Thursday, December 04, 2008

A very old postcard and a joke

I couldn’t resist putting this one up for you to see. It was posted in November 1898. You can just see that even 110 years ago children enjoyed digging holes in the sand! Royan is still a popular seaside town, rebuilt after the second world war and today there is concern that the ‘new’ concrete cathedral is crumbling.

What is written on the front? A joke :

« Pourquoi le Rossignol ne chante-t’il plus lorsqu’il est en cage?
C’est qu’il a perdu la clé des champs (des chants) »

“Why doesn’t the nightingale sing when he’s inside a cage?
Because he has lost the key of the fields (songs)". Doesn’t really work in English, does it?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Anyone for ice?

I think it’s important to show the glaciers of France before they all disappear. These tourists were visiting the ice grotto of ‘ice for drinks’(?) around 1908. Perhaps people needed carrying out more than in.

Unfortunately, the glacier is shrinking by 70 meters a year, but a grotto is still opened up for visitors today

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Who is this man?

A family group taken on the beach at Biarritz in April 1914. Who is the man? His face seems familiar to me. Any ideas?

Click on the image to see a better view.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Something a little different

In order to clear our stock a little we’ve started to sell lots of 50 postcards at a time. The cards aren’t extra special but could be a good idea for a beginner. Up until yesterday I was making up lots of town, villages and views throughout France. They’ve been selling pretty well so our attention then turned to the Fantasy cards that we have. These are more greetings postcards, especially New Year. A lot of them are pretty young ladies so are also interesting from the fashion point of view too. I scan all of the postcards and try to arrange them as artistically as possible. I was really pleased with the set you can see above, flowers, which is why I put it here.

Rob was checking other lots of fantasy cards on eBay France and one seller had a picture up of 5 cards only which they were using to illustrate 3 different lots. They had put up a notice warning that the postcards in the photo were not necessarily in the lot in question. When we saw that we felt quite smug about ours.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


"United against the Barbers" and "Sainted Alliance". These two cards were sent during the first world war. I’m guessing, but I think that the soldiers are supposed to represent the US, Belgium and the UK. The young lady, ‘Marianne’ represents the French republic.

Recently I read on the backs of two postcards sent during the first World War…

March 1915
Cher Papa,
….. Everything is starting to grow here which reminds me, you mustn’t try to do everything yourself. Try to wait for my return. All of this will be finishing soon and I’ll be home to help…

…Cousin X came to visit me in my trench, it was good to see him. Between us we managed to account for all of the cousins, everyone is alive and well…

On all of the postcards sent by soldiers the first thing written was 'I'm in good health'. With all of their problems and discomfort their first concern was always to reassure their families.

I’ve also written about the Menin Gate on another blog.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Loulou was a seal who became lost and ended up entertaining visitors at a café on the West coast of France. Today there is a restaurant “Loulou Phoque” named after the seal. I’ve been reading the reviews of the restaurant, expensive, but worth every penny!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The sacred stone

Somewhere in Brittany is a sacred stone said to come to the aid of sterile women. The instructions on the postcard say all you need to do is sit on the stone and hope - just like this lady.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Keep them on a string

Now we know where the idea of 'stringing him along' or 'keeping him on a string' comes from. Click on the postcard for a better view.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

School's out

This postcard remained in my memory ever since I first saw it. We’d put it to one side with lots of other cards to look at again at a later date. The later date has come and it’s now for sale.

This is a photograph of what was left of Boulevard des Ecoles (school boulevard) in the town of Lens in the North of France. I imagine the boy in the picture is standing on what is left of his school. Lens was first bombarded in October 1914 and the town was occupied until 1918. The population of 18,000 was reduced by half. How did those people manage? Where did they go?

The town also suffered a lot of damage during world war II

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A little bird told me

One of the seagulls on this postcard is arriving in Geneva to tell everyone that Peter will soon be arriving home in Switzerland to begin his very busy retirement.

This postcard was posted in Geneva in 1902 and is in excellent condition. I have seen the same card in black and white. I prefer the colouring on this one.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The arrival of the Americans

While I was preparing this card for auction this morning I was taken on an interesting journey through the history of U.S. WW1 uniforms. I wanted to check up on two of the hats, I wondered it they were Canadian, but no, they were worn by American soldiers. I discovered that the winter uniforms were made of wool. Very good for the winter but when it was wet they became very heavy and uncomfortable.

