Saturday, October 20, 2018

HFHS Meeting - Finding George

Finding George
Tracing a 1st World War Soldier
2.30pm on 27th October
Herts Family History Society Meeting 
Woolmer Green Village Hall, SG3 6SZ
Hall opens 1.30pm

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Balderson's Wharf
Roy has kindly supplied an update on Balderson's Wharf, Hemel Hempstead.  It appear that the person after whom the wharf was named was actually born with the surname Osbaldeston!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Tring Earth Closet - Update

I have been very busy recently but when I have time I sit and think about my genealogy web site, and sometimes I am moved to deposit some new material in it.

Recently Allen pointed out there was a leak in the page on the Tring Earth Closet and I have removed the broken link and added a new link for any environmentally friendly reader who want to make compost.

P.S. If you know where there is a surviving Victorian Tring-designed earth closet it might make a very practical addition to the local history museum.

The War on the Western Front in 1914

Wednesday 17th October 2018 - Dr Jonathan Boff
Subject: 'The War on the Western Front in 1918'

Jonathan Boff is a Senior Lecturer in History and War Studies at the University of Birmingham, where he teaches courses on conflict from Homer to Helmand.

He specialises in the First World War and his previous book, Winning and Losing on the Western Front: The British Third Army and the Defeat of Germany in 1918 (CUP, 2012) was short-listed for the Templer Medal and for the British Army Book of the Year award.

He was educated at Merton College, Oxford and the Department of War Studies, King's College London and spent twenty years working in finance before returning to academia. He serves on the councils of the National Army Museum and Army Records Society, has worked as a historical consultant with the British Army and the BBC, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

The talk takes place in the Weston Auditorium, University of Hertfordshire, De Havilland Campus, Herts, AL10 9EU and starts at at 7.30pm with doors open from 7pm. To book your FREE ticket, car park pass and for further information, please visit the link below:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/war-on-the-western-front-in-1918-dr-jonathan-boff-tickets-50642505096

For directions and site map visit: www.hertsatwar.co.uk/talks-2017-2018 

* Note the car park pass will be email separately, shortly before the talk

Friday, September 21, 2018

What is happening to the "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" web site

If we install a lift this is where it would have to go!
I am still here but apart from a few minor behind the scenes updates to the main web site, and a few private emails, there has been no real action to report. The current situation is as follows.

  • On the computer side the old system which runs the ancient software to support the web site is showing further signs of old age and it only really being kept alive so that I can update the web site.
  • On the domestic side, we may have to make some changes to our house for health-related reasons. If we install a lift the only possible location would require me to significantly downsize my Hertfordshire Library.
  • As the main function of the library was to support the web site I may well decide to sell .off a significant number of Hertfordshire books on ebay over the winter, and will give details here when I do.
  • Where there is unique material I will consider transferring it to a suitable archive.
Blog: An Evolutionary Model of Human Intelligence
However 50 years ago I was put in charge of a project to design a human-friendly computer - only to be made redundant a couple of years later as the result of the government inspired merger to form the computer company ICL - which decided it was not interested. The subsequent story is long and complicated, but it now seems that my 1968 ideas were modelling how human short term memory works - and my ideas are now relevant to the way the brain works. As a result my top online priority in future will centre around an new blog 
Feel free to drop in to see a very different side of my interests.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A sick computer and lost emails

For various reasons I have not been able to spend much time on genealogy recently and the ancient computer I have been using to support the "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" web site has been having some serious problems including a faulty memory card.

While its can still be used to update the online web site it is not certain how long it will be working well enough to do so. Over the next few month I hope to be able to clear some back-log updates. As arrangements have been made for the site to be archived by the British Library everything online should be "safe".

When the old system finally collapses this blog will still continue.

Another fault has just lead to the "Outbox" folder (and possibly some other folders) of my email package being corrupted - before I had completed the move of all my email to a newer computer. My back up arrangement does not appear to have worked so if I has sent you an email from my hertfordshire-genealogy address in the last few years I may no longer have a copy!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Restrictions on the "Ask Chris" facility

I have just reworded the "Ask Chris" page on the main Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site to read:

Ask Chris
Your Questions answered by the Resident Genealogist
Sorry but Ask Chris is now
 CLOSED
to new queries as this web site is currently being put into archive mode.
Messages are still welcomed if they help to correct errors or otherwise extend clearly identified web pages or relate to the source or reuse of material (including pictures) already on this web site.

