Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bonne Année - 1920s

Anybody with even a passing interest in collecting vintage postcards from the early 20th century will have certainly come across an image published by the PC of Paris studio at some time or another; an enormously prolific company, PC of Paris was well known for its erotic nudes, as well as rather more innocent scenes such as this delightful New Year's Eve greetings card from the Golden Age of postcard production. This card is a little different, however, in that the publisher logo in the bottom right hand corner of the card – the initials PC inside a Star of David – is unlike the usual PC of Paris insignia which places the initials inside a circle and includes the name of the city. Very mysterious – it may be that this is an entirely different PC!

Regardless of the publisher, this hand tinted real photo postcard with hand painted additions of mistletoe and snow decorations, is a real gem. It was never posted, although it carries a new year's message on the reverse and was presumably delivered by hand. There is no date, but it was most likely issued during the 1920s or early 1930s.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Decorating the Christmas Tree - Buon Natale - 1941

The countdown to Christmas in Rome seems to start very suddenly on 8th December - a public holiday celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – when the city's Christmas lights are switched on and tourists and Romans alike pack the streets of the Eternal City to admire the decorations and start shopping for gifts. With this in mind I thought I'd share a vintage Italian Christmas postcard that I picked up from one of my favourite market stalls in Piazza Borghese in Rome yesterday, when I joined the thronging masses in town.

This gorgeous artist signed vintage postcard of two children decorating a Christmas tree was posted just in time for Christmas on 24 December 1941. It was printed by the Florence-based postcard company Ballerini & Fratini (1912 - the present day) and features an exquisite lithographic design by the prolific illustrator G.Piattoli.

The details are particularly lovely on this card with the lucky horseshoe, the pattern on the vase and border picked out in gold, with only the slightest shift of registration in the offset printing with some mismatched edges around the boy's hat and the puppy dog. The illustrator's signature is in the bottom right hand corner and incorporates the city Firenze – Florence.

A wonderful find! Buon Natale!

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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 11, 2011

Bamforth & Co. Songs Series Postcards – World War I

When the War is Over, Mother Dear
 As we drew closer to today's unique date - 11th November, 2011 - there was some considerable speculation online as to whether something mystical might happen at exactly the eleventh second of the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour on the eleventh day in the eleventh month in this, the eleventh year of the new century! Lest we forget, however, 11th November has always been a special day on which we remember the fallen and recall the official end of World War I on that same date in 1918. Formally known as Armistice Day, it is now called Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom and Veterans Day in the United States. On a recent trip back to the UK I found a wonderful collection of First World War military postcards issued by Bamforth & Co. Ltd. so thought today would be an excellent moment to share some of them here.

Bamforth & Co. Ltd. Logo
Bamforth & Co. Ltd. was a postcard publisher with a colourful history. Founder James Bamforth started out in 1870 as a portrait photographer in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, turning his attention to the making of lantern slides in 1883. From the enormously popular lantern slides, the progression into silent movies was perhaps a logical step and in 1898 Bamforth & Co. Ltd. started making silent films. The filmmaking side of the business, whilst prolific, lasted only a few years, and the company is best known nowadays for the thousands of comic and saucy seaside postcards it produced, right through to the 1980s. By 1905 Bamforth & Co. Ltd. even had a branch in the States, and indeed the reverse of these cards reads Holmfirth (England) and New York, together with its distinctive Art Nouveau logo.

Bamforth 'Song Series' Postcards usually featured a popular sentimental song or hymn and a scene depicting a soldier missing a loved one – either his sweetheart or mother.

When the war is over, mother dear - as featured on the first postcard in this post - was written and composed by A.J. Mills, J.P. Long and Bennett Scott. You can listen to the song performed by English tenor Ernest Pike (stage name Herbert Payne) in this 1915 recording – the verse on the postcard comes about half way through the song – or click here to listen on YouTube.

Mother Machree
Mother Machree was another popular song of the time, written by Rida Johnson Young and composed by Chauncey Olcott and Ernest R. Ball in 1910. The chorus is featured on the postcard:
Sure, I love the dear silver
That shines in your hair,
And the brow that's all furrowed,
And wrinkled with care.
I kiss the dear fingers,
So toil-worn for me,
Oh, God bless you and keep you,
Mother Machree.
Listen to the famous Irish tenor John McCormack singing Mother Machree below or click here to listen on YouTube.

