This vintage real photo postcard features theater actress Miss Ethel Erskine as she appeared in the role of Ilona in the production of “Gipsy Love”. Miss Erskine was a beautiful woman with dazzling and engaging eyes. Preliminary research discovered little about her biographical history. However, some information was found about the production of “Gipsy Love”. The show was a romantic operetta in three acts. The production played at the Carltheater in Vienna (1910), the Globe Theatre on Broadway (1911), and Daly’s Theatre in London (1912). This postcard was printed in Britain and produced by Rotary Photo as part of a series (11476 D).




This cabinet card portrait features a poised little girl posing behind a chair. She appears to be wearing a costume and is standing on a prop to gain some extra height. She appears to be an actress and an inscription on the reverse of the photograph supports that hypotheses. The inscription states “Little May Sabrini as Eva” and lists the girl’s age as 7 years old. The Stewart & Lokke (Oscar) studio produced this photograph and The Directory of Early Michigan Photographers lists the pair as conducting their photography business in Escanaba in 1890. The town of Escanaba was involved in some pretty interesting protective business practices focused on helping local photographers. The Bulletin of Photography (1913) reports on an interesting law passed by the city council in Escanaba. The politicians decided to charge itinerant photographers for coming to town and conducting business. Traveling photographers who took pictures in the town’s street were charged 1 dollar for their first days work and fifty cents each day thereafter. Photographers who used tents or temporary quarters were charged two dollars for the first day and a dollar for each successive day. If a traveling photographer used flash photography, a fee of five dollars for the first day and two dollars for each day thereafter was required. Any photographer that did not comply with the law would be subject to at least a hundred dollar fine or up to sixty days in the county jail. I wonder what it cost the local photographers to encourage city council to pass such an unfair trade law to discourage visits from itinerant photographers.


Published in: on October 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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julia-jamesThis vintage real photo postcard features Julia James (1890-1964), a beautiful stage actress. She sat in 76 portraits that are part of England’s National Portrait Gallery. She is considered by one theatrical writer to be among the top fifteen most beautiful actresses of the 1900’s Edwardian era. She was born in London, England and began her career as a chorus girl at the Aldwych Theatre under Seymour Hicks. She played in “Blue Belle” in 1905. She appeared in productions at the Gaiety Theatre. These plays included “The Girls of Gottenburg”, “Havana”, and  “Our Miss Gibbs”. She performed in Paris in “The Arcadians” (1913). This “Rotophot” postcard was printed in Berlin, Germany. It was published by Giesen Brothers of London. It is postmarked in Cathorpe in 1907. The village is located beside the Avon River in Leicestershire, England. The postcard is part of a series (no. 0858). The photographer of this image is the fabulous celebrity photographer, Rita Martin. She is considered one of the best British photographers of her time.Her studio was in an exclusive neighborhood  She was born Margareta Weir Martin in Ireland.  Margareta “Rita” Martin started her career in photography in 1897 by assisting her elder sister Lallie Charles in running her studio. In 1906 Rita opened her own studio.  Rita had a specialty in photographing actresses including Lily Elsie and Lily Brayton. She was also well known for her child studies which often involved children of well known actresses. Lily’s sister, Lallie Charles was more known as an excellent society photographer.




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The top vintage real photo postcard features stage actress Miss Denise Orme. She is very attractive and beautifully dressed. She is wearing a fur stole and and fur muffs. She has a lovely hat and wonderful smile. Miss Orme’s given name was Jessie Smither, and was later known as Duchess of Leinster. Denise Orme (1885-1960) was an English music hall singer, actress and musician who was a regular performeer at the Alhambra and Gaiety Theatres in London during the early years of the twentieth century. Her mother was a professor of music. She trained for her theatrical career at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music. Her stage debut was in 1906 in the chorus at Daly’s Theatre in London. Later that same year she appeared in the title role of “See See” at the Prince of Wales Theatre. In 1906 she participated in gramophone recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”. Her marital history reveals that she had a predilection to choosing husbands that were “rich and famous”. She was married to an English Baron, A Danish millionaire, and an Irish duke. She was the maternal grandmother of Aga Khan IV.who is the current Imam of Nizari Ismailism which is a denomination of of Ismailism within Shia Islam with 15 million adherents. He is also a British business magnate. Miss Orme’s photographic portrait was taken by the Foulsham and Banfield Studio. Foulsham & Banfield were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio in the 1900’s through the 1920’s. The postcard was published by Rotary Photo and is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (#4098 Q). The postcard has a postmark from London, England, and dated 1907. The postmark date reveals that this portrait of Miss Orme was taken at the beginning of her stage career. In the message section of the postcard, the sender asks the receiver, “What do you think of Denise?”. In addition, the sender asserts on the front of the postcard “Nice hat, isn’t it?”. I have to agree; not only is Miss Orme lovely, so is her hat…….  The second postcard shows the beautiful and well dressed Miss Orme peeking out from behind a curtain. The photographer is Alexander Bassano (1829-1913) who was a leading royal and high society photographer located in London. This postcard, like the first was published by Rotary Photo and is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 1933 I)……. The third photo postcard portrait of Miss Orme presents a close-up profile view of this stunningly pretty young actress. Like the first two photo postcards, this one is also published by the Rotary Photo company and is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 4098 M). The photograph was taken by “Play Pictorial” which was an English theatre magazine published in London between 1902 and 1939. The publication provided a pictorial presentation of West End theatrical productions with each issue focusing on just one play.

