Friday, November 26, 2010

Paysanne de la Côte d'Azur – early 1900s

It's been wet weather all the way here in Rome for the last couple of weeks and whilst today has seen some sunshine, the clear skies have brought lower temperatures and there's a distinct chill of winter in the air. Maybe that's what made me choose this gorgeous summer image of the French Riveria today, which features a Paysanne de la Côte d'Azur (translated literally a Peasant from the Côte d'Azur) in traditional Provencal costume, carrying bunches of flowers in a Provence-style basket and sitting on what is now a dwindling local breed of donkey – the Provence or Migration donkey.

I picked up this vintage Raphael Tuck postcard on my last trip back to the UK and was attracted to it instantly, because it was the first time I'd come across a Tuck card that had been issued from the company's Paris offices. As the company grew, they opened offices in both New York and Paris in 1900 and indeed, the family business is credited as Sté Ame Raphael Tuck & Fils on the reverse of the card.

The postcard is uncirculated, but I'm guessing that it was issued in the early part of the last century because this is one of Raphael Tuck & Sons' enormously popular Oilette series – if you look carefully you'll see the Oilette logo in the bottom left corner of the card (although this information is not repeated on the reverse). Oilette was a term create by Tuck to distinguish their postcard series that reproduced specially commissioned paintings of popular landmarks or scenes, as opposed to photographic views. Later issues in this series were printed on embossed paper to simulate brush strokes on the surface of a painting, but this particular postcard is completely smooth and printed on rather thick, heavy card.

No.63 in the Côte d'Azur series, it is an artist signed view by N. Beraud, clearly a stalwart of the Rapahel Tuck stable of artists as this is a name that appears on not only numerous French postcard views of the time, but everything else from kittens and flowers to soldiers at the front! Whilst I've been able to find a few original paintings by the artist on the Internet, I've been unable to track down any other information as to the identity of this extremely prolific postcard illustrator – was N. Beraud a man or a woman, I wonder? If anybody knows anything more about N. Beraud (or Béraud) please feel free to leave a message below!
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

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Forth Rail Bridge, Scotland – 1930s

Whenever faced with what seems like a never-ending task, an old English colloquialism that I learned as a child will still spring to my mind – it's like painting the Forth Bridge! It refers, of course, to the maintenance required to keep the Firth of Forth Rail Bridge, the second longest cantilever bridge in the world, looking new - the very second the bridge has been repainted, work commences immediately on the next repaint! Or so it has always been said. Imagine my disappointment, therefore, when I recently discovered that this expression is based on an urban myth! Whilst the 1.5 mile long bridge does have a permanent maintenance crew, according to a 2004 New Civil Engineer report on modern maintenance, the practice of continually repainting the bridge has never actually existed!

The Forth Rail Bridge was opened on 4 March 1890 at a cost of over £3 million. This uncirculated postcard was published by Scottish firm Valentine's some forty years later in the 1930s, but it is clear from the statistics proudly listed on the front of the card, that it was still considered an extraordinary feat of engineering – as it is to this very day, in fact.

This postcard was issued as part of Valentine's Carbo Colour cards, but unlike many in this series from the 1930s, it has a plain white border instead of a Tartan frame. It uses a limited halftone palette and almost looks like a hand-coloured drawing – I particularly like the detail of the steam train, with its long trail of smoke billowing behind it! Unfortunately this postcard has suffered some water damage over the years - its glossy gelatin finish has some cracking to the surface and it has yellowed over time. It was such a striking image, however, that I still wanted it for my collection!

I also stumbled upon this wonderful bit of footage from 1963 of the old ferry (visible in the postcard) at South Queensferry and the Rail Bridge. At the end of the film the uncompleted Forth Road Bridge is also shown - the ferry stopped operating in 1964 when the road bridge opened. Watch the video below or click here to watch 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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The King at the Front - 1914-18

Lest we forget...Today, 11th November, is Remembrance Day, so I thought this image of King George V at the front during the First World War would be a timely post.

Issued as No.87 in Series XI (Nos. 81-88) of the enormously popular official war photographs published in 22 sets of 8 postcards each by the Daily Mail newspaper under Crown Copyright during 1914 – 18, this particular card is typical of the others in its set. Produced exclusively for the British market during the war these postcards obviously tended to emphasise the positive and are mildly propagandist showing battle victories and celebrating fallen soldiers as war heroes. As the back of the card shows, this military postcard had to pass the censor before publication.

This image shows the King outside a captured German dug-out, whilst the remaining images in this set were entitled: The Smile of victory; King George and King Albert enjoy an amusing anecdote; A Talk to peasants; The King meets a hospital matron; Attending church service in the field; At the grave of a fallen hero; A Greeting from the troops.

A printed colour postcard, from a hand-tinted back and white photograph, this uncirculated divided back postcard is in pristine condition. A lovely card for the collection, which I picked up on my last trip back home to the UK.