Down Texas Way
A.J. Mills & Bennett Scott were joined by Fred Godfrey for composition of the hugely successful song Down Texas Way - the song went on to sell half a million copies of sheet music. Click here to listen to a 1921 recording by Frank Oldfield.

Check out the Vintage Postcard Store for more Vintage Bamforth & Co.Ltd. postcards! 

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, October 7, 2011

Port Saint-Nicolas in Paris by Yvon – 1920s

I came across this uncirculated 1920s French postcard of Le Port Saint-Nicolas in Paris (translated as St. Nicolas Harbour on the back of the card) on a market stall at Rome's most famous flea market at Porta Portese. It reminded me instantly of the postcard of the Pool of London that I last looked at on this blog, although this shot seemed to me to have something extra special about it that set it apart from the usual run of the mill topographical tourist postcards. Whilst it's less evident in the scan above, the tonality of the print is absolutely gorgeous and there's a real sense of depth – the foggy distant river bank and the reflective sheen on the water are in stark contrast with the looming steamer and dockside ships.

Printed by the Parisian publisher Edition d’Art Yvon, it was issued as number 46 in series 3 of Paris...En Flanant - Strolling around Paris – which featured scenes of less typical and carefully photographed Parisian views such as this. Pierre Yves Petit was a Parisian photographer who began publishing postcards of his photographs under the trade name Edition d’Art Yvon in 1919, signing the front of the cards with the pseudonym"Yvon". Initially using the black and white collotype method, he then moved onto bromide sepia tinted cards, finally adopting the “modern” rotogravure method in 1923. The Yvon name is still used to this very day and there's a potted history on their website here (in French).

Port Saint-Nicolas, a once busy cargo port, took its name from from the neighbouring collegiate church, but is today know as Port du Louvre. The quay where cargo ships docked is now a promenade for pedestrians running along the Seine from the Pont des Arts, which is just visible in the background of this postcard, to the Pont Royal.

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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, September 2, 2011

The Pool of London and Tower Bridge - 1940s

Every time I visit London I'm struck by the amount of architectural changes that happen in the city - old buildings come down, new buildings go up – it's a city that is always in flux! No trip to London for me is complete without a walk across Hungerford Bridge over the Thames to the Southbank – the views from the bridge are spectacular, with the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye on one side, and the City and St.Pauls on the other. The City skyline always seems to be dotted with cranes and new constructions, but with the countdown to the 2012 Olympic Games well underway, the whole of London now seems to be abuzz with building activity.

This real photo 1940s postcard of the old London port at the Pool of London, with Tower Bridge in the background, illustrates perfectly just how busy London, and particularly the Thames, has always been. The cranes in this photograph are part of the docks – building cranes didn't arrive until the urban development of the area during the 1980s and 1990s. After centuries of use, the advent of shipping containers and coastal deep-water ports in the 1960s saw the dramatic demise of the Pool of London as an important commercial shipping port.

Reverse of card

Published by WHS, Bridge House, Real Photo Series, this uncirculated postcard carries a slightly misquoted line from one of Winston Churchill's most famous wartime speeches:
“Let us all strive without failing in faith or in duty”
Now known as the War of the Unknown Warriors Speech, it was broadcast by the BBC on 14th July 1940. A previous owner of this postcard has marked the back with the date 1945, but I suppose it would be reasonable to assume that it may have been issued at anytime between 1940 and the end of Churchill's first term of office in 1945.

The correct version of Churchill's words are towards the end of this passage:
"This is no war of chieftains or of princes, of dynasties or national ambition; it is a war of peoples and of causes. There are vast numbers, not only in this island but in every land, who will render faithful service in this war but whose names will never be known, whose deeds will never be recorded. This is a war of the Unknown Warriors; but let all strive without failing in faith or in duty, and the dark curse of Hitler will be lifted from our age."
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Postcard Friendship Friday

Friday, August 26, 2011

Do not ask me to come home, I am at Clacton – 1920s

I have recently returned from my summer holidays in the UK visiting family and friends and as usual, I came home to Rome with a new clutch of British vintage postcards in my suitcase! I'll share my new finds over the coming months on this blog, but before the summer hols finally draw to a close for kids in Britain I wanted to kick off with this absolutely stunning seaside postcard celebrating that most English of seaside resorts Clacton-on-Sea.

