071: A postcard of a “Nobody” – Charles Pooter?

Printed in England.- Reg. No. 47451-2

Postcards are valuable tools for the social historian but when they have not been mailed we have neither place nor time: and this card “A Study in Black and White. Both Satisfied” is enigmatic. English, printed before 1919 (the postage rate changed to one penny in 1918 and this card asks for a 1/2 d stamp), it has a divided back – right side for the address and left for any message. That Post Office rule was September 1902. What does it mean?

The classic Diary of a Nobody by the Grossmith brothers was set in London in 1891 – the book has never been out of print since.  The diary’s entry for 20 December details Charles Pooter’s accident  in a shop which led him to purchase some Christmas cards. “I did not examine them all, and when I got home I discovered a vulgar card with a picture of a fat nurse with two babies, one black and the other white, and the words: ‘We wish Pa a Merry Christmas.’ I tore up the card and threw it away.” Black-and-white babies as an image on sale in England was at least twelve years old when this postcard was printed. Perhaps Charles Pooter would have disliked this card: perhaps he could have explained why people bought such images, and even what they meant.

In March 2014 when seeking other images I found another postcard. It has a stamp showing King George V who ruled from 1910 but the hand written message has nothing to do with the illustration. The card was produced by Woolstone Brothers of London, founded in 1902. It is card 507 of their Jester series.

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