Summary

Embroidered postcard with muslin flap with smaller rectangular card inside. The postcard depicts the flags of some of the Entente Powers (or Allies of World War I). From left to right the flags depicted are: America, France, Portugal, Serbia, Russia, Italy, Belgium and a Red Ensign. The national flags of each of these countries are shown in a simplified form due to the medium of embroidery.

The Red Ensign may be used here as a flag of Empire, or may be standing in for Britain, since the British flag is absent. It is is normally associated with the Royal Navy, and later the Merchant Navy. (Australia's Red Ensign includes the Southern Cross in white.)

The postcard was written by 'Tom' to his cousin 'Molly.' The identity of Tom and Molly remains unknown; however, another postcard acquired in the same auction lot is from a 'Thomas' to 'Jessie' (HT 30622) and possibly refers to the Tom mentioned here. The postcard to Jessie also contains a smaller card that bears the inscription: 'To Mrs A Fox / From C Glendenning / With all good wishes' and another postcard in the same lot is addressed to 'Mother & Jess' from 'Andy' (HT 30629). 'A. Fox' may refer to Private Andrew Fox, who served with the A.I.F. as part of the 13th Battalion, 21st Reinforcement and is a likely candidate for 'Andy' as well. The C. Glendenning mentioned on the card included with the postcard to Jessie may be a reference to a Private Clarence Glendenning who served with the A.I.F. as part of the 15th Battalion, 8th Reinforcements. However, the exact identity of all persons associated with these messages remains unclear.

According to the Australian War Memorial, the popularity of embroidered postcards (first made for the Paris Exposition in 1900) peaked during World War I. Many were 'embroidered by French women in their homes and then sent to the factories for cutting and mounting on postcards'. Common themes included family, remembrance, liberty, unity and war souvenirs.

Description of Content

Eight national flags branching out from a four leaf clover on the upper piece of muslin. A turquoise message on the lower piece of muslin. Image of a woman holding a flower, with a basket of flowers at her feet on the rectangular card.

Physical Description

A cardboard postcard with two pieces of muslin with cream lining attached to the top and bottom of corrugated cardboard border. Colourful images and text sewn onto muslin. Top piece lifts up to reveal a rectangular card tucked into lower piece of muslin. The rectangular card has a printed image and statement on the front, and a blank back. Handwritten message on back of postcard. The back of the postcard displays printed text with a dividing-back.

Significance

Embroidered postcards were very popular during World War I, with common themes including family, remembrance, liberty and unity. Their popularity began to wane after the war and they are not found after c.1923, making embroidered postcards a souvenir unique to World War I.

This postcard depicts eight flags of the Allied nations during World War I. Although important as a symbol of patriotism it is interesting to note that the flag depicted for Australia is the Red Ensign, as opposed to the more recognisable Blue Ensign. Another point of interest is the absence of the British flag.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Public Life & Institutions

  • Acquisition Information

    Purchase

  • Place Named

    France, 1914-1918

  • Format

    Postcard

  • Inscriptions

    Embroidered in turquoise Gothic text on the front of the postcard: 'Souvenir of the Great War' Printed in purple ink on the back of the postcard in the centre: 'CARTE POSTALE / POST CARD ; POSTKAART / CORRESPONDANCE ; ADDRESS' Hand-written, in pencil on the back of the postcard: 'Dear Molly / Just a line to let you know / I am well & in the best of health / Hoping you are the same. Hoping / you will like this card. I will remain / XXXX Your Loving Cousin Tom' Printed in black ink on the front of an attached rectangular card: 'Souvenir / from France'

  • Classification

    Military history, Service, Souvenirs

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline

    History

  • Type of item

    Image

  • Postcard

    139 mm (Width), 90 mm (Height)

  • 2D flat

    47 mm (Width), 77 mm (Height)

  • Keywords

    Embroidery, Souvenirs, Postcards, Flags, Patriotism, World War I, 1914-1918