A Very Rare Set of Twenty Unused Blackface 'Minstrel' Postcards


Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1900-10
Height: 3.6 inches
Width: 5.6 inches

The series of twenty blackface postcards of children acting and posing in different settings, postally unused and in good condition with only light creasing. Verso, the cards are all clean and show the standard postcard, communication and address headings.

Showing twenty theatrical ensembles depicting a plethora of scenes from the beach, the courtroom, the zoo, the bedroom, the smoking room, the timber yard, at work, at play, on the road and at sea. Amongst the fourteen children used throughout there is also an anthropomorphic bear present in some scenes, merely adding to the bizarre and off-key feel. One can imagine the organisation and direction levels needed to stage these scenes were quite high, and we know they are English as the street themed cards show road signs for Devon and London.

It is unusual to find a set of these cards still together, especially being English, with more examples found across the pond in the USA. Almost certainly, American producers would have used African Americans, but in England models would have been 'blacked up' to produce these 'humorous' cards. Whilst we find these cards very non 'PC', in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, and indeed up until the 1920s, this was considered the norm. Now very scarce, this set provides us with a very important, albeit ugly, insight into social history at the turn of the century.

Falling into a very niche area of collecting, and so horribly politically incorrect, this set remains simply fascinating and proves a scarce find just one hundred years on from their conception.