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searching for a stamp...

The Phantom's Postcard Tour continues...
a few European treasures

This summer we're taking a break from our tour of the United States to wander through Europe. As I sorted through the Phantom's postcard collection, I came upon several old European cards, some dated as early as the late 1800's, so I've decided to share them with you. 

We'll start in Gibraltar around the turn of the 20th century. Notice the woman tourist in her long skirt in this very old painted postcard. 

Our next stop is Paris! What follows is a message that was written in a very small hand onto the back of an old postcard of Notre Dame. As I  tried to decipher it, I was surprised by many things this young lady alludes to. First of all, she was traveling unchaperoned -- in 1905 -- with several other young ladies. AND, they had been away from home for many months. Her note to Miss Austin sounds suspiciously  like it might have been addressed to a favorite teacher. It seems affectionate, yet sort of formal, as though she was trying to convince Miss Austin that they were indeed learning something about Europe, while having lots of innocent fun... 

Dear Miss Austin     Paris
, July 31, 1905           

This is just a note – because I never am in a letter writing mood nowadays. But want to send you more than a postcard for once to keep my poor memory green. We have been in Paris over nine good weeks. So happy. Though these past three weeks Polly and I have been alone here, at the girls club. While Lois and O’Marg are in Switzerland . One voice more in a couple of days. I shall be so glad to be altogether again. Then we go to Germany and then to England , then home. Sailing from Dover Oct. 8 on the Patricia-Haverberg. Good times as we have had - you can perhaps argue how we look on the top of our omnibus – or on top of the Notre Dame or walking along the quad or in the Luxembourg Gardens. Paris is more lovely than ever – that is I love it more than ever. I think it’s really as beautiful in the winter as any time. We have had delightful day excursions to the country. I love the French country with devotion. Partly perhaps because to find it is like Minnesota country in coloring and contour. Yesterday, Sunday, we went out with a delightful lady to the banks of the Marne, and strolled and watched all the pleasant Parisians wrapped up nevertheless their pleasant simple ways – in more kinds of watercraft for instance never are seen at White Bear; built for pleasure, or for exercise, or for sport or other purposes or perhaps as unknown & no craft. Also Lois sends her love - Jane

(Ha! Jane simply couldn't have known that her message to Miss Austin would appear on a website nearly a hundred years later to be read by 1000s of surfers around the world.)

Here's a lovely old tinted postcard of Notre Dame, during the time our correspondent was in Paris. People often placed the stamp onto the picture side of the card. 

Notre Dame
And here's another postcard of Notre Dame photographed from the other side. It's rare these days to see so few people visiting this area. Wouldn't it be fun to be the only tourists in Paris. What a thought.

boat trip - brrrr
And then a riverboat trip is in order... can't you just feel the chill in the air?

postcard to a friend - moto bene!
On to Italy, famous for their beautiful cartolinas. Here's one that was written in 1911. I have no idea what the message says, but the handwriting seems so passionate, almost like poetry. Often postcard messages are truly mundane, but once in a while they tell us secrets about strangers -- very voyeuristic, don't you think?

Firenze's famous Ponte Vecchio on the Arno River -- one of the most famous bridges of all. These days tourists flock there to check out  the fabulous jewelry stores that line the bridge. Just one of the attractions of Florence. Makes me want to go shopping.

And finally, here another one from Firenze. The message on the back of this card reads:

This is the statue of Duke Ferdinand -- the statue which inspired (Robert) Browning's poem "The Statue and the Bust." We are told that this bust is a figment of the poet's fancy. But the statue  still occupies the centre of the square. The buildings form a quadrangle, and the lady might have looked out from any of many windows as the duke rode past.

Sometimes postcard senders cannot resist the opportunity to teach us some lesson about the local culture. And there's plenty to be learned in Florence. Dream on...

Please join the Phantom  as our virtual tour of the US continues. So far, our tour includes the following states:

California, Oregon, Washington,
Alaska, Hawaii
, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Texas, and Massachusetts.

Stay with us as we visit all of the United States, 
and who knows where next...

American Black Bear Postcards
Backs of the postcards
Cruising, 1970s style

Couples: rules to live by
Dangerous postcard animals
Dear Diary: Italy again
Driving the I-95  (text by Johnna Kaplan)
Favorite animal postcards
Not sure I'd want to see this
Old Hawaii
Old Motels

Other People's Vacations
Places I'd like to Visit

Postcard recipes
Side trip to Europe!
Spring in the Desert
Ugly Postcard Tour
Where My Friends Went, part 2, part 3
World Tour
The 50 State Quick Tour

Diannek, clevermag's editor, 
is affectionately known as
the Phantom to friends and family.


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