Dear Gert…

aristophoto co postcard - AL 1105

I snapped this postcard up as soon as I saw it, loving the bohemian styling and (in particular) the hat. Close inspection shows that it is one the A.L. series of postcards from Aristophoto Co. (scroll down for details) who were in business from 1902 to 1910.

aristophoto co postcard - back

Posted in Hackney, London, to Miss Daniels, “Southwell”, Quernmore Rd, Bromley, Kent, the upside-down message reads:

“Dear Gert – received letter & PC safely with many thanks – So you are leaving after all, what are you going to do when you leave – Suppose you won’t be coming up to London – Write again soon & tell me how you are getting on – hope you are feeling better now, Cheer up – Good bye with love – yours CP (or CQ/CD?)”

aristophoto co postcard 1909 - message

I haven’t identified Miss Daniels, but think she may have been a servant at the above address. Her friend sounds concerned, so I hope Gertrude sent news of her whereabouts without too much of a delay.

Neither have I been able to identify the woman in the photograph. The postcard  has the serial number 1105/2, but no name. Who is she? Answers on a postcard, please!


A Girls’ Night Out?

postcard usa a small

This intriguing postcard begs a few questions. Who are these women? Do the costumes hint at a theatrical production, or perhaps a fancy dress party? And is that a toy balloon, seen between the two women sat on the floor?

Here is a close up view:

postcard usa a balloon

It appears to have an eye, so perhaps there is a face drawn on it.

Published by the U.S.A. Studios, the stamp box design on the postcard dates it to 1907-1911. Mass production of toy balloons did not start until the 1930s, although hand-made rubber balloons were available before then and extremely attractive (and sometimes dangerous!) to young children.

Edwardian newspapers reported the dangers of toy balloons, including a young boy who followed his balloon out of an upstairs window and somehow lived to tell the tale. Another young child swallowed a balloon, which then inflated each time a breath was taken (it was quickly extracted and the child survived). And the following report tells of a boy who swallowed the wooden whistle attached to his balloon, and thereafter whistled when he breathed. Thankfully the whistle was later ejected during a coughing fit:

Belper News - Friday 05 June 1908Belper News – Friday 05 June 1908

But our balloon doesn’t look like a rubber one. It has texture. Perhaps the following newspaper extract, which describes how to make a balloon from strong tissue paper, provides a clue:

Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser - Friday 06 March 1903 copySevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser – Friday 06 March 1903

Of course, none of this tells us who the women are or what they were doing, but they have provided a journey of discovery and the enjoyment of their wonderful photograph.

And I thank them very much for that!

Newspaper clippings from The British Newspaper Archive  © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


daisy a small

A beautiful old photograph of Daisy, who has written on the reverse Your Loving & Affectionate Sweetheart. She wears a wedding ring so presumably sent the postcard to her husband. In brackets she has included her nick-name, possibly Mamie or Marnie? And someone else has added the surname Spencer, but since there are too many Daisy Spencers’ to decide between I have not yet been able to identify her.

Published by the Curzon Studios (Stratford, Manor Park and Kilburn).

daisy b small


Victorian Cyclist

cyclist a small

At a guess, this postcard dates to the late 1890s. The man on the bicycle obviously means business and is possibly even training for an upcoming race or two. Yet the background, which looks like a back yard, seems somehow at odds with the pose to me.

Notice the shoes. They are similar in style to the ‘Shorland’ cycling shoes in the following advertisement:

Norwich Mercury - Wednesday 23 May 1900 Norwich Mercury – Wednesday 23 May 1900

I love how the cycling suits were described as ‘sanitary’, to ‘safeguard cyclists from the effects of damp and cold’. And that there were cycling stockings specifically available for thin legs!

It would be great to identify the cyclist on this postcard but the back of the card lends no particular clues. If anyone out there can help, please let me know.


Newspaper clipping from The British Newspaper Archive  © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

‘Love From M’

miss gilbert a small

I wish we sent more postcards these days. They are such a tangible connection to the past. This one was sent to Miss Gilbert, on the occasion of her birthday, and is simply signed ‘Love from M’.

‘M’ is posing in the garden, perhaps using the chair to keep her still, and it looks to be winter judging by the bare trees and the hat and gloves.

miss gilbert a crop

The postcard is addressed to Miss Gilbert, Bradney, In Bridgwater, Somerset, and is dated April 14th 1907. A search of the records on Ancestry leads me to Jessie Ellen Gilbert born 15th April 1885, so this card would have been sent for her 22nd birthday. In 1901, Jessie was living in Bradney with her parents William and Ellen.

But who is ‘M’? She lived in the same area (the card is postmarked Bridgwater) but there are no other clues. Perhaps someone will come across this blog post and recognise her from old family photos. Fingers crossed!

A Link to Bangor

Bangor - photo

Photographs like this make me wonder who was behind the camera? Did the location mean something? Was the older lady the driver? So many questions! One thing I do know is the building in the distance is Bangor University (see image 10), and there are other links to Bangor in the Welsh Album, including the postcard below:

Bangor - postcard

Both of these photographs are copies, not originals, meaning that someone thought enough of the town of Bangor, North Wales, to want them and keep them. Perhaps they brought back memories. I will keep digging.