Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sepia Saturday 156 : Humbugs and Herd Immunity

It's getting near the Festive Season and it is all Christmas Trees, Reindeer, and Kiss Me Quick Under The Mistletoe : and our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a somewhat acrobatic kiss. Now call me an old misery if you will, but such activities have always seemed to me to be best suited to spreading herd immunity from a host of infectious diseases; but perhaps such a view comes from being married to a Medical Microbiologist for nearly 40 years.

My submission this week is a postcard which dates back to 1906 and which was published by the Cynicus Publishing Company of Tayport, Fife. As you can see we have a similarly acrobatic embrace along with a line from the Victorian song "In The Gloaming". Written by Annie Fortescue Harrison and Meta Caroline Orred, the song is a typical bit of Victorian melodrama about doing the right thing and setting a lover free.

"Think not bitterly of me
Though I passed away in silence
Left you lonely, set you free
For my heart was tossed with longing
What had been could never be
It was best to leave you thus, dear,
Best for you, and best for me."

It is supposed to be semi-autobiographical because Annie (a lowly daughter of a Conservative MP!) fell in love with the 4th Marquis of Downshire, but gave him up because she was from a lower class and status and wrote music instead. Some time later the Marquis heard the song at a concert and realised it was about himself and sought her out and proposed to her and they were married in 1877. It seems to me to be a little too much like the stuff a celebrity publicist would come out with and, if like me, you can't stand a happy ending, you will be better concentrating on the artist who drew and published the postcard.

"Cynicus" was the name used by the Victorian artist Martin Anderson who gained fame during the picture postcard craze of the first decade of the twentieth century. Unlike many other postcard artists who produced their drawings for established publishers, Anderson set up his own publishing company - The Cynicus Publishing Company - and for a brief time achieved both fame and fortune. Alas, the success was as short lived as the postcard craze and by 1911 the business faced financial ruin. Poor Anderson lived for the next two decades in poverty and was eventually laid to rest in an unmarked paupers' grave.

Now that's the kind of story we want for Christmas. Bah Humbug to the lot of you!

After reading this you can cheer yourself up by reading posts from all the optimists over at the Sepia Saturday Blog.


  1. Fun post, Alan. Like you, i don't like happy endings. I find them rather unbelievable and a trifle dull ( unless, of course, they are my own ),

    Call me cynicAL, but I don't think the artist was very good either; is that supposed to be her hat on the ground? It looks rather more like the bloomers she has cast off.

    I take it back, I think CYNICUS was quite clever!

  2. Looking at the drawing the first thing I thought of is a judo contest.
    Apart from that I think it is significant that the people responsible for keeping Sepia Saturday in the air, both don't like happy endings. One way or another this sad way of looking at life must influence your weekly choice. So I'll keep an eye on you and wish you the merriest of Christmases, if the world doesn't perish on December 21.

  3. From one old cynic to another, I quite like the idea of her bloomers.

  4. A perfect antidote to the Christmas slush, Alan. I noticed that the message reads, "What would you give to be there." Well, it looks as though the young man in the illustration is giving mouth to mouth resuscitation.

  5. Annie Fortescue Harrison was definitely the precursor of Taylor Swift!

  6. I've always been suspicious of those who say it is for the best. What the heck does that mean anyway? Just that something else was better.

  7. So you like a "riches to rag" kind of story.
    I seem to remember receiving post cards at home and one friend always sends a post card when she travels. So the question is was post card sending really big in the early 1900's?


  8. Well that is a bit of Christmas Cheer..:)

  9. Way to put a damper on things, Alan!

  10. Well, I like happy endings so I hope they really did have one (marriage being only a beginning).

  11. I like happy endings too. Hope the marriage lasted long and happily. The first photo is quite odd.

  12. It is good to see someone who appreciates the real meaning of "Seasonal Greetings". A time when we slaughter our beasts, rather than let them starve, and feast on their produce. A time to increase our calorific intake, to take on weight to last us through the time of scarcity and want as we struggle through the winter and into the lean period of spring.

    As the days shortened and the dark time lengthened it was a time for story-telling, and for using up the fruits of summer and autumn now fermentated and intoxicating. This must have been the time when the Gods, the Heroes and Sagas were made, there can be no other explanation.

    Seaonal Greetings to you and your own and happy story-telling

  13. Reminds me of me and my ex making out in a Volkswagen when we were teenagers...what an uncomfortable kiss!!!

  14. Yeah, it does sound like something a publicist would come with...
    An enjoyable post, another one that fails to mention the on-looker in your prompt picture... A trip to the optometrist might be wise in 2013.

  15. Cynicus sounds like a name better suited for a blogger than an artist. Perhaps he misjudged the fashion for sentimentality in the public. Romance may be a cyclical fad, but even a dark romantic is still a romantic, Alan. :-)

  16. but...but...what is that thing on the right that looks like a gray daisy with legs about to run away? I'm thinking this gray thing caused the eventual downfall of the artist.

  17. My first reaction was "what a fun postcard, but what was that on the grround? - It does look like her bloomers. And why was ~"it best to leave her". Mm..... I wonder after such a scenario!


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