Monday, 24 May 2010

Edwardian Postcards

Recently I took a trip to my local Antiques Arcade in my home town and found some sweet treasures in the form  of some lovely Edwardian postcards. Rather inspired by them, I returned home with more than I had anticipated. Following this occasion, I have noticed that have done a piece of their own on Edwardian Postcards and felt I should also document the ones that I now have in my "collection". 

However, on further inspection I have dug up some interesting information on this one postcard of an Edwardian actress named Miss Gabrielle Ray so I thought I would focus on her for the time being.

Initially, I believed this to be an early fetish photograph as Miss Gabrielle appears to sitting almost provocatively using a whip of some variety as a prop. However, after further research on the National Portrait Gallery Collections website, she is actually recorded as being an 'Actress and dancer' as well as a 'Sitter in 75 portraits' having lived between1883-1973. The website also has a lovely image of Miss Gabrielle sitting for a further postcard...

Interestingly enough, in this image the actress looks much less risque and slightly more respectable. Despite this, it would appear that she is wearing the same dress as in the previous photo. I speculate that this means that the two images were photographed not long after each other. The National Portrait Gallery dates this bromide postcard print to be C. 1910s, suggesting that my postcard also dates to this point in the 20th Century making Ray in her late 20s at the time this image was taken.Quite possible perhaps.

With regards to the risque nature of the earlier postcard, it is interesting to consider this woman's role as an Edwardian actress and dancer. I'm wondering if perhaps at this time, women who were part of the 'entertainment industry' were put in a similar box to courtesans of the time? But this is mere speculation.

On further googling around I have found that some interest has already been built around Gabrielle Ray including a website dedicated to her at You can also find the postcard that I have on here too. Quite exciting. There are also some other great postcards of her too. I especially like this clown one...

And this sailor one...

She even appears to be looking out to sea here which is rather lovely.

The author (unknown) of this comprehensive website has even written a bibliography on Miss Gabrielle which notes that the Edwardian actress was born in Cheshire as Gabrielle Elizabeth Clifford Cook in 1883. She married a man in 1912 named Eric Loder but the marriage ended quickly in 1914. Miss Gabrielle then continued her career as an actress for the next ten years but was then admitted to a mental institution for the following 40 years. The actress then died at the age of 90 years in 1973.

Liebemarlene Vintage has also got a rather nice blog post on Miss Gabrielle here.

I love how pieces from the past can take you on such a lovely journey. You really don't know what you might find out or what kind of inspiration you might take.

Well that's all for now, I'll be exploring my other postcards at a later date 


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