Friday, February 26, 2010

A Festival Of Postcards - Light

Every couple of months, the very talented Canadian genealogist, postcard collector and blogger, Evelyn Yvonne Theriault, edits a theme-based Web Magazine entitled "A Festival of Postcards". The theme for the March edition of "Festival" is "Light" and the following is my contribution.


During the great postcard boom of the first decade of the twentieth century, all tastes and interests were catered for. The avid postcard collector could fill his or her album with pictures of cuddly pets or colourful panoramas, sacred hymns or sexy hers. Amongst a certain clientele, a sober combination of uplifting words and stylized etchings were always popular and several postcard manufacturers published cards which featured the words of popular hymns of the time. 

The words of the hymn "Lead, Kindly Light" were written by a young priest, John Henry Newman, in 1833. He later would tell the story that the words came to him as he was trying to return to England from Italy and the ship he was travelling in became becalmed in the Straits of Bonifacio. The words reflected the desire of the homesick traveller to be safety led home and, one assumes, to salvation. Newmans' hymn became one of the most popular of the Victorian age and therefore was a prime candidate for the religious postcards of the golden age.

Shortly after this postcard was published, the hymn - along with that other Victorian favourite "Nearer My God To Thee" - suffered from a bad press when it had the misfortune to be one of the last hymns sung by the passengers on the Titanic before it struck an iceberg and sank.

The above postcard was published by the Leicester firm, Henry Garner - Living Picture Post Card Co (HGL) and is No. 121 in the series. I am not sure, but at a guess I would say that it was printed in about 1905. It has not been postally used.

The Festival of Light edition of a Carnival of Postcards will be published in March. I will provide a link to it as soon as it is available, but in the meantime you can find out more about the project by visiting the Festival of Postcards blog.


  1. I was sorting through some things this week and stumbled on to a small collection of postcards from a family vacation in 1970. The little bag was labeled with my girlish writing, and the cards were poor quality photo pcs with that 60s pinkish tint. It was a fun trip down memory lane.

    I'll hop over and visit the Festival blog...

  2. Anonymous12:09 PM

    Worth checking out, yes! To think of all the postal cards I've given the brush-off to at all those jumble sales...!

  3. These are some lovely postcards in that website. Truly, the kind of artistry that can be found in those little rectangles of cardboard is amazing. Actually, if you have images you want to print postcards with, you can go to sites like for some lovely, customized postcards you can send your family and friends.

  4. Lovely post, Alan. Incidentally, (you may already be aware) that the Catholic Church is in the process of beatifying John Henry (Cardinal)Newman. Ultimately, he is to be canonized as a saint.

    I've seen Evelyn on the Sepia Saturday blog, but didn't realize you participated in this.


  5. What a fascinating story. And by the way, there's a gift for you today on my blog...

  6. sacred hymns or sexy hers....what a clever line there, Alan.

    Thanks for the link...I'll check it out!

  7. Is "Lead, Kindly Light" something to do with starined glass windows (leaded lights)?

    Your security work this morning was firti. I wish I was!

  8. Thanks Alan, I'll go see the Festival blog. Strange, it must be a week for sorting ... my discovery was postcard birthday cards. I've put three on my own blog.

  9. I am an avid postcard collector too. Thanks for sharing the link and the info about Carnival of Postcards.


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