I don’t steal memories. I buy them 30p apiece.

My long-standing hobby of rescuing/collecting other people’s memories has resurfaced again. It would have resurfaced before, only, to my shame, I was unable to find the usual place in our local market selling vintage photos&postcards. It’s like the magic little shop that Terry Pratchett pokes so much fun at in his Discworld novels: it would seem to disappear for considerable stretches of time and then it hops back onto the map, just as dusty and forbidding as it ever was. So, then. Found it again. This time, I only purchased two photos and one postcard. I don’t precisely know what was so special in them that made me buy them. To be honest, the photo/postcard batch this time seemed quite mediocre. Nevertheless, I couldn’t leave empty-handed. It’s simply impossible for me to leave without having bought at least one. So here they are (and once more apologies for my inexpert rephotographing):

Number one. Front of photograph:

Black and white with white borders. On it is written a name, in blue ink: Nellie Lovatt (I think, I’m not all that sure about the surname). I guess the priceless expression on the mother’s face while she’s holding her newborn baby compelled me to buy the photo. I just felt it would be unfair to let a “first memory” of this kind get lost or be destroyed. I also like the details, so appropriate for a casual family photo: the pacifier, only half visible in the mother’s hand, the bottle on a shelf in the background (medicine? beverage? poison?) and the framed painting on the wall, so tantalising because it’s there, and yet you can’t make out what it shows (some sort of landscape, maybe?).

Back of photograph:

It is a photo postacrd, as it’s printed on postcard back, “divided” type. On the “correspondence” half it says, in black pencil:
Dear K & E (?)
Snapped this in the front bedroom the first time that Nell was dressed, with the camera I bought off you. Not bad is it? Hope that both of you are OK. Your ma is a bit anxious @ not receiving a letter from you for some time
Your S. Y. Percy
(?) & Nell

On the “address” half it says, in black ink, perhaps as a memento: Born 9th Sept. 1924

The fact that all three texts – the baby’s name, on the front of the photo postcard, the message and the birth date – are written in different colours, with different objects (pen, pencil) suggests that they have also been written at different times. Also, while the name on the front and message on the back seem to have been written in the same hand, the birth date is written in far more elegant handwriting, by somebody else. There’s no address and no stamp, so either it was never sent by post, or it was enclosed in an envelope, with a longer letter, maybe. Clearly it has passed through several hands; it makes me sad that whoever had this failed to keep it. But then again, I’m happy it’s mine now. 🙂

Number two.

Black and white with white borders. Photo postcard, unused/unsent. The only thing written on the back is 50p in black pencil, so it was probably sold and bought and sold before. I don’t have much to say about it, except that the photographer’s name and “address” are embossed on the lower right-hand corner of the photo: Joe Harman and REDDITCH underneath. I almost didn’t see them at first, they’re only visible if you hold the photo in a certain way in the light. I looked them up on-line, but I couldn’t find anything. I assume the photo’s been taken more or less in the same period as the other one, though I may be wrong, of course. As far as I’m concerned, I just loved the look on the baby’s face, and how it waits so patiently (almost aware of what’s happening) on the small sofa.

Number three. Front of postcard:

It shows a lady dressed in white, sitting on a bench in an idyllic park/garden and holding a book. Not too special in itself, though I have to admit I have a thing for vintage postcards showing girls with books. 😛 More interesting, though, is what’s on the back.

Back of postcard:

It was stamped and posted. There’s a green half penny postage stamp showing King George V. This has also been stamped with the place, time and date of dispatch (I believe it’s dispatch and not receipt): Birmingham, 11:30 PM, April 10, 1913. In the “address” half, the receiver is revealed to be a Miss E Smith living at 14 Cradock Rd Saltley. Google Maps shows Saltley to be in Birmingham. It also shows that Cradock Road still exists. In fact, you can even see how 14 Cradock Rd, Saltley, Birmingham looks like today, on Street View (marked by the red bubble):

Finding this makes me consider going there and trying to track down the original owner of this postcard. It’s probably much too much trouble. But it would be interesting, wouldn’t it? Especially since the message is quite intriguing. It goes like this:

Which, as far as I was able to decipher the handwriting, would be:
Dear Eliza,
Just a line hoping you are in the Pink/Bink/???
You would laugh if you could see me. Dont forget to ask ‘Tom’s intention’s for me as I am shy myself. see you on Saturday.
Yours Sincerely,
Fred xxxx

I don’t know what anyone else thinks about this, but by the way it’s written (hurriedly, I’d say) some exciting and secret affair must have been afoot. I wonder how it all ended. I sure hope ‘Tom’ proved to be a nice guy…

Well, then, this is it for now. Expect more eclectic stuff soon. 😉

One Reply to “I don’t steal memories. I buy them 30p apiece.”

  1. “Joe Harman took your photo in his shed”…… a line in the song by Colin Wheeler from Redditch …..
    I, too, was looking up info on this Photographer as I was born n bred in Redditch,and still here 65 years later collecting CDVs and postcards.
    I have several of his postcards and agree with you as it is so easy to overlook his name on them.
    Sadly, Colin is no longer with us and too can’t find any info on this photographer

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