The Americans arrived in June 1917 and this photo was taken on July 4th at Les Invalides in Paris, which is the army museum where you can also see the tomb of Napoléon Bonaparte. Of all the people passing by do you think that anyone might possibly recognise one of these soldiers? I hope they all arrived back home safely.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Language of stamps

Did you know that you have to be careful when you place a stamp on an envelope? This postcard was produced for a philatelic exhibition in Paris in 1941. The stamps were all real, stuck on especially for the postcard.

Here is a translation for the next time you send a love letter through the post:

Straight: You don’t love me
Upside-down: I don’t dare.
To the left: Ardent love
To the right: The beginnings of love
Horizontal right: Tenderly yours
Horizontal left: Passionately yours

Click on the postcards for a better view.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Old man of the sea

I love studies of character and this is one. While I was trying to discover where he came from I came across this. It’s the same man, can you see the stairs in the background? I still don’t know much about the postcard, but I’ve found a lovely new site to visit (it is worth taking the time to scroll down). It is in French but the drawings speak all languages.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Time for a rest

I'd like to take a little pause from my busy life. it would be nice to take a stroll through here. Are you coming with me?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The (very) old house

This house was built in the 13th century, 700 years later a postcard was made of it and just over a hundred years after that the house appears on my blog! I couldn’t find any trace of the house today, although the tourist office looks as if it perhaps could have been….

It reminds me of a mushroom somehow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A little history

It’s the little treasures that pop up unexpectedly which make postcards so enjoyable. This is a card from Sillé-le-Guillaume and was sent in 1911. It’s not an image that I would have normally chosen to put here. Recently I’ve been discovering a little more about coloured postcards which has made me more interested in the history of postcards. At the bottom of this postcard is the name of the publisher, nothing unusual except for the claim that the company produced the first illustrated French postcard in 1870.

The Château today

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Hermit and his dog

In 1878 Brother François came to Mont-Cindre in the Rhone department. For the next 30 years or so he devoted all of his time to the restoration of the Hermitage. He cleared, built and gardened as well as collecting rocks locally to create rockeries, chapels and grottos for the statues. He died in front of his chapel in the autumn of 1910.

Looking back through the archives I see that he would have been busy creating at the same time as the Abbé Fouré!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Number 1000

This is a very special postcard. As well as being pretty to look at it was the 1000th card in our shop at eBay!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The story of a little girl and her teddy bear

I was preparing this card for eBay the other day when something about the little girl’s knitted dress reminded me of perhaps another postcard...

I went through my ‘children’s section’ and was pleased to see that my memory had served me well. Two more cards from the same set!

I think that she was told to wait before she picked teddy up.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don't move!

I’m always intrigued when I see children on the old postcards. I’m sure that the three on the steps would have been pleased to obey the instructions given by the photographer. They would have been so excited to see a man arrive with his camera and to be part of a postcard.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Restful place

As usual I was reading the backs of my postcards when I came across this one which struck me as interesting. The house is lovely too. Here is the story behind it:

In 1914 a soldier was injured on the front and was fortunate enough to be sent here to convalesce. The owners arranged for him to be picked up from the station somewhere in Brittany and taken to the house. He indicated his room with a little cross – ground floor on the right. The owner and his wife are the couple standing on the left side of the picture. (Click on the image for a better view)

The young man also wrote that he was looking forward to meeting up with his friends on the front again….

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Somme

The 1st July was the 92nd anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme which lasted for several months. Albert was a town which suffered a lot of damage. I came across this folding postcard by coincidence and thought it appropriate. The Basilica was bombarded on the 17th January 1915, several months before the battle. This must have appeared to be a miracle – a sign of better times to come when the people of Albert saw this:

If you click on the image you will see that the Virgin and Child remained intact

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The black cat

We went to another auction last week and bought some new stock which we are really pleased with. I’m already starting to pick up the story of another family who moved around France because the man of the house was a bank manager.

I was charmed by this handmade card. I imagine that the little girl was staying with her grandparents when she received this card from her favourite Uncle! The stamp is real, but he’s painted a false postmark over it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

So that’s how it was done!