The Newsletter Blog is continuing and news items for possible inclusion on it are very welcome.


The instructions make it clear that all emails will be treated as spam unless either they clearly specify which page on the web site is relevant or include news items appropriate for Hertfordshire Genealogy News.

The reason is quite simple - the time I can spend on the web site is extremely limited (due to other matters which need attention) and priority has to be given to the fact that the site will, in the not too distant future, only be available as an archive. There is a backlog of material waiting to be added to the final archive and I would like to concentrate on transferring this online, and of course correcting any errors, before the old computer finally gives up the ghost.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Weights and Measures offences at Watford in 1857


 Watford
Petty Sessions
December 29, 1857

Unjust Weights Measures and Scales


People Mentioned

Magistrates
W. Stuart, Esq., Chairman
Sergeant Woolrych
Rev. A. H. Barker
A. Currie, Esq.

Before the Bench
Mrs. Shrimp
Mr. Mallard
Mr. Preston
Mr. Boddy
Mr. Bates
Mrs. Bye
Mr. Gotley of  Frowley Bottom (Abbots Langley)
Mrs. Neale
Mr. Fensom
James Weston
Thomas Hawes
Mrs. Ryder

Solicitors, etc.
Mr Adcock
Mr Sedgwick

Bucks Herald 2nd January, 1858 (From British Newspaper Archive)

If you can identify any of the offenders please comment below.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The origin of the Placename Betlow

I was recently asked about the origin of the surname Betlow and whether it was associated with Betlow Farm, near Tring, in Hertfordshire. I replied:
Surnames only started in medieval times and spellings only started to be standardised after the invention of printing and in some cases current spellings (both surnames and place names) may be only a hundred years old.  As a result any analysis of the origins of a surname must involve a large degree of uncertainty.
Some surnames came into existance because someone was named after the place where they came from. It is therefore possible possible that your surname "Betlow" refers back to someone who lived at a place called "Betlow."
The earliest known reference to the Hertfordshire village/manor of "Betelawe"was in 1203 with other 13th century references being to "Betelowe," " Betelaue" and "Bettelawe." The village was abandoned in the Middle Ages (possibly due to the Black Death) and for many centuries all that remained of the manor was a single farm.
The Moat at Moat Farm, Marsworth, undoubtedly dug to drain the central area for the Farm
 "The Placenames of Hertfordshire" suggests that the placename probably was a descriptive term meaning Beta's mound or hill.  The area around Betlow Farm is vey flat - so it clearly doesn't refer to a hill. I haven't visited the Farm but I know much of the area would have been very wet in the past - perhaps even marshy - although moden drainage has lowered the water table. So it is possible that there was a slightly raised area which was drained well enough to build a house.  Not many miles away there are moated sites (often with no surviving buildings, where the effect of the moat was almost certainly to leave a dry area on which a wooden farm house could be built. In the nearby Village of Long Marston the old church is on a mound perhaps 3 feet higher that the surrounding fields - with the remains of a waterfiled moat close by - possible for that reason.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Fasting at Champneys, nr Tring, in 1926

I have updated the Champneys page to included press cuttings and all the post card images now enlarge if you click on them

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Locating households mentioned in Census Returns


I have just had an inquiry about the location of a house described in the 1891 census as "8 Court No 10, Vicarage Cottages" in the parish of St Mary, Watford.


Care must be taken with such entries. For each household the census enumerator gave an enumeration number, in this case 197, which was only to help him check the paperwork was correct and can otherwise be ignored.

"Court 10" may also be a temporary name given for the enumerator's benefit to a court which was normally called "Vicarage Cottages." The courts were often little more than a collection of inhabited buildings in what had once been the back yard of a house or business facing onto the road. Most were what we would now called slums - and have long been demolished and the site reused in some way. Sometimes the court would be named after the owner - and I suspect this is the case with "Gregory's Yard." People using the census are often confused because a court may well be given a different name in different censuses.

The first thing to do when you are trying to locate a census property is to look at the front of the census book where you will find a description of the area covered by the particular enumeration book.  In this case the description show that the enumeration area  ends with "... to Mr Upson No4 Church Street, the Vicarage, Free School and Courts No 10 and 12." This would suggest that "Vicarage Cottages" might well be a court associated with the Vicarage,

It is often possible to get the same information by simply looking at the pages on either side of the property you are interested in. In this case the situation is complicated because all that is shown between Mr Upson's house and Court 10 are three unoccupied houses where no-one was living on the night of the census. These unoccupied house may well have included the Vicarage and a house for the headmaster of the Free School.