Red, yellow and blue dots
Situated on the Essex coast, with its sandy beaches, traditional pleasure pier and arcades, and during its heyday, a Butlins holiday camp too, Clacton it is still a popular day trip destination for Londoners today. The postmark on this postally used postcard is unclear, but it carries a red 1d (penny) George V stamp. Whilst the 1d red stamp was in use from 1st January 1912 until 1934, the postage rate for postcards didn't increase to one penny until 3rd June 1918, which most likely places this postcard somewhere in the 1920s. How strange to think that Clacton-on-Sea had, in fact, only been founded as a seaside town half a century earlier in 1871.

There is no indication of the publisher other than the words “F. M. Series” on the reverse of the card and it was printed using a simple, yet effective palette of red, yellow, and blue dots and stippled areas that vary in weight. Presumably the location could be swapped for any seaside location – this chirpy chap, with his red bucket and collection of seashells, would clearly be happy on any beach!

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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

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Launch of Apollo 11 Spaceflight and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon – 1969

The Space Shuttle Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the last time on Thursday 21 July bringing the Space Shuttle Program officially to a close and marking the end of an era. The Hubble Space Telescope, that extraordinary instrument, which has brought the universe closer to us via stunning images over the last twenty years, was originally carried into orbit by the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990 and has relied on regular servicing missions by Space Shuttle crews for its maintenance. With the closure of the program the telescope is expected to continue functioning until at least 2014, but will eventually stop working.

The final Space Shuttle landing, of course, falls very close to one of the most famous anniversaries in the history of space travel – the Apollo 11 mission and those famous first steps on the Earth's Moon on 20 July 1969 by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

These two vintage chrome printed postcards in mint condition depict iconic moments in the Apollo 11 space story: the launch of Saturn V on 16 July 1969, carrying the Apollo 11 crew consisting of Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins, together with their Lunar Module Eagle and the Command/Service Module Columbia; and Neil Armstrong's photograph of Buzz Aldrin on the Moon's surface, in which he is reflected in Aldrin's visor.

The launch card was issued by NASA Tours (conducted by TWA) and numbered 115153. It carries the following description:
At the moment of ignition, swing arms release and prepare to move away, clearing a path for the Apollo 11 space vehicle to lift off launch pad 39A.
The Aldrin Moon walk card was distributed by the Texas based G. P. Slide Co., Inc., is numbered 310121 and carries a longer description:
Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., LM pilot, walking on the moon. The knees of his pressure suit are smudged with moon dirt. Reflected in his golden-faced visor are the white outlines of Neil A. Armstrong, Commander, the landing craft, Eagle, the American Flag and one of the scientific experiments they set up. Their foot-prints are visible in the foreground.
It is perhaps this photograph, however, more than any other, which has helped fuel Moon landing conspiracy theories over the years. This postcard shows the image pretty much how Armstrong took it – with the upper frame cropped close to Aldrin's head. Within hours NASA had tidied the image up for aesthetic reasons of balance and added more black space above his head, thus adding to the claims that the entire Apollo program was a hoax. And as to what I think? Fox Mulder would say, I want to believe! You can read more about the history of the Buzz Aldrin photograph by clicking here.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Good Luck - 1909

Many international readers of this blog probably don't realise that in Italy where I live, Friday 17th is the equivalent of the more commonly recognised date of Friday 13th. I have even read that the Italian national airline carrier Alitalia has removed seat 17 from their planes, but I suspect that this might be an urban legend! One popular theory behind this peculiarly Italian superstition is that if the Roman numerals for 17 (XVII) are rearranged they spell “VIXI”, the Latin for “I have lived” or “My life is over”...spooky...or not, depending on how susceptible you are to such things. To cross my virtual fingers, however, I thought I'd post this vintage Good Luck postcard from 1909...just in case!

