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


As we're all in different time zones, I wonder which particular moment the mystical happening was supposed to happen. :)

I love your series of postcards. I haven't come across them before.
Christine H. said…
Yes, this is a great series of postcards. I have a certain weakness for the 'soldier dreaming of home' cards.
Irene said…
Boy you hit a gold mine with these, they are wonderful.
Clytie said…
Wow, what wonderful cards - I too have a special place in my heart for "across the miles" cards from soldiers in times of war. These are some of the most emotional I've seen.
Anne said…
I have inherited an album full of these World War 1 postcards - the Song Series as well as others printed by Stewards & Woolf and the Valentine series. These cards date from 1901 - 1920. I would like to know what they are worth.
Anne Swart
Mossel Bay
South Africa
LiT Web Studio said…
Anne - the Bamforth cards are usually listed at a few GBP each...I'm not familiar with Stewards & Woolf
Unknown said…
My mum has an old album of these postcards - about 200 of them - which were rescued by her mother from the bin of her next door neighbour! They were thrown out by the neighbour's nephew when she died. I am fascinated by them.