Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The sinking of the Hilda

The night of the 18th November 1905 was a night of snow and storms.  Conditions were so bad that the men on the Grand Jardin lighthouse didn't see or hear that the steamer, Hilda was in distress close by.  They didn't even hear when her engines exploded.

125 men died in the icy waters, they were aged between 12 and 45. There were 6 survivors.  One crewman; Mr Grinter (Greender?) and 5 Johnny Onions.  Young men from Brittany who had crossed to England in July to sell their onions door-to-door and were now returning home.  Their names were Paul-Marie Pen(n), Tanguy Laot, Olivier Caroff, Louis Rozec and Louis Mouster.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Blessing of the Pigs

I thought that this was a fitting follow up to a post about a dog in a Nativity scene.  The title is 'The Blessing of the Pigs (after)'.  'After' is in case you wondered why the priest was heading in the other direction. On Corsica apparently, different villages bless different animals.  Zilia is the village where the pigs are blessed.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Cognac 110 years ago

Four postcards sent in October 1901.  Kept carefully in an album and are still together, in good condition today.

Monday, November 21, 2011

This is what I like to find

A really old postcard in very good condition with a lot of detail.  The card dates before 1903 as it has a non divided back.  It's in very good condition except for the photo-corner marks at the top.  I wonder who did that!

The shop sold bonnets, lingerie, sewing accesories and perfume.  Having a look around online, I discovered that this house, which was built in the 14th century, has always been popular with photographers and I've managed to find out the name of the street it is in.  The house is still there today!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Les Compagnons

These are soldiers from the First World War who were carpenters by trade. They belonged to the Compagnons. The Compagnons still exist today. Taking on apprentices and passing on the skills which are now disappearing. If a monument is being restored you can usually find members of the compagnons working there somewhere.

I think that we forget that men were needed not only to fight, but to cook, mend, build, translate, heal and provide spiritual guidance….. Each had his own role.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Waiting in hope

If you love me openly, send me the green ribbon
If I don’t stir your heart, send me the red ribbon
If you sometimes dare, send me the pink ribbon
If you love me already, send me the blue ribbon
If you want to marry me, send me the white ribbon
If you want to admire me from afar, send me the mauve ribbon
If there is no hope for me, send me the black ribbon
But, if I win your heart, send me the yellow ribbon

I haven’t made any attempt to rhyme like the poem, but that is what the colours mean. The card was never sent, perhaps they didn't dare.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Appy God Son

After a very interesting auction in Limoges last week, it’s time to start looking at what we bought:

The first American troops arrived in France in June 1917. They were very much appreciated as this postcard illustrated by Xavier sager (1881-1969) shows. “The New Godson” has been well and truly adopted.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If a picture could speak

This one would be able to tell us some stories I am sure. “Le banc des Vieux Loups de Mer” - The Bench of the Old Sea Dogs . Old Breton fishermen meeting up in the sunshine.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Wedding Lace

If you’ve read this blog for a while I think you’ll know that I like lace costume postcards. This is a local traditional wedding outfit. As always with most of the older photographs the details are really in focus and clear.

I imagine that mothers, grandmothers, aunts and big sisters probably started making lace for the future ‘big day’ as soon as a baby girl was born.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Alhambra Theater

We recently sold a postcard which we knew to be quite rare. Imagine our surprise one morning not long afterwards when it turned up in the local newspaper.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


I seem to be finding really interesting postcards to share everyday now. This one, from Chinon in the centre of France, was posted in September 1900. Perhaps the postcard was published before the 20th century! It’s in very good condition, considering the age of the card. In France, the back of the card was for the address only up until the autumn of 1903, so any correspondence would be on the front of the card, hence the blank space. The card is addressed to Mademoiselle Poisson – Miss Fish!

Chinon is still very much like this today and is very popular with American tourists. Here is a photograph of part of the same street.

When we were in Chinon for an auction a couple of years ago we ate at this restaurant, though we couldn’t afford to stay in the hotel. (Click on ‘photos’ to see views of Chinon and the hotel)

A little bit of history

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Five pretty ladies

I know that they were probably quite uncomfortable and involved the wearing of corsets, but aren’t they beautiful? And then there are the hats…

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lucky Black Cat

This unused postcard is in incredibly good condition considering it is almost 100 years old. The cat was meant to bring good luck for the ‘Poilus’ (The *hairy ones), the French soldiers. This is strange because in France a black cat is considered unlucky. I can only think that the card was produced more for the allied troops. Hence the flags in the background.

