I often run across “lots” of postcards at estate sales and auctions. Many are quite common with scenes of towns and cities, famous buildings or landmarks, animals and, of course, those that offer greetings. While going through a group of cards, I found one showing a breathtakingly beautiful lady. She has an elegant long gown, feather in her hair and is holding an ornate fan. I was quite frankly wowed by her loveliness.
There was a name at the bottom: Miss Mabel Love. There was also “1881 J Rotary Photo, E.C.” I presumed she was a famous lady, perhaps an actress or singing star, but had not heard of her before. I learned she was a British dancer and stage actress with a long history. Born in 1874 and living until 1953, her career lasted from the late Victorian era and into the Edwardian period.
It made good sense that she’d feel comfortable on the stage since her grandfather was an entertainer and ventriloquist and her mother, Kate Watson, was an actress. She actually made her debut at age 12!
There were lots of twists and turns in her life. Some of the things I learned would make for good conversation today. For example, in 1889 a newspaper reported she had disappeared. It was later stated that she had gone to the Thames, considering suicide. Most likely a publicity stunt, it only increased the public’s interest in Ms. Love. This sure sounds like a scheme today’s celebrities might utilize.
I also learned that when Frank Foulsham, the photographer, had the idea of selling the images of actresses on postcards, she became known as the “pretty girl on the postcard.” So I was not wrong in my assessment of her.
Another interesting fact is that when she died, she left a considerable sum of money to her daughter, Mary Loraine. Unfortunately, Mary never learned of the inheritance and died in poverty in 1973 in a house fire.
Part of the thrill of the hunt is digging deeper when you find something that interests you. I found her to be so beautiful that I had to learn more. Postcards remain one of the top collectibles. Some folks specialize, for example, in souvenirs of their hometown, or animals, automobilia, or celebrities. We have also had people tell us that they collect the backs of cards, since they want old stamps or messages that make you smile. The back of this one has a cancelled penny stamp, a partial postal mark showing a time of 7:30 PM and year of “07″, and a note of apology to Dear Winnie – for not being able to “come down tomorrow.” Easy to find and often very inexpensive, cards are also so easy to display. Happy hunting!