Good Luck postcards sent from British seaside resorts seem to have been all the rage in the early decades of the last century – I have a novelty card posted as late as 1958 from St.Ives, whilst this view of North Shore, Tenby, as with the postcard of Tenby, South Sands, which I shared over the festive period, was sent as a Christmas greetings card.

The popular seaside destination of Tenby is a walled medieval town and one of the jewels in the crown of the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline of South West Wales – even one of Britain's most celebrated British artists, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) made several water colour sketches of Tenby, the North Shore and in particular Goscar Rock, which looks like an island in this postcard, but can be easily reached at low tide where it sits in the middle of the sands.

Dainty Series logo
The vintage postcard was published by ETW Dennis & Sons, Ltd. (Scarborough and London, England) early on in a long career that started in 1901 and is still operational today. Issued as part of their “Dainty Series” No. 20205, it carries their rather lovely logo on the reverse and was printed using the halftone lithographic method – in fact, the dots that create the areas of sky and cloud are easily visible with the naked eye.

The final detail is, of course, the Good Luck message itself, written in tarnished bronze coloured embossed letters that seem to have been glued to the surface of the front of the card, rather than pressed into the postcard, as the reverse of the card is completely smooth.

Check out the Vintage Postcard Store for more Vintage Good Luck Postcards!

Tenby, as you'll see from the photo below, has changed very little over the years!

Goscar Rock - North Beach Tenby by pcgn7
Goscar Rock - North Beach Tenby a photo by pcgn7 on Flickr.

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, May 27, 2011

Dried flowers - 1908

Just over a year ago I wrote a post about discovering a second-hand book stall in Rome which sold some lovely vintage postcards. One of those postcards was an absolutely gorgeous real black and white photograph of a Tuberosa flower - the shop had several others, in fact, that I regretted not having bought at the time! As luck would have it, I happened to pass by that stall recently and the proprietor was able to lay her hands on the exact folder – almost all the postcards had been sold, but there was one highly unusual monochrome flower photograph postcard remaining! Like the previous card, there is an overall matte surface, however, unlike most vintage bromide prints there is absolutely no trace of any metallic-looking tarnish on this postcard, which leads me to think that this is almost certainly a collotype printed from a monotone photograph. Collotypes were extremely poular in Europe and the process was famous for the depth of detail that could be achieved – look at the downy surface of the petals!

I've scoured the Internet trying to match these dried flowers with living White Star varieties although I'm still not certain if I've identified them correctly – the Aquilegia White Star is a close fit as regards shape and petal arrangement, although the surface of these makes them look more like dried white flower shiitake mushrooms than blooms! Borage, with its hairy sepals in a star shape is another possibility – any suggestions gratefully received in the comments below if there are any keen flower gardening experts reading this!

There are absolutely no signs of a publishing house on this postcard, but it was posted in Italy in 1911 and carries a jauntily positioned stamp diagonally positioned towards the left which I have read means “Yes, I will” on anglophone websites, whilst an Italian language philatelic forum suggested that this means “Mi siete antipatico” ( I dislike you) – surely not?! Hopefully this postcard didn't break somebody's heart!

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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

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Skyline Trail, Jasper National Park, Canada - 1930s

This gorgeous Canadian landscape postcard was issued by prolific Ottawa-based publisher the Photogelatine Engraving Co., Limited. The Ontario company opened its doors in 1910, closing them for good in 1953 after a prolific period producing classic view-cards of Canada. Whilst this particular card is in pristine, uncirculated condition and therefore difficult to date precisely, the style is very much like other vintage cards the company produced during the 1930s – white, or rather, unprinted borders left around absolutely stunning tinted collotypes.

The Skyline Trail, in what is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jasper National Park in Alberta, is a favourite spot even to this day amongst hikers and is famous for its magnificent views of peaks such as Mount Assiniboine in the Canadian Rockies. Whilst the riders on horseback looking out over the view may conjure up ideas of cowboys – particularly to European eyes – this image of man gazing in awe at nature is wonderfully evocative and utterly timeless.