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These cabinet cards feature Marie Wainwright (1853-1923), an American stage actress and singer. She also appeared in three silent films between 1918  and 1920. Most of her fame came from the Victorian stage. She was born in Philadelphia and as educated in Paris, France. She received her acting training in Paris. Her first stage appearance was in New York in “Romeo and Juliette (1877)”. Her career flourished afterward. She spent many years in the Boston Museum company and later on, operated her own theatre company. During her career, she was the leading lady for Edwin Booth, Lawrence Barrett, and other well known actors. She appeared primarily in classics and high dramas until the turn of the century. She then appeared in more contemporary productions. Her resume includes roles in “H. M. S. Pinafore” and “Diplomacy”. When asked why she entered the acting profession, in a New York Times interview (1878), she stated that she did it for her children’s sake. Wainwright claimed that she was married before the age of fifteen, and had three kids before she turned twenty-one years of age. She stated that her husband was not supporting her and the children, and she needed to work for financial reasons. It appears that the breakup of Wainwright’s marriage was a hot news item. The marital conflict was quite dramatic and there were some questions about Ms. Wainwright’s character. The top  photographic portrait is by Sarony’s New York City  studio. Sarony was a famous celebrity photographer and other examples of his work can be seen by clicking on the category labelled “Photographer: Sarony”. This image shows Wainwright wearing a white gown and bonnet. She is holding a book and rosary beads.

The second cabinet card was also photographed by Sarony. Miss Wainwright certainly was a pretty woman. The reverse of the cabinet card has an inscription describing some aspects of her career. There is also a stamp from a photographic supply dealer on the photo’s reverse. The dealer is C. E. Hopkins whose business was located in Brooklyn, New York. Mr Hopkins was an excellent self promoter as illustrated by mention of his name and business in several photographic journals of his time. For example, “Photographic Times” (1890) recounts that one of Mr Hopkins’s amateur customers produced a series of photographs pertaining to a duel, that Mr Hopkins had shared with the publication. It is likely that this cabinet card portrait of Miss Wainwright once could be found “for sale” in C. E. Hopkins’s shop.




This vintage real photo postcard features Edwardian theater actress Miss Dorothy Chard. Preliminary research yielded little information about her life and her career. More intensive research is required to uncover biographical information. The Internet Broadway Data Base (IBDB) notes that Miss Chard appeared in eleven Broadway shows from 1926 through 1930. She played in musicals but she primarily appeared in comedies. Among her credits are “Merry-Go-Round” (1927) and “Cinderelative” (1930). The dearth of information about Miss Chard reveals that she certainly was not a leading actress of her time but she certainly was beautiful and well known enough to merit the publishing of a photo postcard by the Rotary Postcard company. This postcard was part of the Rotary Photographic series (no. 4353 A). The photograph of Dorothy Chard appearing on this postcard was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield Studio.The pair were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio from the 1900’s through the 1920’s. The postcard is postmarked 1909 from Edinburg, Scotland. Edinburg is Scotland’s capital city. The content of the message on this postcard mentions “fresh cards” referring to newly released photo postcards. Collecting such cards was a popular hobby during this era. I guess this hobby was a precursor to collecting pokemon. I prefer collecting photo portraits. Call me “old school”.



