It is St Valentine's Day and on Sepia Saturday we are having a topical theme this week. And if you are in search of slushy, over-the-top, saccharine-sweet sentimentality, where better to find it than in that first decade of the twentieth century that was the apogee of kitsch.
In a time when postage was quick and cheap, telephones were rare, and people for the first time were beginning to move away from their home town and villages, picture postcards met an important need. Despite what myopic correspondents to the Daily Telegraph might think, prior to the age of text messages and Facebook, there did not exist a golden age when people would put fountain pen to paper and write long, intimate, copperplate letters. They scribbled quick notes on the back of postcards: notes that had dubious grammar, inventive spelling, and were peppered with cult abbreviations.
This card - which comes from the collection of my Great Uncle, Fowler Beanland - is probably not a Valentine card. But when messages bounced back and forth on a daily basis, people didn't feel the need to save their love and kisses for a designated day.
And what a promise the message holds out! When the card was sent, Fowler was 34 years old and working in Longtown in Cumbria as a spindle maker. But whatever was to follow it did not include marriage and children and all the usual things. Fowler remained a confirmed bachelor, dying at the age of 87 back in his home town of Keighley. Happy Valentine's Day, Fowler.
For more sepia Valentine posts, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.
We went out for our Valentine's meal last night. Natural northern prudence - more space and lower cost.ReplyDelete
Love and kisses and MORE TO FOLLOW??? Tsk Tsk - so bold, Mr. Beanland! And you passed on that?ReplyDelete
The postcard photos are amazing. And the parallel of that era's mode of quick communication with this generation's social media is brilliant. Great photo choice and post.ReplyDelete
One can't help but wonder if your uncle was a confirmed bachelor by his own commitment, or because he never found his True Love? I hope he had a happy life anyway, whatever the reason.ReplyDelete
In addition to the sweet sentimental romantic postcards, there were also many humorous ones.ReplyDelete
Terse and succinct, it is affection expressed in minimalism terms. No florid verses or sentimental rhymes for Fowler, just an assurance of continued devotion perhaps. He would have liked text messages.ReplyDelete
Everyone should read this post. It puts the cards where they belong, in history ! (You can read that last sentence with or without the comma :-) ) But you make some good points - a historical version of text messages.ReplyDelete
Good for Fowler -- 87? I'll bet it was HIS decision not to marry...ReplyDelete
Lovely card with photo collage...the message on reverse was perhaps on purpose, but things didn't work out the way he hoped.ReplyDelete
You always come up with some of the coolest finds to share.ReplyDelete
A happy Valentines sent your way.
Fowler Beanland? That sounds a book writing to be written, there must be a good story of his life that could be shared!ReplyDelete
Alan, as always I like your writing style --- but the back of the card left me grasping for more --- to follow. How cryptic.ReplyDelete
Aw...the double meaning era.....ReplyDelete
You’re right of course about the idea that everyone spent hours writing beautiful long letters. The PC would have suited me too I think, but whereas one can delete a text, the postcards do tend to pile up!ReplyDelete
He clearly didn't enjoy whatever followed....ReplyDelete
What? Nobody wanted to be Mrs. Fowler Beanland I guess. I really hadn't thought about how postcards were the Facebook of the times - the quick message sent frequently. I'm going to the antiques places next week to pay more attention to the cards. Thanks for the insight.ReplyDelete
Poor Fowler Beanland! Perhaps the sender changed her mind and decided there was not more to follow, after all.ReplyDelete