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To get a feel of the Skyline Trail today watch the video below or click here to watch it on YouTube!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Buona Pasqua – Happy Easter – 1939

When I saw this vintage 1930s real photograph Italian postcard on a stall in Rome I was instantly attracted to the rather kitsch staged scene of a romantic couple clutching Easter eggs and cherry blossom branches – it's highly reminiscent of the poses in French postcards of the 1920s, only this later card hasn't been embellished by the hand tinted colours that were so popular in the previous decade.

The models in this scene looked familiar to me – hairstyles and clothes of the day tend to blur resemblances to modern eyes, but when I got the card home and double-checked my collection I found what I'm pretty certain is the same couple posing in the snow, in a New Year's postcard from a couple of years earlier (click here to see my Christmas post). Issued by the exact same Turin-based publisher Fotocelere di A. Campassi in 1937 (although not posted until 1939), it was also dated in the same fashion as the earlier Christmas card using both the Anno Domini system as well as Roman numerals from the dark days of Italian Fascist Government with "1937 XV" printed immediately after the company address on the reverse of the card.

A little metallic tarnishing in the darker areas indicates that this is probably a silver bromide print - it's a pity that those eggs didn't get the odd daub of colour too!

Have a very Happy Easter!

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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, April 7, 2011

Fröhliche Ostern – Happy Easter – 1910

Easter falls very late this year at the end of April, although the advertising campaigns for Easter eggs have been in full tilt for a while now, reminding me of this gorgeous Easter postcard that I found on a second hand market stall some time ago and had stashed away. Posted from Löbau, a city in the east of Saxony, Germany, just over 101 years ago on 26 March, 1910, it is a very fine example of chromolithography with tight registration – there is barely a trace of the mismatched edges so common to lithographic prints using a rich palette, although the girl's hand on the left does charmingly break through the frame. The colours are still clean and bright and the postcard is also very delicately embossed with the Easter greeting in red slightly raised.

During the Golden Age of the Postcard in the early years of the last century, of course, Saxony was at the very heart of postcard production with many international firms relying on the high quality printing methods in the area, until the outbreak of the First World War stopped the industry in its tracks. Sadly, there's no information about the publisher of this card with only “Printed in Germany” visible to the right of the 5 pfennigs Germania postage stamp of the German Empire, carrying the "Deutsches Reich" inscription.

The reverse of the card is also very beautiful, albeit unintelligible...if anybody can decipher the handwriting feel free to leave a message below! 

Check out the Vintage Postcard Store for more Easter postcards

I've somehow managed to skip Postcard Friendship Friday for a few weeks so this time round I'm posting early to be on the safe side!

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Civitavecchia - Postal steamer leaving for Sardinia – 1920

Civitavecchia - Piroscafo postale in partenza per Sardegna
This Italian postal steamer setting out from the port of Civitavecchia just north of Rome was most probably heading for Golfo Aranci on the northeastern coast of Sardinia, which was the main port for arrivals from the mainland. These postal steamers, or piroscafi, seem to have been popular postcard images at the beginning of the last century and one finds them not only sent by passengers from the ships themselves, cancelled with postmarks with the name of the ship and the words “PIROSCAFO POSTALE ITALIANO”, but also posted from other destinations.

This particular postcard may not have been posted from a postal steamer, but it was certainly still processed by a Travelling Post Office (or TPO) on board a train. The Italian name for a TPO is ufficio ambulante (travelling office), hence the abbreviation of the word ambulante “AMB.” followed by the train route "ROMA PISA" and the route number 151, that appears on this postmark, as well as the date 27 September, 1920. Curiously, the stamp has been placed on the front of the card and the postmark appears on both sides, with the reverse carrying a third, mysterious date – 6 October, 1920 – presumably the date it eventually reached its French destination. I'd like to be able to say that the post is far speedier these days...but sadly, it may actually be even slower in 2011!

Reverse of postcard - click to enlarge
Whilst the detail is pretty good on this postcard, the matte surface would seem to indicated that this isn't a real photograph postcard, but was instead printed from a monochrome image and tinted a gorgeous deep blue-green, which looks particularly stunning against the deep red of the 10 cent stamp featuring Italy's last King Vittorio Emanuele III. Issued in October 1906 as one of the Leoni definitive issues, this stamp would be in circulation until the end of 1930.