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The top vintage real photo postcard features actress Miss Nora Kerin (1883-1970) as she appeared in the theatrical production of “The Prince and the Beggar Maid”. The actress is absolutely beautiful as is her costume. The play opened at the Lyceum in June of  1908 and ran for 82 performances. Miss Kerin played Princess Monica. The actress was born in London and her family was chock full of actresses including sister, Eileen Kerin and cousing Julia Neilson, Lily Hanbury, and Hilda Hanbury. Photographs of Miss Neilson and Mis Lily Hanbury can be found elsewhere in the Cabinet Card Gallery. Nora Kerin made her stage debut in 1899. In conducting my preliminary research about Nora Kerin, I was struck by the number of negative reviews of her acting that I encountered. One review concerned her performance as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet”. The production was at the Lyceum Theater in 1908 and the review appeared in London’s “Daily Mail”.  The reviewer wrote “‘Oh, Juliet. Juliet, wherefore art thou Juliet?’ This is, of course, an inversion and a parody; but, seriously, the Juliet of Miss Nora Kerin cannot be taken so. She declaims in the conventional old-fashioned style. She somehow destroys – on the stage – her own personality, and instead of looking the pink of charm and youth (as she is when “taking a call”) she manages to conceal both. Many of her lines were badly spoken, falsely intonated and punctuated. She had moments … melodramatic outbursts … but she is not the personality … she has not the witching simplicity of the real Juliet”. Clearly, Miss Kerin was not a luminary actress of her time. However, she was quite pretty and fifteen portraits of her can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery. The photographer of this postcard image was Rita Martin, a celebrated female photographer. She is considered one of the best British photographers of her time.Her studio was in an exclusive neighborhood at  at 74 Baker Street, Marylebone. She was born Margareta Weir Martin in Ireland.  Margareta “Rita” Martin started her career in photography in 1897 by assisting her elder sister Lallie Charles in running her studio. In 1906 Rita opened her own studio. She had a style of photographing subjects in pale colors against a pure white background and she tended to avoid photographing men and older boys.  Rita had a specialty in photographing actresses including Lily Elsie and Lily Brayton. She was also well known for her child studies which often involved children of well known actresses. Lily’s sister, Lallie Charles was more known as an excellent society photographer. Many of Rita Martin’s photographs can be found in the National Portrait Gallery. A photograph of Rita Martin, by Rita Martin can be seen below. This vintage real photo postcard was produced by the Rotary Photo Company and was part of a series (no. 1796 Z).                                                                                                                 The second postcard portrait of Miss Kerin is also a good representation of her beauty. In addition she is wearing a beautiful lace dress and an extraordinary hat. The photographers of this terrific image, Foulsham & Banfield were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio in the 1900’s through the 1920’s. This postcard is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 1796 H) and is of English origin and is postmarked 1907.                                                                                                        The third postcard features Nora Kerin in her role as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet”. Unlike the first two portraits, in this image she is wering her hair down and is projecting an air of innocence through the placement of her hands and her vulnerable expression. Just like the top postcard, this image was photographed by Rita Martin and the postcard was part of the Rotary Photographic Series (1796 S) by the Rotary Photo Company. 

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                                                                                                                                                            by Rita Martin, sepia-toned matte postcard print, 1900s