For more information on relating census locations to maps see


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Have you found a mummified cat under your floorboards?

The next Hertfordshire Association for Local History meeting is to be held in Tewin Memorial Hall on Saturday, May 19th

Programme:

10.30 Doors open
11.00 Welcome
11.20 A series of talks by local history societies about their work and projects (Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon; Rickmansworth Historical Society; Tring Local History Society; Watford & District Industrial Society; Wheathampstead Pubs Research Project; Community Archives Project)
12.40 Readings from John Carrington's Diaries (vol. II)
13.00 Refreshments with the opportunity to visit St Peter's Church
13.45 HALH AGM with presentation of awards
14.15 The Lionel Munby Lecture: The Concealed-Revealed Project, Dr Ceri Houlbrook 
Admission is free for HALH members; £2 for visitors.

The lecture seems most interesting as when people renovate old houses they sometimes find items what were hidden - perhaps under the floor boards or up a chimney breast. These could be an odd shoe, a horse's skull or even a mummified cat. Dr Houlbrook will talk about some of the finds and is interested in folklore and the reasons why such items were hidden away. He is working on "The Concealed-Revealed Project" and if something unusual hidden object was found during renovation work on your old house he would be delighted to have details. 


.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ask a silly Question ? - Some unusual First World War Comic Cards

As part of my investigations into the short-lived Crown Publishing Co. of St Albans, and in particular the unusual cards by Karaktus I have been checking up on other comic cards published at about the same time which used a crown logo and which might represent the same company (and perhaps artist) before or after the short period in St Albans.

My attention was drawn to an artist who signed cards "Spatz." His cards had a crown on the back, and first appeared about 4 months before the first "crown" cards appeared in St Albans. So it was clearly worth investigating.

In fact it proved a false lead, and "Spatz" turned out to be a bank clerk living in Yorkshire who was called Fred Gothard. Fred later produced many First World War comic cards for the publishers E. Mack and/or J. Salmon cards signed ""F G". He also did some  WW1 cards for Tuck & Sons.

While these cards turn out to have nothing to do with Hertfordshire I know many who follow this blog are interested in the war - and might like to see some of the war work of a rather unconventional and less well-known comic artist.

Friday, May 4, 2018

"Votes for Women" activity in Hertfordshire in 1911.


I was interested to see that the British Newspaper Archive has digitized the paper "Votes for Women" and decide to a have a quick peek at what was going on in Hertfordshire. The following comes from a report of the Christmas Fair reported in the paper of 22 December 1911.

HERTFORDSHIRE STALL 
Sec, Mrs Impey, 2, Whlnbush Road, Hitchin, Herts
Lady Constance Lytton, general organiser of the Hertfordshire Stall writes :-  I wish to thank the many valiant workers who, as contributors of money or goods, as organisers, as sellers, or as patronesses, helped to make this scheme of a  county stall so great a success. Our actual takings amounted to £72 10s.1d. Many goods are being returned to the various districts to be disposed of at local sales, and there are still some promised money contributions, to be paid in. The seven county branches, St. Albans, Barnet, Chorley Wood, Hitchin, Knebworth and Kimpton. Letchworth, and Radlett, vied with each other in zeal and unremitting labours. Our sign was an exceptionally beautiful one. We were all proud of it and of the admiration it received. We offer our united thanks to Miss Woolnoth who, with the help of the St. Albans School of Art, carried out with such artstic power the county crest of " Hart-in-ford" with the "Home-Makers" symbol on the other side. We owe a very special debt of gratitude to our non. sec., Mrs. Impey, and to Miss Pam of who organised the daily arrangement  of the stall. From 8 o'clock on Monday morning till past 1 o'clock on Saturday night, they were in constant attendance throughout the week.  Unsold goods will be returned to local branchesas soon as possible. A committee meeting will be held early in January, if not before, to wind up financial and other arrangements. The growth of the W.S.F.U. in the county has been little short of miraculous during the year. Now the our treasuries will be replenished and that we have gained in courage and solidarity from the intercourse afforded by our joint stall, we may hope to extend organisations and strengthen their powers of service with double energy in 1912. I feel it an honour, as well as a great pleasure, to have had a share in this county scheme. Finally, we offer our thanks to many kind friends outside the county who helped us in various ways. 

Do you know of any stories which like the suffragette movement to Hertfordshire which would interest other readers?

