[D]ead bodies can talk if you know how to listen to them, and they want to talk, and they want us to sit down beside them and hear their sad stories. […] They don’t want to be voiceless; they don’t want to be pushed aside, obliterated.
~ Margaret Atwood, Negotiating with the Dead
This is not a post about Margaret Atwood’s book about writing – although I would warmly recommend it to any and all, regardless of whether they dabble in creative writing or not – but (yet another) one about those often disregarded memories that come in the shape of postcards. Today was a – metaphorically and literally – sunny day, so I was lucky enough to find another batch of fascinating old postcards at the local market. And since I know of no better way of restoring them to life and giving them back into the world – here they are, on the web, for everyone to see and (hopefully) appreciate.
This one’s a postcard from the early 1900’s (the stamp on the back says ‘1904’). I’m not sure what attracted me to it, really. Probably the Romantic/romantic scene and the mysterious letter F. I have no idea what the F is meant to stand for. Just general name initial? I don’t know whether the sender bought and sent the F-card on purpose; there are no discernible clues about it in the short message on the back.
I might be wrong about the letter, though; it may as well be an E rather than an F. In that case, the sender’s name also starts with an E, so it would make more sense, I suppose.
This one’s in the same style as the one above, but the stamp on the back attributes it to a later date – 1922. It also depicts an idyllic scene, and it also features three characters – a woman and two children. This one seems to bear the letter J in the foreground. The message on the back is, in fact, a short rhyme:
peace be around thee wherever thou rovest
may life be for thee one summer’s day
and all that thou wishest and all that thou lovest
come smiling around thy sunny way
Signed: ‘J.B.S.’, standing for ‘Mr. J. Pritehard’, apparently. A quick Google search reveals the stanza to be from Thomas Moore’s poem “Peace Be Around Thee” (read it here, if you will). The lack of punctuation and capital letters suggests, I think, that whoever wrote this must have reproduced it from memory, i.e. he must have known at least this part of the poem by heart.
This postcard depicts Edwardian stage actress Madge Crichton. (Sorry, this is all I could find about her, but any more insight on who she was is very welcome.) I must say, she really was a stunner! Look at that hair, that face, that smile! (Fine, I’ll stop right there…)
The words “Greetings from” on the front are embossed.
The text on the back says:
With all possible good wishes to dear Madame
A postcard dated 1908, showing actress and performer Gabrielle Ray. The text on the back says:
Jan. 1st 1908
I wish you a happy New Year.
I hope this will suit your collection.
The addressee must have been an avid collector of celebrity/ artists postcards.
This postcard is absolutely brilliant in every way, so I simply had to buy it! Sadly, the text on the back is not entirely legible, but the bits that survived make me think that the two correspondents must have been into funny, witty postcards like this one.
A bit of printed text on the back says: See also “Chart of an Average Girl’s Head,” according to best male authorities. Sadly, that particular postcard wasn’t up for sale at the local market. But if I ever find it I sure of hell won’t think twice before buying it! 🙂
The postcard seems to be dated 1905, although I can’t be sure, the stamp on the back is too faded. It is interesting to note, however, that the period was quite aglow with budding feminist actions. According to our adored Wikipedia in 1905 “women are given the vote and admitted to the practice of law in Queensland”.
Now this one I just bought out of sheer amusement triggered by the feminised misspelling of “Paolo” into “Paola” (read the story of Dante’s Paolo and Francesca). The postcard reproduces George Frederic Watts’s painting of Paolo and Francesca. Of course it never credits him for a second, but then again, those were the times of freedom and political incorrectness. It was printed by C.W. Faulkner & Co., a pretty famous postcard producer in the early 1900’s. This particular postcard is undated and the back, as you can see, has been kept blank.
5 Replies to “Dead (?) Bodies”
The Atwood quote made me think of this. I hope the level of creepiness is adequate.
*thumbs up* Quite adequate, thank you. 🙂
Message 2 re Madge Crichton, Born: 31st Oct, 1881 – Scarborough, apparently
Madge was born Margaret Crichton Wakeford in Scarborough, Yorkshire in the last quarter of 1879. Her Father was Haldane Hodson Wakeford and he owned a theatre company that toured England & Scotland. For some reason they changed their name to Crichton. Madge had a brother, Jack, (born Gordon John Crichton Wakeford) who was a comedienne. I am very distantly related to them. What a fascinating pass time you have, I often get side tracked on these very distant branches of my family tree as they are so very interesting. Kind regards, Alaine, Perth, Australia
Thank you so much for sharing all this info! And you are related to them – how exciting! I’m really glad you stumbled upon my blog and kindly left a comment. Unfortunately, I haven’t posted about my finds and “collector’s adventures” in a long time, but perhaps this is a sign that I should do so again. 🙂
All the best,