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EMBROIDERED SILK POSTCARDS AND SWEETHEART PILLOWS
Novelty postcards crafted from card and silk first appeared around 1898, originating from France and Switzerland.
In 1903, Thomas Stevens and William Grant began an English manfacturing process.
The Great War created a popular demand for keepsake souvenirs of the conflict, and as well as "trench art", an affordable solution for participants came in the shape of embroidered postcards.
A large cottage industry developed, and from 1915 machines were employed to mass-produce images, crafted from coloured silk threads. The different effects produced in the embroidery depended upon the type of machine used (an early pantograph and a later larger punched-card machine are shown below).
(Photos courtesy of Dr Ian Collins - see his Book and Website Link below)
Identical designs were embroidered with coloured silk onto a starched strip/roll of silk/organdie, usually 25 times, although some rolls have been discovered with 400 such designs. Once embroidered, they were cut and mounted onto card backing. An embossed frame was secured over the top of each card, which was finally "trimmed" and finished.
It has been estimated that over ten million of the multi-themed beautiful cards were produced.
Cards snet by British Forces were rarely posted in the open mail, but sent home to "Blighty" via courier (once approved by an Official Censor, who initialled each card) to loved ones, in brown transparent envelopes, protecting the message in transit and complying with post office regulations that they did not
"inconvenience post office machinery".
There were no Postage Stamps on these cards as troops were entitled to free postage.
Thousands of designs were created in basic design groups:
Within these, cards may have had -
a panel design
a pocket design with a card inserted
a pocket design with silk hanky inserted
panel design with attachment such as a ribbon
panel design with photos of notable persons stuck on, amongst flags
example of a pocket design with a card inserted -
the message on the front of this card reads: "My Darling I'am always for you"
"MAY GOD BLESS YOU UNTIL I RETURN"
example of a pocket design with card inserted -
the message on the front of this card reads: "For you alone" and is written: "To Mother from Will"
"from the Front souvenir card - a morale boost for the recipient, no doubt !"
"HOME SWEET HOME" - Church with floral garlands - a notion of every serving soldier's dreams......
"SOUVENIR CARD" sent to "Miss Margaret Erfman" in Indiana, USA:
"From your Friend Louis Stohlman, Batt. C53 Art Amer E. F, France"
This "silk" has been sewn into a handkerchief holder for a Lady - "Souvenir from France"
"REMEMBER ME" Sweetheart Pillow
"THINK OF ME" Sweetheart Pillow
"WHEN THE GOLDEN SUN IS SINKING
AND YOUR MIND FROM CARE SET FREE
WHEN OF OTHERS YOU ARE THINKING
WILL YOU SOMETIMES THINK OF ME"
To: "Miss N. Pacey, 10 Park Street, Bletchley, England":
"Dear Norah, just a card from France in answer to your loving letter which I was so pleased to get and thank you very much, give my love to your Father & Mother & dear old Beat & I hope I shall see you all again some day, ever your loving uncle, C W Burt"
To: "Miss G. Firth, Wood Willows, Stocksbridge, Nr Sheffield, England" -
"With Best and fondest love to Gladys From Harry Somewhere in France xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx"
A "REGIMENTAL SERVICES" card - displaying the Royal Engineers emblem & initials "R.E.",
with an insert card with the message: "To Greet you"
A "BIRTHDAY CARD" with a message:
"Dear Charlie, wishing you many happy returns of the day From a Friend B. Fp"
FURTHER READING BOOKS:
(above) AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE EMBROIDERED SILK POSTCARD by Dr Ian Collins (ISBN 0-9540-235-0-1)
(above) THE CONCISE CATALOGUE OF EMBROIDERED SILK POSTCARDS by John Westland (ISBN 0-9518-362-1-8)
(above) HISTORY OF SILK POSTCARDS by C. Radley (1975)
(above) BRITISH POSTCARDS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR
by Peter Doyle (ISBN 978-0-74780-766-7)
(above) World War 1 in POSTCARDS by John Laffin (ISBN 0-86299-612-0)
(above) Sweetheart & Mother Pillows 1917 - 1945
by Patricia Cummings (ISBN 978-0-7643-3917-2)
(above) Till the Boys Come Home - The Picture Postcards Of The First World War by Toni and Valmai Holt (ISBN 0-354-04166-5)
(above) The First World War in old picture postcards
by Bob Currie (ISBN 90-288-4732-4)