Adventures in Deltiology

Do people still send postcards these days…?

Happy New Year 1911…

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Dear B.
Thanks very much for lovely tidings[?]. I’m very pleased indeed with them what sort of Xmas have you spent, we’ve had a lovely time here. I’m off to-day from dinner till eleven to-night. E & I are going to see Phyllis Dare at the theatre. Did you get the card Ewart[?] sent you fancy he thought you were still at Potts & sent it there. Hope you have a fine day to-morrow, wish I was coming with you. Shall tell you all news when I write again. as I am in a hurry now
Love from Sally

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Published by Wildt & Kray (W&K), London

Sent to: Miss B. Cowx, Alameda, Workington, Cumberland
Postmark: Manchester S.W., 4.15pm, 31 December 1910

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A gorgeous New Year greeting postcard sent from Manchester to Workington on New Year’s Eve 117 years ago. These generic cards were incredibly popular around the time and featured all sorts of random images, some more peculiar than others. This is published by the London firm of Wildt & Kray and bears their lozenge logo on the back panel. They were operational between 1903 and 1915 and published cards in all areas but were especially prolific at this sort of generic subject. Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted the coquettish angle of the stamp which is more-than-likely a display of deliberate skewiffery – the Edwardians had fun with their “language of stamps”, each position holding a different hidden meaning. I believe this one conveys “a kiss”.

The sender, Sally, was preparing to spend New Year’s Eve at the theatre in the company of the great Phyllis Dare. Dare was a huge star of the Edwardian musical and music hall era appearing in theatres across the UK and also in Europe in a variety of parts, beginning with pantomime in 1899 when she was just nine years old. Her partnership with producer George Edwardes was probably her most fruitful professional relationship and it was at this time that she would’ve been appearing in one of his many productions – possibly Leslie Stuart’s Peggy, or The Quaker Girl – both of which were hits in 1911. She could, of course, be performing in a special New Year’s Eve show and I’d be interested to hear from anyone who could maybe confirm which Manchester theatre and which show Sally and Ewart would’ve seen.

Phyllis Dare went on to appear in innumerable straight plays and even made a handful of films. She retired in 1951 and died in 1975. As an addendum, Phyllis (and her sister Zena) are no strangers to most postcard collectors; they were huge stars and featured on hundreds of postcards of their own especially at the height of the Edwardian postcard boom. Below is one example showing Phyllis in the title role of Cinderella.

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