I find French postcards from the 1920s. Published by Paris printers P-C, this is yet another wonderful example of the hand-tinted real photograph vintage postcards with the extraordinary garish colours that were evidently enormously popular at the time. I just love the detailed decoration on the desk lamp - I'm pretty sure that IKEA produced a retro-looking lampshade some years back which was rather similar!

Whilst this postcard may be uncirculated, luckily for us there is a dated message on the reverse - 16th June, 1924. The card is in immaculate condition bar a little metallic tarnishing around the edges indicating that this probably a silver bromide print.

If you'd like to own a high quality reproduction of this card then please click here to visit my newly launched Zazzle store!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The FIFA World Cup in Italy – 1990

 With football (or soccer) fans the world over glued to TV screens watching the World Cup in South Africa these days I thought it might be nice to take a look at a vintage 1990 FIFA World Cup postcard – the year that Italy hosted the 14th edition of the championship. Italy currently holds the title at the time of writing this post, but in 1990 they finished third, ahead of England in fourth place, with Germany beating Argentina for the title in the final.

This uncirculated souvenir postcard was issued by the publishers R.A.I.I. and is, curiously, printed on self-adhesive paper. It features the legs of an Italian player with distinctive blue socks – the team is nicknamed Gli Azzurri in Italian after the blue colour of their kit!

The 1990 World Cup is one that I seem to remember particularly well. I was still living in the UK in those days and watched the coverage of the championship on the BBC. The opening title sequence they used at the beginning of Italia '90 World Cup coverage featured Luciano Pavarotti's performance of 'Nessun Dorma' from Puccini's final opera 'Turandot', which turned Italy's Big Luciano from an opera star into a pop star overnight and brought the previously somewhat elitist world of opera to a wider audience. The track was even a hit in the UK singles chart at the time!

Watch the opening sequence from the BBC again below or click here to watch it on YouTube.

Find more vintage postcards over at Beth's postcard blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

Postcard Friendship Friday

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Dickens House Museum - 1930s

The Victorian novelist and outspoken supporter of social reform Charles Dickens died 140 years ago on 9 June, 1870, so I thought it might be a good time to share this souvenir postcard of the The Dickens House Museum appropriately printed by one of Britain's most famous postcard publishers Raphael Tuck & Sons. First established in London in 1866 selling pictures and frames, it was only when Raphael Tuck was joined by his three sons and in particular the enterprising Adolph that they began publishing greeting cards in 1871 and then postcards in 1894.

Curiously, the early career of the company as a postcard publisher was closely associated with the life and works of Dickens - in the early 1900s they had launched a series of Oilette souvenir views of places associated with the writer called In Dickens Land.

This real photograph postcard features the Drawing Room at 48 Doughty Street, London which had been home to the Dickens family between 1837 and 1839, when Dickens first became famous. The Dickens Fellowship purchased the property in 1925 at the encouragement of a leading Dickensian and scholar B.W. Matz with the scope of preserving the house as a Dickens shrine and as a National Dickens Library and Museum. In fact, it has been upon to the public ever since and the drawing room houses the Matz Collection.

This postcard is uncirculated so I can only hazard a guess at when it was issued as Tuck's was operational until at least the mid 1960s. Back in 1893 the firm had been awarded with the Royal Warrant by Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Victoria and their postcards were always emblazoned with the Royal Coat of Arms, a distinction they continued to win until Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. This postcard reads "Art Publishers to their Majesties the King and Queen" and I believe the King referred to here is either George V who reigned until 1936, or George VI who succeeded him after the abdication of Edward VIII putting this card in the 1930s.

On 29th December 1940 in a devastating air raid Raphael House, the home of Tuck's Postcards, was heavily bombed, destroying all their records and most original photographs in their archives. Thankfully, their postcards had been sent (and collected!) in their millions meaning that at least part of that heritage was saved and the company was able to rebuild and enjoy several more decades of successful publishing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Landscape with poetry by Giovanni Bertacchi - 1928

dei solitari pascoli ne la calma diffusa,
con tranquillo tintinno, va de la mandre il suon
This gorgeous blue tinted vintage postcard features two lines of poetry by the Italian poet and literary critic Giovanni Bertacchi (1869-1942), which to paraphrase the words, talk of the calm that spreads over lonely pastures through the tinkling sound of herds of cattle. The words chosen match the image perfectly and seem to have been hand stamped separately in the space provided as the words are very lightly indented.

The poet was from Chiavenna and his poetry revealed a love of the local landscape and its mountains and valleys; on some occasions, he even wrote verses in the local dialect known as "chiavennasco". A professor of literature at Padua University from 1916, he resigned in 1938 in protest at the Fascist regime. His most famous collection is probably his first, Il Canzoniere delle Alpi published in 1895.

In doing a little research for this post I was thrilled to discovered that Giovanni Bertacchi was also involved in the production of a series of touristic postcards of Chiavenna as evidenced by some correspondence dated from 1933 in which he provided poetic captions for local views and sites. I've no idea if he was also involved in the production of this earlier postcard but I like to think that it may be a possibility! You can read more about those later postcards at Giovanni Bertacchi LibroWeb (in Italian).

The other aspect of this card that excited my curiosity when I first saw it on a market stall in Rome, was that it was posted to Treia, an exquisite hilltop village in the province of Macerata that I know rather well! I am always curious when I see upside down postage stamps on postcards too – was the sender adding a secret “I love you” message?

Find more vintage postcards over at Beth's postcard blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

Postcard Friendship Friday