Friday, February 27, 2009

Some Concert

The great thing about old postcards is that they can take you on such voyages of discovery. And the very best don't take you to Sunny Blackpool or Clacton-on-Sea, but take you back in time. Take, for example, this postcard which was printed by "The Printeries, Gorton Lane, Manchester" almost 100 years ago. Doing an Internet search for the card brings up just two references. One is an on-going eBay auction where the postcard is currently listed at $42 and the other is as an item held by the Museum of London. In both cases the card is undated and listed as a "Suffragette Card". The Museum of London catalogue describes it as follows "This satirical postcard was produced as propaganda for the pro-women's suffrage campaign. The programme for this fictional event at the House of Common ridicules MPs, including Lloyd George and the Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, for their lack of support for women's suffrage". However, I am not sure that this is the case.
Dating the card is not too difficult - my best guess would be that it was published in 1912. The card makes several references to the "New Copyright Act" and this will have been the 1911 Copyright Act which came into force in July 1912. It also says that entry to the fictional concert will be "by Insurance Card" which will be a reference to the 1911 National Insurance Act which, again, came into force in July 1912. Other events can also be dated to around this time - the Siege of Sidney Street took place in 1911 and the Marconi Scandal (where Lloyd George and Sir Rufus Isaacs were accused on insider trading in Marconi shares)  came to light in mid 1912. 
Whilst the date of the card is fairly easy to calculate, it is less clear why it is listed as a pro-suffragette item. Whilst the suffragette movement is mentioned a couple of times this is not surprising : the activities of the  National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies reached a peak in 1911 and 1912. The claim that Home Secretary Reginald McKenna would sing "I Am The Softest Of The Family" and Prime Minister H H Asqith would sing "Wait and See" is more likely to be an attack on their lack of resolve in tackling what some saw as the threat posed by the Suffragettes and their campaign. It is far more likely that the card constitutes an attack on women's suffrage and also an attack on other "radical" ideas of the time such as National Insurance and Irish Home Rule.
Regardless of the politics involved, it would have been some concert.

3 comments:

  1. I note we are "London" (whilst you are Huddersfield.) Why on earth London?!

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  2. I have no idea. In some cases it tracks very precisely - Joensuu in Finland for example - whilst in other cases it is very general. Probably everyone south of the Trent is London.

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  3. An after-thought this : does anyone know why Mr Bonar Law would sing "Anchored"? I have tried to find a connection via Google but can't. Is there any expert in early twentieth century history looking in?

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