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Tower Bridge and an interesting offer

Date sent: 23 MAR 1906 

Sender: N/A 

Recipient: Mrs Neville, 21 Waldemar Avenue, Ealing W 

Transcription: This picture represents the opening of the Tower Bridge.  A scheme which is bound to interest you will be placed before you next week.  Look out for it. J.A.P 

This postcard is one for the Sherlock Holmes’s among you.  Apparently it’s simply a black and white version of S Hildesheimer & Co Ltd’s coloured original No. 5222.  

Tower bridge postcard

Postcard message

While the copyright of the image might be credited to Hildesheimer, they make no further production claim, and the finish and feel of the black and white card is a lot rougher. Although posted in 1906, the card has the undivided back favoured before 1902, and the address is in a different hand from the cursive script on the face of the postcard. More surprisingly the handwritten message turns out to be printed – hence the unfortunate partial signature. 

Mr and Mrs Frederick Neville were living at Waldemar Avenue in Ealing in the 1901 Census together with their younger son, eleven-year-old Ewart. Frederick gave his occupation as “Certificated Schoolmaster”. Backtracking through the Census returns, Mary Ann appears in 1871 aged 12, the eldest daughter of Edwin and Margaret Brown with 8 siblings ranging in age from 16 to two months. Edwin was a market gardener with 15 acres employing 6 men and 2 women. Mary married 26-year-old Frederick Neville in 1880, and their first son  – also Frederick William –  was born five years later. By 1911, the Neville’s had retired to Elmcroft, Nr Clapham Hill, Whitstable enjoying a seven roomed house all to themselves. Had the postcard’s scheme contributed towards this move? 

The plot thickens when you go to http://www.metropostcard.com/publishersh2.html and the self-same postcard seems to illustrate Hildesheimer’s entry. Closer inspection reveals that although the image is the same, the text is not.  “Have you ever seen it? Look out for it the next time you are in London but before then look out for an offer that will shortly be made to you.  it is bound to interest you. AGD”.  Written by another hand it has a different signature. However, it seems too much of a coincidence not to have some link – which we are pursuing.  

Tower bridge postcard in colourPostcard message

Meanwhile, a third example appeared for sale recently – apparently identical to Mrs Neville’s, complete with indecipherable signature initials, also posted on MAR 23 06. This one was sent to  Mrs Hildyard of 21 The Avenue, Hornsey. Caroline Hildyard, 54, was married to Arthur W Hildyard, a commercial clerk, and they shared their house with her younger brother Walter J Morby, a landscape painter. She too came from a family of 9, her father Joseph Morby listed as a frame maker in the 1861 Census, had risen to Fine arts Dealer on his daughter’s marriage license. In  1911 they too had moved but Arthur was still working as a merchant’s clerk, and Fanny MacKenzie (nee Morby) had joined her siblings in their seven – room house.  

Three postcards, one offer? Our whiskers are twitching, and we’d love to know more.  If you can shed any light on this transatlantic never to be missed opportunity please let us know. We’re all agog for the next instalment ………… 

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