In 1900 this is how childless parents acquired their offspring. Babies cost 20 marks!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


An hundred years ago children were enjoying the same things as they do today. When were you last on a swing?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

There goes the train!

You will have to click on this card so that you can see the train going over the viaduct. I’ve also scanned the back so that you can see the beautiful handwriting. This postcard was sent in 1903 or before. Any messages had to be written on the front of the card up until that year.

Also, what a simple address for a large city, the name of the street and ‘Paris’; I don’t think it would be delivered today. I googled the address, 45 Rue Alexandre Dumas, and discovered that Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers) used to live at 45 Rue du Mont Blanc!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hot sand between my toes

This postcard appealed to me because of the energy the girls are putting into their digging. It reminded me of days at the seaside with my sisters. Look how warmly wrapped up the women are who were watching. The card says ‘Les enfants au travail’ – Children at work. Judging by the stamp, the postcard was sent in the early 1920’s.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our shop!

Anyone who reads any of my four blogs on Blogspot for the next day or so will see this identical post. After humming and ha-ing for several months Rob and I have decided to open an eBay Shop for our postcards. A lot of people have asked why we haven’t done it before. The simple reason is that we sell small price items and a shop isn’t always viable in that case. As there have been recent changes to charging on ebay accounts for professionals in France we thought we’d give it a go.

If you have a moment could you please have a look and tell me what you think of the colour scheme etc. I know it’s in French, that’s our main market, although we do sell all over the world. Please leave a comment if you have anything to say or a question on any of the cards.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Something a little different

This card breaks with the usual tradition as there is no image. The reason for this is when the card was sent postcards did not have pictures on*. It was posted in March 1880 to someone in Leipzig from Bern. In those days post was stamped at arrival too. The writing is hard to read, at first I thought that it was written in German but I’m not sure. The card is in excellent condition for it’s age.

*I’ve discovered that the first images were 1870, but they weren’t common.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Jardin du Luxembourg

Before we came to live in France, Rob and I spent an Easter weekend in Paris. We saw lots of sights, the weather was warm and sunny and there weren’t too many tourists. We sat out and ate at the Franklin D Roosevelt restaurant neat to the metro station of the same name (if I remember rightly) it was really as romantic as everyone says. My favourite place was le Jardin du Luxembourg; a famous Parisian park. This is what it was like in 1907.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


What a lovely job, harvesting the jasmin. The micro-climate around Grasse on the Côte d’Azur is ideal for growing flowers and you can visit the various perfumeries in the area today. These ladies were gathering the harvest around 1909.

This is my 100th card!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Belle Epoche

This pré 1903 postcard from Monte Carlo (where else?) really captures the spirit of the belle epoch. Should our gambling friend choose the red or the black? Even the artist Albert Guillaume’s signature is a work of art, I think. Click on the card for a better view.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

La Tartine – The Slice – Die Brottschnitte

I was really pleased to see this postcard of a painting by Alfred Schlomka. Click on the image to make it bigger and look at the expression on the little girl’s face. His paintings seem to have been exhibited for several years around 1910 by the Société des Artistes Francais. This one was included on the ‘salon’ of 1914.

The last time I wrote about a postcard with a painting by A Schlomka I had a mini Schlomka family reunion in my comments box!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The unhappy princess

This is King Léopold II of Belgium with his daughter Clémentine. Before she came of age she suffered a lot because of her mother’s difficult temper. Her father gave her permission to travel without her mother which helped a lot.

The problem with being a princess is that you aren’t allowed to marry who you would like. Clémentine wanted to marry Napoléon Victor Bonaparte, who was descended from Napoléon and therefore not of royal blood. Her father threatened to disinherit her. She was already in her 30s and could feel her biological clock ticking away. Prince Napoléon and Clémentine decided to wait until her father died. She didn’t have to wait for much longer after this photograph was taken. Her father died in 1909 and when her cousin, Albert, became King, gave her permission to marry and she really did live happily ever after!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Les Reines de la Mode

I spent a long time trying to find out who this young lady was. Perhaps a Can Can dancer around 1907 at the Moulin Rouge? Anyway, she was beautiful enough to be photographed by Henri Manuel. Here is another of his postcards and a brief biography

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Les Arceaux

As soon as I saw this postcard I thought of Salvador Dali. The twisted trees and the arches stretching into the distance I suppose. I don’t have a date for this card. Here are some more views of Montpellier. Can you spot ‘les Arceaux’?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Poisson d'avril

Two cards today to celebrate the first of April. Hope you didn’t get caught out by an April fool’s trick. It isn’t clear why fish are special on this day but jokes are played – only till noon. There are lots of postcards with lovingly held fish to be offered to loved ones. Fortunately they weren’t scratch and sniff!

