Christmas Card

Some Vintage Christmas Postcards

It is that silly time of year again, so I thought I’d do my bit to spread a little Christmas cheer courtesy of some vintage postcards from my collection.  I’ve uploaded these images at a higher resolution than usual on the off-chance that anyone wants to use them for E-Cards, or print them out to make a customized gift label.  It is interesting to see what images and messages people sent with their festive wishes back before it was a holiday dominated by a jolly man in red.

Lemuel Lyes Collection

Lemuel Lyes Collection

In case there weren’t enough kittens already on the internet I thought I’d start with this adorable image.  I love how it wishes “Good Luck for Christmas”, which seems appropriate considering the level of mayhem that the season can bring.

The kitten adorned postcard was sent across Auckland on 22nd December 1926.  Well wishers had to plan months ahead to send Christmas cards and gifts overseas (some wartime examples I’ve seen were sent as early as September to make sure they arrived in New Zealand by Christmas), but for those wanting to send something across town they enjoyed a postal service that in some instances offered more regular deliveries than it does today.

I’m usually more of a dog person than a cat person – so as cute as those kittens in the boot are I feel I should counter it with a Christmas puppy.

Lemuel Lyes Collection

Lemuel Lyes Collection

Sadly this postcard has no message on the back and was never sent.  I imagine it may have remained hidden and unused in a Great Aunt’s stationary box for several generations before finding itself in the hands of a postcard collector.  It was published by London based Aristophot Co. who operated from 1902 – 1910.

This card of a young woman posing with flowers was published by another London based company, Rotary Photographic Co. Ltd, who operated from the start of the twentieth century through until halfway through the First World War.

Lemuel Lyes Collection

Lemuel Lyes Collection

“My Dear Jessie,

Accept my sincerest wishes both for Christmas and the New Year.  I hope you and all are in the best of health.  Please convey my love to your mum.  Am looking forward to seeing you all soon.  Roy is coming home at the end of Jan.  Well Jessie, “Cheerio” kind regards to Fred.  Love from Em xxxxx”

This message was sent to someone at a London address, at Leroy Street off Old Kent Road of Monopoly fame.  Although Monopoly as we know it didn’t exist then.

The distance between the sender and recipient was a common theme in early twentieth century postcards and more often than not the best way of visualizing it was a ship crossing an ocean.

Lemuel Lyes Collection

Lemuel Lyes Collection

The ship on this postcard is the SS Omrah and it is pictured with the rock of Gibraltar in the background.  She worked as a passenger liner voyaging between the U.K. and Australia until being converted into a troop ship during the First World War.  Below is a rather amusing photograph of officers exercising in their pyjamas on-board the Omrah while on their way to Egypt.

Officers exercising on a transport ship. Negatives taken by Rev Ernest Northcroft Merrington, all relating to World War 1, chiefly Gallipoli. Ref: 1/2-077943-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22634165

Officers exercising on a transport ship. Negatives taken by Rev Ernest Northcroft Merrington, all relating to World War 1, chiefly Gallipoli. Ref: 1/2-077943-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22634165

These officers arrived safely (and presumably in peak physical condition) but the Omrah was sunk by a U-Boat during another voyage in the Mediterranean in 1918.

Last but not least I’ve got a glitter-enhanced postcard from rural New Zealand.

Lemuel Lyes Collection

Lemuel Lyes Collection

Manakau isn’t a misspelling of Manukau, it is a small town in the lower North Island.  The back includes a short Christmas message from someone called Fred.

Lemuel Lyes Collection

Lemuel Lyes Collection

It is addressed to a H. C. Raymond courtesy of Major Tatum at Manakau.  Kete Horowhenua has a fantastic article about Major Tatum and his property.  He sounds like he was quite a character and played a prominent role in the community.  Kete also has a photo of the Major standing next to someone called Fred – perhaps he was the one who sent the glitter covered card?

Horowhenua Historical Society Inc

Horowhenua Historical Society Inc

L Mr Darcy Ryder son of Fred, Major Tatum, R Mr Fred Ryder (leased Bevan land next door to Tatum). Major Tatum identified by Mr Brinsley Ryder, son of Fred because he said if that is a string and not a watch chain it is Major Tatum because he was forever blowing a whistle and everyone had to come running.”

I’ll share some more festive themed vintage treasures from my collection over the next three weeks, but in the meantime – ‘Good Luck’ for Christmas.  Good luck indeed….

© Lemuel Lyes

3 replies »

    • Yes! It is nice to have a holiday that has changed relatively little compared to some of our other commemorations. Some of the iconography seems much more firmly entrenched now than it was a century ago – jolly red men, elves, decorated trees, mistletoe etc. were all around back then in one way or another too, but not in the iconic way they are today. (I suspect commercialism might be partly to blame here also!). Certainly the sentiment appears to have changed little though and many of the cards used a century ago would be equally as appropriate to use today.

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