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This vintage real photo postcard features celebrated stage actress Miss Lily Elsie (1886-1962). At the time of her portrait sitting for this image, Miss Elsie was also known as “Mrs. Ian Bullugh”. More about that later. Lily Elsie was a very popular English actress and singer. She was most known for her starring role in the London production of “The Merry Widow (1907)”. The show ran for 778 performances. A critic for The Pelican (1907) wrote that “the youthfulness, the dainty charm and grace, the prettiness and the exquisite dancing with which Miss Elsie invests the part…. I share the opinion of most of the first-nighters, who considered it could not have been in better hands, and could not have been better handled…. The night was a genuine triumph for Miss Elsie, and she well deserved all the calls she received”. She began as a child actress and before her big break had appeared in a number of Edwardian musical comedies. She was charming and beautiful and became one of the most photographed actresses of her time. Lily Elsie’s dad was a theater worker and her aunt was well known actress Ada Reeve. Shortly after the turn of the century she joined George Edwardes’ company at the Daly Theater. Some of her early appearances included “A Chinese Honeymoon”, “Lady Madcap”, “The Little Michus (1905)”. In the years between 1900 and 1906 she appeared in 14 shows. After the “Merry Widow” she appeared in  26 more shows including “The Dollar Princess” (1909) and “A Waltz Dream” (1911). She clearly was an actress who was in demand. Men paid her much attention but apparently she did not enjoy the attention. Lucile, her costume designer for “The Merry Widow” stated that Elsie was “absolutely indifferent to men and had once said that she disliked “the male character”. She added that men would only behave well if a woman “treated them coldly”. Now, some words about her marriage. In 1911 she he left the cast of a play in which she was performing to marry Major John Ian Bullough (1885–1936). Major Bullough was the son of a wealthy textile manufacturer. He was formerly married to actress Maude Darrell who only survived one year after their 1909 marriage. The marriage between Elsie and Bullough was reported to be very unhappy. Elsie’s health began to deteriorate and her husband pressured her to quit the stage and she was ready to do so. She returned to the stage during the war years (World War I) and was active in fund raising for the war effort. She next took a ten year break from the stage only to return once again. Her final performance took place in the Daly Theater in the play “The Truth Game” (1929). In addition to her theater career, Elsie made recordings, and appeared in two films, including D. W. Griffith’s “The Great Love” (1918). Also appearing in that film was Lillian Gish. In 1930 Elsie’s marriage ended in divorce. Her health began to deteriorate more and she developed hypochondriasis causing her to spend much time in nursing homes and sanitariums. Due to her psychological problems she had brain surgery. Her final years were spent at St. Andrews hospital in London. This postcard is part of a series (Arcadian no. A 26). The photographer of this image of this beautiful actress is the well known celebrity photographer, Rita Martin. She was considered one of the best British photographers of her time. She opened her studio in 1906. Martin’s sister, Lallie Charles was an esteemed society photographer. Many of Rita’s photographs can be found in the National Portrait Gallery. To view more photographs by Rita Martin in the cabinet card gallery, click on the category “Photographer: Martin”.


                                                       Wedding Photo (1911)


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Published in: on September 1, 2016 at 12:51 pm  Comments (2)  



This vintage real photo postcard features a beautiful actress named Alice Crawford (1882-1931). Miss Crawford was born in Bendigo, Australia. Her sister, Ruby Crawford was also an actress. Miss Crawford came to England with actor Wilson Barret in 1902 after appearing with him in Australia. Her London debut was in 1902 in in the play “The Christian”.  She was in the revival of the play in 1907. Other stage credits include “Antony and Cleopatra (1906), Matt of Merrymount (1908), and “The Passing of the Third Floor, Back” (1908). The New York Times (1909) announced her arrival in New York to perform in “These Are My People”. She is credited with film roles in “False Ambition” (1918) and Glorious Adventure (1922). There are fifteen portraits of Alice Crawford in the National Portrait Gallery, eight of which are by the photographer of the above photo postcard (Alexander Bassano}. Bassano  (1829 –1913) was a leading royal and high society photographer in Victorian London. Crawford was married to George Valentine Williams. He was wounded twice in WW I and was awarded the Military Cross. He later worked as a journalist, mostly in trouble spots. During WW2 he conducted “confidential work” for the British Government. He is best known as an author of Detective Fiction. He died in 1946. This postcard captures Miss Crawford in costume for her role as “Diantha Frothingham” in “Matt of Merrymount” (1908). Alice Crawford certainly qualifies as a “stage beauty” and she has an amazingly engaging smile. Bassano photographed the actress for Rotary Photo’s, Rotary Photographic Series (no.1852 R). 

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This vintage real photo postcard features child actress, Miss Renee Mayer, posing in character for photographers Foulsham and Banfield. She is photographically captured in her role as Puck in the theatrical production of “The Sleeping Beauty Re-Awakened”. Note the cute little puppy that she is holding. Mayer was a child actress and dancer who made her stage debut in 1910 as the Pearl Fairy in “The Goldfish”. She is most noted for her performance as Puck in three revivals of “Sleeping Beauty” (1912, 1913, 1914). She acted in pantomimes throughout her teenage years and appeared in films in the early 1920’s including “A Bachelor Husband” (1920). Miss Mayer was born in 1900 which informs us that she was somewhere around thirteen years old when she posed for this photograph. The New York Times (1915) mentions Renee Mayer in an article about a play called “Masque of War and Peace”. Looking at the roster of cast members in this production, it becomes clear that the show had an all-star cast. Performers included Mme Rejane, Lily Elsie, Edna May, Viola Tree, Elsie Janie, Lily Langtry and of course Miss Mayer. The show was performed at the Drury Lane Theatre to raise money for “The American Women’s War Relief Fund”. Great Britain’s National Portrait Gallery has twenty real photo postcard portraits of Miss Mayer. Three of the images are photographs by Foulsham and Banfield and published by Rotary Photo (just like the image above). This postcard is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 6924 B) and was printed in Britain.

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