Picture Postcards from the Great War

The same ww1 image - but not the same!

Tony Allen
During the Great War, a picture postcard would appear in the postcards racks and later the same image on it would appear again, on a completely different card. At first glance, the image on the second card looked very much like the one on the first, but on closer inspection the viewer would soon realise there were changes or differences. Sometimes the change was quite subtle - but often it was obvious. Here are some examples.
Daily Mail card (1)
ww1 postcard “King George and King Albert enjoy an amusing anecdote”
Daily Mail card 82
“King George and King Albert enjoy an amusing anecdote”. said the caption on these two cards. Taken in 1916 by Ernest Brooks - one of the small band of official photographers based on the Western Front - the photograph was issued twice in the Daily Mail War Postcards series of 176 cards. First as No.82 in colour (Series 11) and then as No.90 in photogravure (Series 12). Card No.82 has been ‘improved’. For example, the roof angle appears flatter on this card, chimney stacks have been removed, window frames reduced in size and walls white-washed. However, most extraordinary of all, a foot seemingly aimed at George has mysteriously vanished! Whom the foot belonged to is revealed in the War Illustrated of 9th September 1916. Also see, in the second version, the now rather comical ‘cannot wait’ pose of the officer at the back of the group!
Defenders of the Empire
ww1 card ‘Defenders of the Empire 1914-15’

Raphael Tuck & Sons published the sepia-coloured card on the left as ‘Empire’ postcard no.1282. It was entitled ‘Sons of the Empire’ and was after the painting by Harry Payne produced in December 1899. The card was mailed from Haywards Heath on 29th March 1902. The card on the right was in colour and entitled ‘Defenders of the Empire 1914-15’. It was also painted and signed by Harry Payne. Sold in aid of the National Relief Fund, it was obviously a repainting of the 1899 one produced in photogravure. The earlier card was published during the Anglo/Boer war 1899-1902, while the second card was released during the first months of the Great War. At first sight the images look almost identical, but a closer inspection reveals at least seven distinct changes or additions.

Two from one
At first glance, the images on these two French postcards look similar – British soldiers posing on the deck and rigging of a troop-ship – but look again!
ww1 postcard British troops departing for the Continent
ww1 postcard  “English troops arriving at Dardanelles.”
The top card is captioned “CAMPAGNE DE 1914/ARMEE ANGLAISE – A bord : le depart pour le continent.” The bottom card is captioned “English troops arriving at Dardanelles.” and the year is printed as 1915. A closer look at the images reveals that the second picture is a mirror image of the first. Same picture - but pretending to have been taken in both 1914 and 1915.

Daily Mail card (2)

Two more cards from the Daily Mail War Postcards series. They were both produced from the same photograph by two of the four printers that were employed to produce the series. It seems that the four firms were allowed to produce their own style of caption and to crop or alter images as they so wished. This often resulted in cards appearing with slightly different images on cards bearing the same number.
daily mail ww1 card

This card is No.119 from Series 15. The title is “KING GEORGE IN A GUN PIT.” The caption reads, "During his visit to the front, King George entered this gun-pit beside one of our gigantic howitzers." The card features George in the centre and on his right side, on top of one of the gun wheels, is the head of an officer. The caption is in black ink and in upper-case.

daily mail card 119

This card is another version of No.119 from Series 15. "King George in a Gin Pit". The caption is the same but it inow in blue and lower case. The viewpoint is now wider - allowing General Pluer to enter from the right. However,  the King is still in the centre and the officers’ head is still on the gun wheel.

Belgium artist Maurice Wagemans
Below is a fund-raising postcard published by Tucks and Son in aid of the Wounded Allies Relief Committee and titled "THE ALLIES", It depicted a 'Tommy' by the side of a road greeting a group of passing wounded Belgian soldiers. According to the text on the back of the card  "The original of this remarkable artistic picture of which this photogravure postcard is a faithful reproduction, [was] executed in pastel by the famous Belgian artist Maurice Wagemans".  The card shown below is that published by Tucks and below it, a card depicting Wagemans original picture in pastel "...a faithful reproduction..." ?  Well, not quite!


ww1 postcard by Maurice Wagemans
ww1 Postcard
We are told that the "ALLIES" card published by Tucks, was a 'faithfull reproduction' of the original painting. However, this was not true. On the card depicting Wagemans original painting, entitled "HEROS", the position of the British soldier was occupied by a Belgian soldier with his right arm in a sling. Also, compare the gaze of the figure on the extreme right. "HEROS" was from a set of fund-raising card entitled "ASILES DES SOLDATS INVALIDES BELGES" and featured reproductions of paintings or drawings by Maurice Wagemans and J. Thiriar. The studies included pictures of soldiers from various Belgian Army units, nurses and wounded soldiers.

Wagemans was one of the hundred or so Belgian artists who volunteered to join the army when Germany invaded Belgium. Billeted in the towns of Lo and Nieuwpoort, a number of them (including Wagemans and Thiriar) set up a studio in the cellar of a bombed-out house.
In 1916, several of the artists were transferred to the 'Section Artistique' of the Belgian army
NERVES 2 ww1 postcards
"Nerves". Two cards in the "CELESQUE SERIES". The one on the left, depicting an anxious sentry at a tented encampment, was posted in Portsmouth on 6th July 1915. The message reads "I hope your better half  is'nt like this one. Love Connie." The card on the right depicting the same sentry, but now guarding a YMCA hut was posted from Pocklington on 8th June 1916.
what did you do in the great war
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