Friday, December 31, 2010

Buon Anno – 1937

This gorgeous hand-tinted real photograph vintage postcard is an Italian New Year greetings card written, dated and presumably posted, on 31st December, 1936 and postmarked with a cancellation for the following day - 1st January, 1937.

As with any postcards published in Italy during those years, however, there is always a darker side to the story in spite of what, at first glance, looks like a simple romantic card. Issued by Turin-based publisher Fotocelere di A. Campassi during Italy's infamous Fascist decades when there was a bizarre, yet entirely serious attempt to displace the Anno Domini system with Roman numerals to denote the number of years since the establishment of the Fascist government in 1922, the postal cancellation indicates the year as "37 – XV". The sender of the postcard, however, seems to have been rather confused by this system and even gets the year wrong, mistakenly writing "31-12-936 XV" instead of "XIV"! The publisher has also dated this card – if you look very carefully you'll spot "1936 XIV" printed immediately after Via Marochetti 41 (the company address). Even the words Poste Italiane on the 10 cent postage stamp featuring the effigy of Emperor Augustus are flanked either side by a symbolic bundle of sticks featuring an axe known as “fasces” (hence “fascism”). Dark days indeed, but then again, things have been grim of late in Il Bel Paese more recently too, with a modern day wannabe dictator running the country! But I digress...

Click to enlarge thumbnail
I still love this somewhat kitsch postcard with its painted backdrop and obviously artificial studio-staged snow scene and was thrilled to find such a perfect example of a year change postcard, which always seem harder to find than one would imagine!

Happy New Year and Happy Postcard Friendship Friday...the last of 2010!
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, December 17, 2010

Hearty Good Wishes for Xmas and the New Year – 1906

Christmas is nearly upon us so I thought this would be a good time to share this vintage Christmas postcard on Postcard Friendship Friday! Rather than the usual snow and Santa seasonal images, however, this postcard is a traditional seaside souvenir onto which an embossed Christmas greeting has been added!

The view is of Tenby, South Sands, on the very beautiful Pembrokeshire coast of South West Wales, seen from Saint Catherine's Rock, a place renowned in Queen Victoria's day as a health resort and still a hugely popular seaside destination today for UK holiday makers. The postcard is full of delightful details - the beach is crowded with bathing machines, mobile bathing huts that allowed bathers to change into swimwear inside and be taken directly to the water's edge and discreetly take a dip without exposing as much as an ankle! Needless to say, these were all the rage in the prudish Victorian era. Whilst the postcard may have been posted on Christmas Eve in 1906, this image is probably from the 1890s when the postcard publisher F. Frith & Co.Ltd from Reigate seem to have added numerous images of the Welsh seaside location to their photographic archives (see Photos of Tenby - Francis Frith).

The year on the postmark isn't immediately very clear, but seeing as this is a yellow-green King Edward VII half penny stamp which was in use only from 1904 – 1910, 1906 would seem to be the best match.

Curiously, the message has been written upside down:
With Best wishes
for a very merry
Xmas & a bright
& Prosperous New
Year. From Bert
I second Bert's sentiments and wish you all Happy Holidays!

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, December 10, 2010

Times Square, New York in 1955 – posted 1962

Times Square - Click on the image to see it enlarged
When I first set eyes on this vintage postcard of Times Square in New York it wasn't the image that grabbed my attention at first, as fabulous as it may be – who can resist a nostalgic image of 1950s New York after all? Instead, it was the sheer size of the postcard that made it stand out from the others in a bargain box – at 22 by almost 14 cm (8.7 by 5.5 inches) it really is huge! It has suffered a lot of creasing over the years – probably much of it caused when it crossed the Atlantic from NY to Rome in 1962.

This Times Square souvenir postcard may have been posted in 1962, but we can date the photograph quite precisely to several years earlier thanks to several clues in the image: Loew's State Theatre is showing The Phenix City Story, which was glowingly reviewed by the New York Times on September 3, 1955 as “an uncommonly good little film” the day after it opened at Loew's State (see Sin in the South; 'The Phenix City Story' Has Debut at State), whilst for movie goers looking for something more lightweight, the Criterion is offering the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis vehicle You're Never Too Young, which had been released ten days earlier on August 25, 1955.

Vintage topographical postcards are a treasure trove for information about past times and this card is a wonderful example - I love the Chevrolet and Admiral Television Appliances adverts, which for a European seem so quintessentially 1950s America – but it is the Bond Clothing Store on the right, with its distinctive Two Trouser Suits sign that seems to have had the most unusual history. As a final confirmation of the date of this photograph, in 1955 Pepsi took over the sign site and installed two 50 foot tall Pepsi bottles either side of a giant bottle cap, above their slogan 'The Light Refreshment' and a waterfall. In the 1940s, instead of Pepsi bottles there had actually been two 7-storey tall nude figures of a man and a woman causing guests at the Astor Hotel opposite to complain about their indecency! Look closely and you'll also see a branch of The Woolworth Store on the ground floor, next to Whelan Drug. (See New York Architecture Images for further information about Times Square.)

The card carries the names of two publishers with their respective numbering systems – I assume that one company was the printer and the other the distributor and would guess that as it's a Plastichrome card, it was printed by Boston company ColourPictures Publishers Inc., (note the English spelling of “colour”) and distributed by the New York publishers Manhattan Post Card Pub. Co., Inc. I'm including the back of the postcard, but for reasons of privacy have masked the name of the sender and recipient as both parties may quite feasibly still be alive.

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