Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas!

I don't think anyone will have much time for blogging for the next week. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lady taxi drivers

In 1906 Paris saw the first lady taxi drivers. There was a lot of interest in these brave women. They soon learnt to drive motorised taxis too. I was pleased to find an excellent history in English which explains their story in more detail. Does image number 8 look familiar? Picture number 30 is of special interest to me.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Our Première Dame

There aren’t many photographs of Madame Henriette Poincaré. She was the wife of the president of France, Raymond Poincaré, during the first world war. I was interested to see that she has Italian blood like our present First Lady. She always accompanied her husband whenever it was possible and worked hard during the war to send out parcels, not only to the soldiers, but to the families and children they had left behind as well as offer them support.

She and her husband loved to spend time in the gardens at the Elysée palace. In 1917 an Orang-utan escaped from a nearby circus, found its way into the gardens and tried to drag her up a tree. Of course this news was censored at the time. She must have been absolutely terrified.

Here you see her arriving in Limoges in 1913 accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture (her husband had already arrived).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sapeurs Pompiers de Paris

These are examples of the different uniforms Parisian fire-fighters would have worn around 1900. In France the fire service deal with all emergencies. Though I’m still wondering about the one with the gun…

As always click on the image to get a better view.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Continuing the story of Odette :

Odette was born in 1899. I’ve discovered that her father was in the army. He sent her a postcard of the officers mess with a cross marking the window of his room, she was eight years old at the time. Her grandmother’s Chateau is not for sale, as I thought, there are two chateaux with the same name. Her Grandmother who signed her cards 'Granny' was a Countess!

In 1906 Odette went to stay with friends and afterwards they sent her these two lovely postcards. I presume that her friends were called Denise and Marguerite

Saturday, October 24, 2009


"A travelling photographer is passing through the area. Jeannic is five years old, we must have a photograph of her… but she is terrified by the man and his machine! So daddy has to be at her side. Come on Jeannic watch the birdie…"

Friday, October 23, 2009

This is where I live

It hasn’t changed that much since 1900 when this card was sent. Unfortunately the boats have changed. There are more people who sail for leisure and fewer fishing boats.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


In June 1902 Barnham’s circus was passing through the town of Tours in France. One of the performers was an was an enormous 80 year old elephant weighting 7 tonnes called Fritz. Not surprisingly, one day he decided he’d had enough of being a circus elephant. One story goes that he refused to move, the other that he went beserk. The outcome was that he was killed. He was taken to be stuffed and came back to Tours nearly a year later and has been there ever since, here are some 5 and 6 year olds at a workshop at the museum in Tours.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another auction, another family

I’m sorry that I haven’t found time to post for a while. We attended an Auction last week. It’s the furthest we’ve travelled to an auction so far so we took the opportunity to stay in a romantic hotel and mix business with pleasure. We also bought some beautiful cards. One of the lots came from chateau so I’ve been piecing together bits of information about the family. They owned two chateaux in the middle of France , one of which is up for sale at the moment (that’s why the cards were being auctioned I suppose). Around 1900 a lot of the cards were written to a little girl called Odette. She seems to have passed from chateau to chateau to stay with her grandmother, perhaps while her parents were away. Judging by the wording on the cards she was much loved by everyone. Above is one of the cards she received in 1904.

Note: I was having problems uploading this image, in case it happens to you, you just need to click on the terms of service box.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A real donkey in Pyjamas

In June I wrote about Donkeys wearing Pyjamas on Ré Island. well here is the real thing!. In the background you can see windmills - they’ve all gone now.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Some new postcards

We’re very excited about some new postcards that we bought this week. They are mainly of La Rochelle and are in excellent condition. Recently a shop in town which dealt with postcards, stamps and coins closed down and I can’t help wondering if they come from there originally. For a little while I’ll be sharing a few views of the town. This first postcard is of a street in the quarter where I used to live. Nothing much has changed at all, except that the shop has gone. I’m fascinated by the goods on display, especially the little horse…

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Here is a modern postcard for a change. I love the colours; pinks and greys with just a touch of yellow. “Jeune Homme au Plateau” –young man with platter - was painted by Christopher Harmon Cheung in 1986. He is a Hyperrealism painter.

The correspondence on the back is interesting too. Written by the father of the gallery owner wishing someone good luck. A hopeful artist looking for somewhere to exhibit his paintings perhaps?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Abbé Miroy

This postcard made me feel overwhelmingly sad. Click on the image to get a better view of the bronze statue of the Abbé Charles-Eugène Miroy (sorry, it is in French but you can see a picture of him), who was shot by the Prussian army after the armistice had been signed, when he was 42 years old,. The sculptor was Charles René de Paul de Saint-Marceaux and this was one of his earlier works.

