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A Merry Christmas to Everybody!

A Merry Christmas to Everybody!

My favourite time of year, and here’s a fine map-related greetings card for you all:

It’s in postcard form, probably taken in a French studio early in the First World War (and although the props were probably lying around there for a while, note that the model’s 1907 pattern bayonet still has a curved quillon …) I think that’s a rose he’s holding, while sitting on a crate and looking thoughtful, rather than a handkerchief. It’s not clear, even in the original, but that makes more sense. Ordinarily on this kind of early twentieth century postcard (think Bamforth) the thought cloud above the subject’s head is devoted to sweethearts/wives/mothers, but this chap has the good sense to be thinking about maps at Christmas. Specifically maps of England and France, signifying how much he’d rather be in Blighty. And here’s a map in the shadows, sent from the Balkans c. 1917:


As it’s from the Survey Company, Royal Engineers, it would be missing something without a map, and a suggestion of one has been cleverly worked into the shadows in the foreground - Italy, Greece, the Balkan theatre of operations generally. The artist was the highly accomplished animal painter and cartoonist George Denholm Armour who happened to be on the spot: he commanded the army’s remount depot at Salonika, 1917-19. A superbly imaginative use of holly here:

Hughes and Company seems to have been primarily involved in metallurgy, especially magnesium and its alloys, which are strong and light (therefore of interest to the Air Ministry, for example). This 1940 British card is austerely printed in black and white, zincographed or printed from a metal plate of some kind; considerable trouble was taken over its production. I liked it so much that I copied it and turned it into bunting:

You can just make it out, strung across the window. The Dickensian carol singers were from Opera Holland Park, and they were here last Thursday evening. Everyone had a whale of a time, and money was raised for the Chelsea Pensioners. To be repeated next year, we hope.

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