Monday, August 24, 2009

Ramsey Macdonald and a Bottle of Beer

It's Monday morning and I haven't anything in particular to say and therefore I turn to my faithful old postcard collection for inspiration. It is not a particularly big collection but the two or three hundred postcards dating back to the early years of the twentieth century have the capacity to provide me with endless entertainment. Ah, the simple pleasures of an old man! The majority of the postcards were handed down within the family from my mothers' Uncle Fowler who, like many people in the first decade of the twentieth century, kept an album for the picture postcards sent to him by his friends and family. As they knew he collected postcards they would search out colourful or interesting cards and send them to him for his growing collection. The combination of image and short written message provide a unique view of a world in transition. It doesn't take too much effort to see the strong similarity between exchanging postcards and blogging : what do we call our daily efforts if not "posts"?
The two postcards for this morning do not come from Great Uncle Fowlers' collection but they are cards I have added to the collection over the years. The cards I have added tend to reflect my own interests such as politics and beer and the two examples this morning illustrate this.
The first card shows a group of 29 named gentlemen gathered for a formal picture outside a grand-looking building. Other than the names there are no clues or titles on the reverse of the card although someone, at some stage, has pencilled in "First Socialist Government" If that description were true it would be 1926 and the first minority Labour Government of Ramsey Macdonald. Whilst Ramsey Mac is clearly featured in the photograph it can't be 1926 as it also features the first Labour MP in Britain, Keir Hardie, who died in 1915. The clue as to the date and the event is in the number of people pictured - 29, the number of Labour MPs famously elected at the 1906 General Election. This was seen as the great political breakthrough for the Labour Representation Committee - which within months of this photograph had renamed itself the Labour Party. I am very fond of this postcard, there seems to be so much hope and so much expectation in the faces of those 29 political pioneers. Most, but not all, of the dreams were broken, but that, as they say, is another story.
The second card provides a lighter note. Although dating from the same period (either 1903 or 1904 at a guess) it features full colour printing. It was published by Miller and Lang (one of the largest firms of postcard publishers in Britain at the time) and forms part of their "National Series". My interest in old breweries tempted me to try and trace the origin of the bottles but I decided that would be too scholastic : there comes a time to just sit back and enjoy the image.

16 comments:

  1. Love the second one; India Pale Ale perhaps?

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  2. "Nothing to write" but yet again an interesting post. I love that you pinpointed the date on the first postcard - all of that hope and sense of a great new beginning...

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  3. Uncle Fowler would have never guessed people from all over the world would be enjoying his postcard collection.

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  4. Great detective work on that first postcard. As Kabbalah Rookie said, pretty interesting stuff for having nothing to write. I'm stumped this a.m. myself.

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  5. Interest in old postcards is universal! I work for an auctioneer occassionally and there is always a crowd gathered to bid on the boxes of old postcards. You've got some great ones here!

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  6. John, Kabbalah, Willow, John H & Betsy : Thanks for your comments. Its good to know that so many others share my enthusiasm for old postcards. Being bloggers, I had a thought that you might.

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  7. old postcards tell a story in their art, then you turn them over and relive the words...thanks for sharing your collection...

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  8. I Love Old Postcards Too!
    Re;The Labour 'First Team'I,m sure i read somewhere that Ramsay made them all buy new suits etc So that they looked like 'Proper Politician'(eg NO CLOTH CAPS!!!!)

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  9. This is random, but the phrasing of "politics and beer" had me laughing for quite a while.

    Sounds like a blog!

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  10. Makes the headline 'Mafeking Relieved' take on a new perspective.

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  11. Photos can tell such a story even when it was not necessarily the original intent. I can view photos of my older brothers and see such poverty and hard times of our whole area. The scene of relatives that I never knew standing out in their garden tells scads of comments of who they were, their social scale, and their relationship to each other. Keep those cards coming. Don't research the beer, the answer will jump out at you some time just because that is what happens.

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  12. Alan, I thought you said you had nothing to write about! You have a pretty good postcard collection.

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  13. Alan, I do enjoy these history lessons and the analogy of "posting", wot? Reminding myself to rummage through the other boxes at that flea market...

    And got a nice chuckle out of the second postal card, I did :) Ta much!

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  14. Again, thanks everyone.
    Tony : I believe you are right about Ramsey Mac. When Keir Hardie first entered the Commons he famously did so in his cloth cap but it appears that by 1906 Ramsey Mac had forced him into a frock coat.
    Jeffscape : Politics and beer - there are few finer ways of spending an evening other than having a good argument over politics with a few half-decent pints of beer.
    LD : I'll keep the cards coming, promise.

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  15. Anonymous10:00 PM

    It was extremely interesting for me to read the blog. Thank author for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

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  16. Anonymous5:08 AM

    By the way, use Bluetooth jammer to block all spy transmitters in your room or at work.

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