There is no mention of the Italian publisher, other than the information in the stamp box that says that the card was printed in Italy and the small SIA logo in the lower left hand corner on the reverse of the card. The SIA or Società Italiana degli Autori – the Italian Society of Authors – was created in Milan in 1882 in order to protect the copyright of writers, musicians, playwrights and editors and to ensure that royalties were paid. It exists to this day as the SIAE (Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori).

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Oh! This cigar won't light! - 1907

It's hard to imagine a time when the incandescent light bulb was still new enough an invention for this comic Belgian vintage postcard to have made people chuckle. It depicts a classic vagabond figure complete with walking stick and his possessions tied in a handkerchief as he tries, in vain, to light his cigar, clearly still expecting there to be a naked flame! Oh! Ce cigare ne prend pas feu!

Whilst Thomas Edison may have invented the light bulb in 1879, it was actually the use of ductile tungsten as the filament material by the General Electric Company and William Coolidge from 1906 onwards that saw the birth of the light bulb we know it today, so once again, this is a vintage postcard that beautifully illustrates a little bit of history. Those incandescent bulbs, of course, have also now had their day and are currently being phased out across Europe and being replaced by energy-efficient fluorescent or halogen lamps to help tackle climate change.

This is a really lovely example of a chromolithographic print with wonderful details – look at the wood grained floor, the wallpaper, the spotted 'kerchief and the hint of stubble on the chap's chin. Sadly I have been unable to decipher the publisher’s logo – if anybody has come across this one before, please feel free to leave a comment below. The back of the card reserves a final gem – a spectacular flourish of a question mark in black ink filling the entire message side!

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Pierrot and Columbine – 1920s

Shrove Tuesday falls on March 8 this year, but in Italy the sweets and pastries that one traditionally eats during Carnevale have been on offer in bakeries all over Rome for some weeks now, the pavements are already sprinkled with confetti, whilst on Sunday afternoons small children decked out in fancy dress costumes can be seen out and about in town. Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or Pancake Day...Carnevale (or Carnival) has many names and is celebrated all over the world, but this vintage French postcard from the 1920s reminded instantly of the Italian celebration.

Published by prolific Paris printers Lèo of Pradot, this is yet another striking example of the hand-tinted real photograph vintage postcards that were so popular at the time – this one must surely win the prize for most garish colours, however! There's no colour enhancement with this scan – those pinks really are that bright on the original card!

This uncirculated postcard features the lovestruck Pierrot, a famous stock character from Italian pantomime, wearing his classic loose white gowns, frilly collar and black skullcap, wooing a 1920s version of Columbine, who in the traditional pantomimes or Commedia dell'Arte plays breaks his heart when she leaves him for another very famous character - Harlequin. In the late 17th-century an Italian troupe of players performing in Paris called the Comédie-Italienne made these Italian masked plays popular in France, so it seems particularly appropriate that this should be a Parisian postcard.

Whilst doing a little research for this post I was reminded of a favourite song from 1980 that illustrates the enduring popularity of the Pierrot motif – David Bowie appeared as the character in the video for Ashes to Ashes, although his Pierrot sports the conical dunce's cap. Watch that blast from the past below or click here to watch it on YouTube!

Check out the Vintage Postcard Store for more Pierrot postcards.

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, February 4, 2011

The Greyhound Station, Kalamazoo - 1951

Kalamazoo...What a wonderful name! So varied, in fact, are the theories behind this strange name that was given first to the river and then to the city, county and township, that Wikipedia has dedicated a whole page to the Etymology of Kalamazoo. What would seem certain, however, is that this evocative name was derived originally from the languages of indigenous peoples of what is now the US state of Michigan.

I just knew I had to have this vintage real photograph postcard of the old Greyhound Bus Station in Kalamazoo when I came across it on a market stall in Rome last weekend. The postcard was issued by the enormously prolific LL Cook Co., Milwaukee, so probably isn't particularly rare, but topographical postcards of US cities aren't that common here in Europe – in fact, this card wasn't even posted to Italy, but was instead sent to an address in Brussels, Belgium, on May 10, 1951.