Abbé Miroy’s tomb is still regarded as a symbol of resistance and flowers are regularly laid there today.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sur le Pont d'Avignon

When the Saint Benezet bridge was built in in the 12th century there were 22 arches, but floods, conflicts and time have taken their toll and only four remain. These children were perhaps singing the famous song for the photographer when he took the picture for this postcard around 90 years ago. They all look very happy to demonstrate their dance.

My daughter Dom went to visit the Avignon bridge a couple of weeks ago. You have to pay to visit today.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Marié de L'Isle

I’ve mentioned the French photographer Henri Manuel a couple of times here. Today I came across this lovely portrait of the French mezzo soprano Célestine Galli-Marié known as Marié de l’Isle, it was taken by him. I haven’t managed to find out much about her at all. She was born in 1840, married a sculptor called Galli and died in 1905.

Tomorrow we’re off to an auction in another town. I wonder what treasures we’ll find.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Donkeys in pyjamas

A little bit of local culture. Across the way on the Ile de Ré, the donkeys have always worn pyjamas! Even today you can find them if you know where to look. This might seem to be a strange idea, but in the past the working donkeys were troubled by mosquitoes biting their legs. This card shows a donkey with his mistress and the caption reads: “Around here everyone wears the trousers… even the mistress.”

Saturday, June 13, 2009

An afternoon stroll

Today we’ll take a trip in our time capsule and stroll down Avenue de la Gare, stopping for a drink outside the Café de la Poste (on the left) on the way. Although the edges of the postcard are faded, details like the moustache on the man on the right can easily be seen with a strong magnifying glass. The card was sent in 1927.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Traditional costume

Here is a young lady in Breton costume taken at the turn of the 20th century. You can see more detail if you click on the image. The daffodils on the skirt caught my eye, was her skirt black or dark green? As well as the lace on her ‘coiffe’(bonnet), the edge of her shawl is interesting. This card makes me think of peace and tranquillity.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Who's that girl?

A little before October 1909 a photographer set out to take a picture of the ‘Grand Hôtel du Parc’. Some passers by were caught on camera including a pretty young lady. She was pretty enough to turn the head of a young man and make him smile( seen with a powerful magnifying glass).

What happened next?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Emile Loubet

Emile Loubet was president of France from 1899 to 1906. It wasn’t until I scanned this postcard, sent in 1905, that I realised that the lines were in fact writing which tell us something of his life. Click on the images to get a better view..

Monday, May 04, 2009

Happy days

These postcards were sold in 1939, just before the war. They were sold for 1 franc each in aid of the National Committee for Summer Camps in France. From what I can find out there were guest illustrators every year who produced a set of cards. These were painted by Georges Redon. He seems to have illustrated quite a few postcards and various posters etc., but there doesn’t seem to be anything written about his life.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

First of May

Today is the day on which people offer each other little bunches of Lily-of-the-Valley in order to bring good luck. If you’ve ever been in France on the May 1st you may well have seen it being sold on the streets to passers by. I was offered my Lily-of-the-Valley by the lady who owns the bar restaurant in the village when we called in for a cup of coffee this morning.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The silk merchant

I love the colours of this postcard. When I first saw it I wondered how I could describe it. I don’t read Armenian. I imagine this is a merchant selling silks to a well to do lady. The card is dated 1900. There are a few marks on it and the bottom left hand corner is slightly bent. If I live to be 109 years old I hope that I stay in as good condition as this card!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Two Lovers

1. I’ll lay the world at your feet. 2. Your every wish is my command. 3. You must believe in my ‘star’

4. Close to you I am but mere man. 5. As my son resembles you…

One of the nicest parts of what I do is finding treasures like this little set of postcards. The lovers were photographed by Henri Manuel, a famous French photographer. Sent in the spring of 1911, I was disappointed to find that they weren’t love letters at all, but family correspondence.
click on the images to get a better view

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

1st April!

It’s come around quickly, hasn’t it? I do hope they didn’t use real fish when they took the photographs. The way she’s holding this one so carefully it could be real. These are cards from past years.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The bride

I was really hoping to find out a little about the lace on this costume. It was traditional where I live and the young lady wearing it so proudly is to be married. I don’t know whether she and her female relatives would have made the lace or bought it for the occasion.

Click on the image to get a better view of the lace.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dear Daddy

Thursday 22nd March
Dear Papa,

I am being good but I never pull the chain when I go to the toilet. I’m making a….. for baby. I do three rows at the front and back. I’m still enjoying myself and thank you for the pictures.