Update of Pictures on Westmill (near Buntingford)

Following a query about this small village I have now added two new post card images showing the village of Westmill n the early part of the 20th century. In addition all post card images expand to 1024 pixels wide (or high) if you click on the small image on the village page.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Update on Ayot St Peter history and pictures

I recently discovered that there is an new site for the parish of Ayot St Peter which includes a number of interesting local history pages, which are planned to expand with time.

I have used the event to celebrate by upgrading my own Ayot Green and St Peter page, and introducing a new page for the church. As a result all the old postcard views (1 dozen of them - 2 of which are new to my site)  now expand to a 1024 pixel wide (or high) image if clicked. 

This is part of my plans in preparing the whole site for archive and if you are interested in any Hertfordshire village (or part of a town) and would like me to add large images from my own computer (but which I have not yet made available online) please let me know and I will give your suggested village priority in what is a long queue of potential upgrades.

In addition any corrections, new or updated links to other village, town, or society sites will be help me ensure that the final archive is of maximum value.

Photograph taken in Letchworth Garden City in about 1910?

In 2010 Keith asked if I could identify the above location in Letchworth Garden City which was believed to show a member of the Conder family in or near Paddock Close. At the time I suggested a location - and recently Pam has provided more information about the Conder family of Paddock Close. See full details.
Can anyone confirm my original suggestion - either by comparision with other old photographs - or by visiting the site and taking a picture of what is there now?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

I've been on a very special holiday in Devon

Bovey Castle
Our bedroom was in the first floor window overlooking the eagle.
For my 80th birthday my son decided to treat us to a stay at a luxury hotel in Devon, a few miles from where my wife and I had grown up as children. Bovey Castle is situated in an attractive wooded Dartmoor valley with gardens running down to the River Bovey and is a good place to relax away from the worries of the outside world - as it is so sheltered that mobile phones do not work (but if you are desperate to keep in touch there is WiFi).

The service and food was everything you would expect from a top hotel and it was a pleasant place to relax, wandering round the grounds, having a cream tea in comfortable arm chairs by a log fire, and bathing in the elegant indoor swimming pool. The hotel comes with an 18 hole golf course and other activities available included an introduction to fly fishing, feeding the deer, archery, air rifle shooting and cider and sloe gin making. However we only attended the falconry display as we had planned our own tour of the Dartmoor - and I had a special reason (see later blog post) to take the family to an Indian Restaurant in Newton Abbot. In addition we took the opportunity to meet up with some old friends before we returned home.

While there I took a whole series of photographs of the building, the gardens and the garden ornaments and posted them on Geograph, as a record of the place. The place is well worth a visit and details are available on their web site.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Archiving Herfordshire Local History web sites and the Wayback Machine


I have just been asked about saving the "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" web site on the Wayback machine - and I have recently been involved in discussions within the Tring Local History Society about consolidation various Tring local history digital records to ensure that they remain accessible when the current owners are no longer in a position to support them. This suggests that it might be appropriate to try and develop a county wide policy for archiving the scattered web sites of local historians and societies. However for the moment I will just say a little about the Wayback Machine and how it relates to my web site..

www.hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk  has been automatically monitored by the Wayback Machine since 2000 and pages have been captured on 248 occasions. The first pages captured are from 2000 - when it was a bulletin board - but on retrieving them you only get the page framework and the actual bulletin posts, which contain the historical information, are missing.

The site "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" that most people are familiar with, started in April 2001 and a check shows that several extensive snapshots of the site were taken then. I have looked at the later April archive and clicked through a number of pages - and it is possible that the whole site has been recorded as it was originally created. A similar very limited spot check in November 2001 failed to reveal any missing pages.

A check at the end of 2005 showed that while many pages were present, sections such as the pages containing a copy of the the booklet "Tring in 1947" were missing. On the other hand my WW1 talk on "The Terriers in West Herts" appears to be present, and possibly complete. It is clear that Wayback was only archiving a sample of the pages at this date.

By 2010 Wayback was only visiting the site about 4 times a year - and a check shows the Home page with the picture missing. However a quick check showed it was possible to follow some of the menus and interestingly the "Tring in 1947" pages were now accessible, so may have been archived between 2005 and 2010..