I was even more excited when I discovered that it records a part of “lost” Kalamazoo – the old Greyhound Bus Station at 318, West Michigan Avenue, back in the days before it moved to the Amtrak depot. The neighbouring Paris Cleaners is another historic venue; opening its doors in Kalamazoo in 1903, the dry cleaning company moved to its current location on the corner of Crosstown Parkway and Westnedge Avenue back in 1956 – this photograph shows an even earlier site. Wanting to track down the very spot, I took a virtual stroll along West Michigan Avenue thanks to Google Maps Street View, until I stumbled upon the exact location! Looks like Jim Lum's Cafe was a place called the Copy Cup when the Google Maps camera passed by, although a quick search has revealed that it is now known as Pistachios, whilst the Grehound station itself is now a branch of the Bank of America.

View Larger Map

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

West Parade and Soldiers' Memorial, Rhyl - 1908

Whilst rummaging through piles of postcards in thrift stores or on market stalls some vintage postcards will catch my eye immediately; this Edwardian British seaside postcard of the West Parade and Soldiers' Memorial in Rhyl on the north coast of Wales caught my attention, because it is so rich in contemporary detail – the fashions of the day, the horse and carriage, the promenading women with parasols – but also, and most strikingly, because of the way the people in the foreground of this shot are staring directly at the photographer.

The schoolboy in his high collar and boater is dressed up in his Sunday best (or maybe his school uniform, as there seems to be a satchel at his feet) and looks stiff and uncomfortable in those clothes - he is positively scowling! I love the chap sitting on the bench – his long moustache and fashionable homburg hat are so evocative of that period. Apparently Edward VII himself wore a homburg and they became all the rage.

The war memorial in the background was first erected to commemorate the soldiers who had died during the second Boer War in South Africa (1899–1902). It was later moved to the Rhyl Garden of Remembrance where it is found today, although sadly, many more names of those lives lost in wars over the last century – both World War I and II and more recent military conflicts – have since been added to it.

The postcard was printed in England by E.S.London from a hand coloured black and white photograph and it has a glossy finish that simulates the look of a real photograph very well. First posted on the 7 September, 1908 it was sent to the wrong address, but forwarded on to the recipient the very next day, so therefore carries two separate postal cancellations.

For those of you NOT on a mobile device, here's the message to save you from having to turn your screens upside down!
Up here for the
weekend with
some friends.
It is very hot
and a beautiful
I've been to North Wales and I confess that it's never been very warm...but maybe 1908 was a very good year!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Sovereign Prince of Monaco's Palace - 1959

For many people of a certain age the Principality of Monaco will be forever associated in our minds with the American actress and star of three unforgettable Alfred Hitchcock movies To Catch a Thief, Dial M for Murder and Rear Window – the timeless beauty Grace Kelly. Hollywood was rocked to its foundations when she retired from films and married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco at the peak of her career in April 1956 and became Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, although the shorter title of Princess Grace was quickly adopted by fans and press alike.

When I found this vintage souvenir postcard of the main facade of the Palace of the Sovereign Prince of MonacoLe Palais de S.A.S. le Prince de Monaco – the first thing I did, therefore, was to double check the date; when I saw that it had been posted in 1959, I found myself smiling to think that this was more or less how Princess Grace would have found it when she first moved to Monte Carlo. Indeed, it was her husband Prince Rainier III, who is “credited with restoring the greatest part of the lost glory of the Palace to its present splendid state”. (See: The Prince’s Palace of Monaco)

The postcard itself is a scalloped edged tinted Bromocolor real photograph card printed from a black and white original image. The reverse of the postcard is also interesting from a philatelic point of view – the 20 franc stamp is cancelled with a fine postmark advertising the first edition of Scolatex, an interschool and international educational philatelic exhibition which ran from 16 - 20 May 1959 – and would later become a prestigious event organised by the Monaco National Commission for Unesco.

Monaco is, incidentally, the second smallest country in the world by geographical size - only the Vatican City, the walls of which I can see from where I'm sitting at my computer as I type - is smaller.
Find more vintage postcards over at Beth's postcard blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

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