A big kiss,


I received your letter – no I didn’t win, yes she’s well, no I don’t let Sabine use the racquet, yes I say them every evening, yes she is good , yes she has some hair.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I think that I’ve probably said this before. Looking at the postcards that pass through my hands I’m always pleased to see the children. All posing for the man with the camera. It must have been a special occasion for them which they probably remembered for the rest of their lives. We take so much for granted. Imagine how they would have laughed if we told them photographs would one day taken with a telephone!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

We acquired a new album from an (real) auction. I’m already piecing together the story of the family that owned it. I’ve concluded that the couple were married not long after the First World War. Madame X could have been a widow with a daughter called Alice as Alice has a different family name. Perhaps Alice’s father was killed during WW1?

The master of the house worked for an insurance company and was later promoted to a post in Paris as head of department. Most of their postcard sending friends had the annoying habit of sending the postcards in envelopes and not marking the year if they dated the cards at all. The family however, carefully collected their postcards and put them into an album so that they are still in very good condition.

The bridge you see on this postcard was built by the Romans and is still there today

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Water Mill

Who could resist dreaming of this magical place? Your dream could become reality because today the water mill is open as restaurant. Hillary Clinton has dined there, but don’t be put off, the prices are very reasonable.

It was a real pleasure to find the website of the restaurant with even more beautiful views. There is more, it’s not too far from Monet’s garden!

As always, click on the image for a better view.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

BlogExplosion: very Important!!

"There are some invitations you can't refuse"

A letter has been composed for everyone to send out to the company that owns Blogexplosion on 20th February, you can copy the letter from here.

If you prefer, go here for more instructions and access to a rich text format of the letter. I think anyone outside the US would probably like to send their letters a little earlier. The addresses are supplied. Just pick who you would like to address your letter to.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t compose your own letter if you want to. Please be polite. A lot of effort has gone into this project by people who care about the blogging community. If you belong to BlogExplosion, please help.

And yes, you will be seeing this post on all of my blogs

Thanks to; thewatchlist, MJTaylor Spicybugz, bokonon, kelson, SelinaKimsey, sightlydrunk, bluegrassBloggo, McSpazz, lando411 and others I have surely missed for keeping the forums looking like forums. A special thanks to thewatchlist and MJTaylor who have put in all of the work for the letter.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Procrastination is not new

Here is a postcard which was written on Christmas day in 1899. However, it was not posted until the next century on January 5th

Friday, January 30, 2009

Welcome home Worldman

This little boat is boldly setting off across Lac Léman towards Montreaux. If you look closely you might just be able to make out our globetrotting friend, Peter, on his way home from Sudan to his wife and family. I hope that you’ve had a good trip home, Peter and that you can have a well deserved break and get on with your retirement!

Perhaps you might even run into Bill Gates, Barbara Hendricks or Shania Twain?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Poor Dodo

I wanted to share this postcard of a Dodo with you. Weren’t they sweet? If they were alive today would they be;

1. served up for Christmas dinner
2. in a zoo
3. sold as pets?

If you read the Wikipedia entry, there doesn’t appear to be a stuffed Dodo that they know of. Well, you saw it here first! The postcard received a bid very quickly after being put up for sale on eBay.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


There is only word that I can think of to describe this postcard; « charming ». The colours are subtle and the girls are naturally pretty. I imagine that they were really pleased to be allowed to wear those lovely hats.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A postcard in Braille

This postcard is very topical at the moment. Louis Braille was born on January 4th 1909. He developed the system by which millions read today at the age of 13!!

I managed to translate the Braille into French “Un cordial souvenir de mes petite souris blanches” - A friendly souvenir of my little white mice. A child’s hand has written searched and found, so I assume that the game was to translate the message.

The front of the postcard shows the King of Belgium presenting the 7th Infantry Regiment with the Legion of Honour during the First World War. Click on the image to get a better view

Friday, January 02, 2009


Happy new year everyone

I thought I’d start the year with a closer look at the costumes on this postcard from Vals-les-Bains famous for it’s water cures since the 17th century. In the past only the well to do would frequent places such as these. Today Doctors can prescribe a ‘cure’ if they think that their patients would benefit. Patients are sent to Vals-les-Bains for problems relating to nutrition, obesity and diabetes. Ordinary Visitors and tourists also benefit from the usual Jacuzzi, massage, well-being and beauty treatments associated with such places.

I couldn’t believe how clear the details on this postcard are! The people you can see would almost certainly not have posed for the photographer. Unfortunately the lady on the stairs is victim of a crease through the middle of the postcard.

Click on the images for a better view