There has only been 1 snapshot in 2018, up to the end of March. The main entry page has two pictures missing but it is definitely possible to navigate through parts of the site. However it looks as is there is a limit to the depth of nesting of links and most of the pages and pictures relating to my recent research on the St Albans post card artist signing his name Karaktus had not been archived. I also suspect that many other pages, which were archived years ago, may not show recent updates. Two links on the home page are interesting. The link to the "Hertfordshire News" blog takes you to an archive copy of the blog (sampled 17 times since 2013). The link to "A Guide to Old Hertfordshire" took ages to load the google map, and if you click on a flag on the map it appeared to take you to the correct page - but it was NOT an archived page but the current live page!

The above observations fit in with what I have found, over the years, when looking for local history sites which had suddenly gone offline for some reason.In some case this was because the author/owner had died and the ISP subscription had lapsed, and in other cases the local history pages had been part of a bigger site, perhaps run by a parish council or a church, where the site had been "brought up to date" and the pages of historic information lost when the new version of the site was introduced.

In fact the Wayback machine can be asked to archive single web pages and a test this afternoon recorded one page where only the text and some of the pictures had been archived in March. The page is now on the Wayback machine - with all the pictures - but none of the links to supporting pages have been followed up and archived. This seems a good way to archive single stand alone pages - each of which will have a unique permanent URL. However over the next few weeks I will do some tests, followed up by retrieval requests a few days later, on some of the missing parts of my web site and report on the results.

In addition Wayback also offer a subscription archiving service which will regularly scan and update the archives of selected web sites. This seems to be aimed at major libraries and Universities - for instance to archive web sites linked to particular research projects - and would not appear to be suitable for use by large numbers of individual local historians. However it might be possible to co-ordinate web activities across the county - with one organisation (perhaps HALS?) being responsible for selecting what local sites to archive.

Any ideas anyone???? - Comments would be helpful.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

New and bigger post card views of High Cross and Colliers End

Multiview post card of High Cross
When this site is mothballed it will still be available online, but higher resolution images will no longer be supplied on request. Anticipating this change all post card images for High Cross (11) and Colliers End (6) now give a 1024 pixel wide image on clicking. Two new view cards have been added.

Links to:   High Cross     Colliers End

I have also added a lengthy press account of the dedication of St Mary's, Colliers End.
Colliers End

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Book Review - Notes on Old Chipperfield

The Two Brewers (Locke & Smith)
Helen Gordon Liddle was a suffragette who wrote The Prisoner: A Sketch. An Experience of Forceable Feeding by a Suffragette. Some time later (if you have details please comment below) it seems she moved to Chipperfield, near Kings Langley, and wrote a most interesting local History Notes on Old Chipperfield

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Watford Photographers - Dating early photographs and post cards

Unknown school photograph by J. Russell of Watford circa 1910
By Basebe & Son
circa 1910
I have just had a query about Watford photographers but unfortunately it was sent via an anonymous comment on this Newsletter - which means I cannot reply directly. Instead I post below a list of all the pages on the main web site which currently relate to Watford photographers and post card publishers. The names in larger print are ones which are known to have taken portraits or group photographs. In general the rest are only known to me because they have published post card views.

 7th Battalion, 2nd London Division, taken by Harry Cull, Watford, probably in 1914
The above pages are all part of the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site which, for technical reasons, will be moving shortly into full archive mode. This means the information will still be available online, but it will be impractical to add more information.There are a number of pages which clearly could benefit with an update (more sample pictures/backs and biographical information needed) Fortunately there is still time to add more information - making the archive  more useful in future.

Note that this study only covers Victorian photographers and up to the end of the First World War and later pictures are not of interest

If you can help by sending me examples of named Watford photographers' work (digital images of the picture AND the back) together with any supporting information I may be able to approximately date it and use it to illustrate the work of the photographer. (While I will not be able to identify portraits an approximate date could well help you to work out who it might be.)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Update of of Information on 20th century Cemeteries

In 2007 I gave some advice on Burials in Stevenage in the 20th Century and included a web address which I now discover has been changed - and I have updated the link on my site accordingly. Jeff Knaggs' web site now contains memorial stone lists for the following cemeteries:
  • Knebworth Cemetery
  • Almonds Lane Cemetery, Stevenage
  • Weston Road Cemetery, Stevenage
  • St Mary's Church and Churchyard, Shephall, Stevenage
  • Welwyn Cemetery
  • Woolmer Green churchyard

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Safeguarding the Family Treasures

Sad family news makes one think of the past and look back at the family treasure that have ended up in your custody. One of my first cousins, Helen Heini nee Clarke (1929-2018) has just died and I had planned to attend the funeral tomorrow, but unfortunately the current snow means I will not be going.

