We couldn’t really look at postcards of the Great War without including Old Bill, now could we?
Old Bill was Bruce Bairnsfather’s best known character, and unsurprisingly he soon found himself on postcards, as did many other of Bairnsfather’s cartoons. This card, and that below, the only two original Bairnsfather cards that I own, were sent by one Alf Langstaff to his wife in Ontario – note the stamp of the Orderly Room of 160th Canadian Infantry Battalion.
Bairnsfather’s first cartoon had been published in the Bystander magazine in March 1915, and before long he had become so popular that not only did Bystander put him on an exclusive contract, they published forty three of his cartoons in a single publication entitled ‘Fragments from France’ (it sold 250,000 copies at a shilling each, and was the first of an eventual seven volumes), and inevitably postcards soon followed. Again using the ‘Fragments from France’ title, nine sets of six cards were produced, printed in sepia on a special type of soft card.
Note that there’s nearly a month between the two postmarks, so presumably it took a month to get post from France to Canada. Incidentally, many years ago now, we visited the site of the dugout where Bairnsfather first created Old Bill, and you can take a look here should you wish.