“Pretty April fish
Bring her these flowers
So that their subtle perfume
Celebrates her heart”

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

This young man would be nearly a hundred years old today - I wonder if he's still alive? The card was sent in April 1917

Friday, March 21, 2008


A corner of the middle ages. This is another little village I’d like to visit some time. The card was sent in 1925. I haven’t been able to find a recent picture of this street, I hope that it is still there.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Princesse Alice

A few days ago we received a lot of 1000 cards from an auction house. They were really special and we’re rather pleased with them. If you read the post about the auction catalogue (a different auction to come), you will know that some of the pictures are of Prince Albert 1st of Monaco. The card above was also taken on his yacht "Princesse Alice". I think it’s a very interesting coincidence.

Here you see the launching of a weather kite for the exploration of the atmosphere. I’m not really sure but I think that the man standing on the left reaching up to the kite is the Prince.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The sparrow charmer

This man was charming the birds out of the sky in the Tuileries, a Paris park, as early as 1868. I don’t know the date of this card, sometime at the beginning of the 20th century. Later in his life he started to go blind. When I wanted to find out more about him I discovered that he was a popular figure and captured the imagination and admiration of many passers by.

He reminded me of the lady who owned the house I rented when I first left home. She was well into her 80s and always busy. One afternoon I went into the garden we shared to hang out some washing and she was on her hands and knees trying to weed the vegetable patch. She was having a difficult time because she was surrounded by birds, sparrows; thrushes, blackbirds, they all got in her way as they tried to pick up the insects and grubs she disturbed by working. She had to keep brushing them away, but they just kept coming back. She too was a very special person.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Something different

For once I’m breaking my rules and not showing you a postcard. We received a catalogue
last week for an auction too far away for us to attend. This is the back cover. Two of the lots consist of photographs from the archives of the photographer and journalist Mr. Chusseau-Flaviens, he specialised in royalty.

First is The grand Duchess Irina Alexandrovna, then The Tzarevitch and The Grand Duchess Marie Nicolainna. Then there are two pictures of The Prince of Monaco; Prince Albert 1st, one in his laboratory on his yacht “Princess Alice and the other with his famous collection at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco. The German Emperor Guillaume III is at the keel of his yacht. The last is the most interesting; An operation is being performed by the professor Jonesco. The patient , anaesthetized, has his stomach open and is looking at the photographer while smoking a cigarette. (To calm his nerves perhaps?)

(My spellings are taken from the French, I’m afraid, as usual click on the image to see in more detail)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More tea?

Another place for us to go for tea. The gardens of Restaurant Fouqueux in a town called Saint-Avertin. My eye was immediately drawn to the ladies dress. Didn’t a friend of Madame Monet have one like it? – Perhaps not….

You really do need to click on this card to appreciate it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Helping one another

It’s strange how things tie in together.

I noticed this card from the First World War yesterday and what touched me about it was that two women are helping a German soldier who has probably collapsed. On examining the card with a magnifying glass the soldiers don’t look to be in a good state and aren’t marching very well. They were probably exhausted and even shocked by the mess that the town of Amiens was in because of them.

During the evening, I watched the film ‘The Pianist” on TV which is the story of the Polish pianist; Wladyslaw Szpilman . How he escaped from being sent to the death camps and hid from the Germans during the Second World War. The card and the film both demonstrate for me the compassion of people willing to help one another despite being on ‘different sides’.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tea anyone?

This would be a pleasant place to take tea on a hot summer’s afternoon. Bagnoles-de-l’Orne is in Normandy and the terrace belongs to the Grand Hôtel. I couldn’t find any up to date pictures which indicate whether the tree is still there. This is the closest I can get…

Click on the image to see more detail