*‘Hairy’ as in real men have hair on their chests.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sunday best

The boys are from Brittany and I bet they weren’t so well dressed every day. You might be able to see that some of them are wearing medals. Perhaps the medals their fathers won during the great war?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Village Life

I couldn’t find a modern day picture online of the centre of this village. The photograph would have been taken before WW1. It was posted in 1915. As the postcard was sent from the Champagne Ardennes region at that epoch. More than likely by a soldier sending a postcard home to his family.

The church today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Here comes the bus !

On the 21st March 1907 the first bus from La Rochelle went on a demonstration tour. Can you imagine the excitement in the villages where cars were rare sights, let alone a bus?

Today, La Rochelle has a splendid fleet of buses, running on environmentally friendly diesel, two ferries across the port, park and drive, bicycles and taxis.

From small acorns do mighty oaks grow…

Monday, June 13, 2011

When is an elephant not an elephant ?

When it’s a chimera.

This one is perched on the top of Notre Dame church in Paris . In architecture a Chimera is a fantastic, mythical or grotesque figure used for decoration. I think that he looks a lot friendlier than a gargoyle.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Joyeuses Pâques

Two little girls pouring out flowers to wish everyone a Happy Easter.

“Amis fleurissez-vous
En souvenir de nous!”

Friends decorate yourselves with flowers
As a souvenir of us !

Monday, April 11, 2011

Edna Aug

I haven’t been able to find out much about Edna Aug. I think that she was probably an American actress who came to Paris. The photograph here was taken by Reutlinger in Paris around 1900, so she must have been well thought of. If anyone has more details please let me know.

Sunday, April 03, 2011


This is a postcard of one of several sphinx that guard the Château de Bagatelle in Paris. The model for the face of the sphinx was an opera singer Rose Duthé. This particular sphinx is situated at the back of the Château

Monday, March 21, 2011

A chromolithograph

Chromolithography was a process by which multicoloured images were produced in the 19th century.

This is a little card which had been printed to celebrate a first communion in June 1895. Even today in France cards are printed and presented as souvenirs, but the best part is the sugared almonds…

Sunday, March 20, 2011

If it's food it's got to be French.

France has always been proud of its culinary heritage. Here are four little collector’s cards illustrating the departments and what edibles they are famous for; wine, pâté,cheese, fish, soup, vegetables and fruit, sugar and beer.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Do you remember this?

I was born 8 years after the Kon Tiki Expedition, but during my school days we were captivated by the story of Thor Hayerdahl and his crew on their voyage across the pacific ocean.

This is what is known as a semi-modern postcard. Often in black and white and sometimes in colour, they are gaining in popularity as people remember how things used to be when they were young through the postcards.

At this very moment there is a modern expedition, An-Tiki,  led by an 84 year old to raise money for Water Aid. They set off on January 30th and are crossing the Atlantic ocean. There is an An-Tiki blog and website.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Victor Hugo

This little house above a pharmacy in Besançon was the birthplace in 1802 of one of the greatest French writers and poets, Victor Hugo. He died in Paris in 1885. The photograph for this postcard was taken around 100 years after his birth

Monday, January 31, 2011


How else can I describe this beautiful little card? It’s not really a postcard but an advertisement for a shirt maker. The characters are in relief and the dress, coat and roses on the fan are silk.

I’m not sure how old it is, but it is in very good condition. Be sure to click on the image for a better view.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Paris 1900 and a strange coincidence

This postcard was sent in the spring of 1900, 10th April. Look how busy the bridge is.

The correspondence is written in English with difficulty:

”My dear Henry
Oh well! And this operation! You not art death no? You wilt tell at Mama that we are very well to arrive evening Sunday. I am very glad because my teacher have tell at my that he is glad at my and that I make of progress. Of course is relative. ??? carter I shall have two reward of billets. That you ask before Saturday, you wish the good morning of Lady Delabarre. So clasp all the people of my him
Your Brot”

The card is addressed to Henri Arondel who lived in Versailles. There is a painter of the same name who died on that date but in Saint-Malo in the North of France. Coincidence!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lucky Pig postcards

These were very popular postcards in Europe and America. This one includes a horse shoe and lots of money, Other cards had the pig grazing on four leaf clovers! I hope that this one brings you luck too.

Some more lucky pigs and information on them

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Singer

Here is a singer from Algeria taken at the beginning of the 20th century. She’s holding a Derbouka – a kind of drum. I enlarged part of the image so that you can see how clear the details are, even the transparency of part of her skirt. If you click on the images you can see them better.

Friday, January 07, 2011


La Rochelle also had a submarine base. Built during world war II, Part of Raiders of the lost ark was filmed there in 1981. The port of ‘La Pallice’ as it is known was originally built in 1890. As you can see from this postcard, submarines were around the port even during WWI.