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A pointed reminder from Papa and the Tower Armouries to keep in touch.

A pointed reminder from Papa and the Tower Armouries to keep in touch.

Date sent: 31 Mar 1905 

Sender: N/A 

RecipientMonsieur Etienne Encausse 

Transcription: Mes chers infants. Vous ne m’ecriver pas. Je suis inquiette il faut espere que vous  n’estez pas malade. Un pétit mot svp puits me rassurer. Le bonjour pour tous.  mille baisers Mr Encausse 

My dear children. You do not write to me. I am worried.  It is to be hoped you are not sick.  A little word to reassure me please. A good day to you all. A thousand kisses (?)Mr Encausse. 

 

Gale and Polden Ltd “Art Publishers, Photographers and Printers” started life in Chatham.  The firm established strong naval and military links, supplying standardised printed forms and stationery as well as instruction manuals. In 1893, they moved their headquarters and main works to Aldershot.  They also had works in Portsmouth and a London Office at no.2, Amen Corner in the City.  In 1901 they expanded their range to include postcards.   

The firm also had strong links with the Tower of London, and their images, especially of onsite displays and ceremonies were published as both souvenir albums and postcards. After his retirement as Curator of the Tower Armouries in 1912, Viscount Dillon provided text for the Tower souvenir album.  

Post card in french

And it was Dillon’s work that Monsieur Encausse’s postcard celebrates. The Armouries’ displays moved from the New Horse Armoury to the upper floors of the White Tower in 1882-3, but it was Dillon, appointed in 1895, who really began their reorganisation.  He was also the beneficiary of internal lighting in the White Tower, thanks to the wonders of electricity.  This postcard clearly shows the previous arrangement – light wells cut through the White Tower roof and top floor – and the update. The Royal Engineers installed the large globe lights in spring 1884, and although unsubtle (a later curator described them as better suited to a railway station), they brightened a late afternoon Tower visit considerably.  The public wandered among the armed and armoured figures, trusted to obey notices instructing them not to touch, unaware that the days of such an immersive experience were numbered. Modernisation brought enlightenment – both physical and intellectual. Exhibits would become chronologically and thematically ordered, labelled and eventually protected behind glass. The atmospheric, if gloomy, interior was lost forever, and the massed displays – gothic cathedrals of death – slimmed to tasteful and informative highlights. 

Postcard with a museum display of armour

All this was to come – Master Etienne was no doubt thrilled with his Papa’s card, and pointed reminder to keep in touch. 

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