John Smith Fellow Fine!
Since I wrote my last blog post I've been plagued by the tune of a nursery rhyme which I couldn't get out of my head.
I was writing about The Smiths in my own family and thinking about Smiths more generally and got stuck on John Smith: not only my own great great grandfather but also the "he who shall not work shall not eat" John Smith (1580 - 1631) of Pocahontas fame and John Smith (1938 - 1994) one time leader of the British Labour Party.
Hence the nursery rhyme: John Smith, fellow fine - Can you shoe this horse of mine? And although it kept going round and round my head I couldn't get any further than the first two lines which was very aggravating.
So I googled it and found a charming website that had the words (and some lovely illustrations) and another one with the tune written out in musical notes. Even better was a site where a woman was singing it. She said it was John Smith of Falloch fine meaning he came from Falloch to the north of Loch Lomond in the Trossachs area of Scotland. Actually she didn't seem to know the tune very well but the accent was wonderful. And so finally, at last, I was able to lay the wretched tune to rest.
Raphael Tuck Connoisseur Series No.2731 Postcards
I wrote previously of some never used Raphael Tuck postcards in Miss Smith's collection and have been finding out a bit more about the fascinating history of the company.
Raphael Tuck and his wife Ernestine established a graphics arts business selling greetings cards and framing pictures in the Bishopsgate area of London in 1866 after emigrating to England from Prussia. In 1880 the company organised a competition for Christmas card designs and on the back of this launched the first Christmas cards business in the world.
As the 'Golden Age' of postcards boomed in the early twentieth century the Tucks moved very successfully into postcards as well.
In 1899 they established their headquarters, known as Raphael House, in the East End of London although Raphael died the next year. The business, which had expanded to take in Paris, New York and a Royal Warrant, was continued by Raphael's sons and their sons in due course.
At the end of 1940 Raphael House was bombed and burned out in the London Blitz with the loss of all the original paintings and the company records. However, undeterred, the company was re-built and continued to go from strength to strength.
I've got a collection of the various births, birthday and wedding cards that my mum saved between 1948 and 1963 and amongst them I've found a funeral memento for Queen Victoria who died in 1901. I'm speculating which of my ancestors had the prescience to save this and think it must have been my grandmother Elsie Smith. There's also a letter she received at the time of her wedding in 1908 and a visiting card with her married name (Mrs S.H. Buckle) printed on it so this special piece of Victoriana feels like it must have been hers. I've put it at the end of the BM&D section of my Archives if you want to see it.
Twenty One To-day!
I've added some 21st Birthday cards to the BM&D section as well.
They were sent to my mum in 1948 and the poor quality of the paper demonstrates what a period of austerity they were living in then.
During World War II paper was severely rationed: by 1945 newspapers were down to 25% of their pre-war production and gift wrapping paper was completely prohibited. By 1948 most non-food products were off ration but in short supply and clothes didn't come off ration until the following year. It wasn't until 1953 that sugar and sweet rationing ended.
The age of majority remained 21 years in the UK until 1970 when it was reduced to 18 years. The symbol of the 'key of the door' traditionally signifies that the person has attained some seniority in the household and is old enough to get the key.
For many years it was tradition to sing "Twenty one to-day, Twenty one today, She / He's got the key of the door, Never been twenty one before" or some other variant on an old music hall song entitled "I'm Twenty One To-day" written by one Alec Kendal in about 1911. The lyrics of the song are as you would expect and you can easily imagine the audience joining in with the chorus.