Instead I will be looking at this lovely hand-made album which was presented to my grandparents, Walter and Bertha Locke when they celebrated their Diamond Wedding on 15th July 1955. When it was made all their family got together and it contains a wealth of family photographs, the earliest taken in 1868 showing Walter as a baby with his parents and 11 siblings. This is unfortunately a rather fuzzy copy of the original but the copy of the whole family in Aylesbury in 1883 is far clearer and I have
put a copy of it on the "Ancestor" pages of my web site. While I have recorded the names of everyone in the picture I am not always certain which is which but hope to add that information later.

John and Caroline Locke and their 12 surviving children in 1883 (Click for their names and dates)
Yesterday I produced a digital copy of the album and started to document it, so that multiple copies can go to interested members of the family. In a few cases I may have better images and I definitely have other family pictures which are not in the album which I can add to the digital file.

So I echo my previous message, How Family History gets lost. If you have any unique photographs or documents that represent the history of your family - now is the time to ensure that the information they contain is properly recorded in a way that preserves it for future generations of family historians..

Sunday, February 25, 2018

How Family History gets lost - The example of the Horn Family of Handside, Hatfield


Why am I starting with a post card of Ramsgate Harbour - when Ramsgate is clearly not in Hertfordshire?



In trying to identify Karaktus (the St Albans comic card artist) I have been researching the history of The London View Company which started publishing view cards of seaside resort along the South coast of England. I purchased this card because of the early date and the format of the back - which suggests that the London View Company was using a different printer. At the time I made the purchase I totally ignored the handwriting

That is until the card (and a similar one being sold at the same time) arrived in the post and I realized that both cards were addressed to Mrs S. Horn, of Handside, Hatfield, Herts.  But Mrs Sarah Horn, of Handside Farm is already featured on this web site:
William James & Sarah Horn of Handeside Farm
See HORN, Handside Welwyn/Hatfield, 19th century
Sarah was born Sarah Cox and is a cousin of mine, the common ancestor being Thomas Cox (1794-1874). I have no reference to her being connected to 22 Ridgemont Road, St Albans, but note that Ridgemont road is already  briefly mentioned on this web site in a different context. The message on the card starts "Dear C S" - presumably for "Dear Cousin Sarah" and is signed "J H", the other card addressed to Handside being signed "Jack". But who was cousin Jack?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

1909 failure of a publisher of Hertfordshire postcards

Chester Vaughan was a photographic printer based in Acton, Middlesex, which published many view postcards covering the South East of England, including a number of places in the south of Hertfordshire in 1903-5. Following a recent email  I decided to update a draft page of his views - and find out what happened to the firm.

The above advert, from 1909, suggests Chester Vaughan suffered the same fate as many other companies which were involved in what is often referred to as the "Golden Age"" of post cards. Unfortunately the advert does not quantify the "large quantity of picture postcards" but it is likely to be much larger than the number of view negatives and the problem may well be over-optimistic print runs ending up with unsold stock.

A Chester Vaughan Series view of Lululand, Bushey


Friday, February 23, 2018

Karaktus, the mysterious St Albans comic artist, has finally been identified

"Karaktus" was a St Albans based comic artist whose pseudomym was presumably based on the Caractacus who ruled in Hertfordshire when the Roman arrived nearly 2000 years ago.

The cards were published by the very short-lived Crown Publishing Co of St Albans in 1908/9, together with some other unsigned cards, believed to be by him, which I have identified as being by an artist who signed many of his cards "F. S.," 


These were published by another short-lived company - The London View Co. Ltd, which I already knew because they had published a number of view cards of Watford.


But who was
"F. S." ?  

In the post card literature some people were saying hewas an artist called Fred Stone, who published some cards around 1905 while others argued that he was Fred Spurgin, whose name stared to appear on cards in 1910 and produced many in the First World War and the 1920s.

Trying to sort things out involved looking as thousands of card images and I set up a draft catalogue to record them, and my research notes - and put them online so that others could comment. Several weeks ago, based in part on information from past auction sales, I have come to agree with one of the relevant post card collectors that all the cards were produced by Fred Spurgin who worked using a number of names, starting with Fred Stone.


The research has provided a lot of information of how the post card industry worked in the early days of the 20th century - with many short-lived companies going out of business despite the overall boom in the number of cards being posted. Further postings on this subject are planned.