How sweet fair Lichfield…
To look at us, you wouldn’t think that we were into deltiology, but then, you never can tell. Our particular area of interest is topographical (or “topo” as it’s known in postcard fairs across the land) and we now have a small, burgeoning collection of Lichfield views. An extremely small sub-division of our Lichfield topographical postcard collection is what is known as HTL or “Hold-to-Light” postcards (also sometimes called Transparencies), and we wanted to share a particularly fine example of a Lichfield Cathedral HTL with you right now.
This charming card showing the West front of the Cathedral bears the rhyme “How sweet fair Lichfield, when the day is done/Gilt with the glory of the setting sun”. When you hold it up to the light, all the windows and the moon seem to glow against the dark silhouette of the Cathedral in a fashion not unlike the real thing. According to Picture Postcards of the Golden Age: A Collector’s Guide (by Tonie and Valmai Holt), most HTLs seem to have been made in Berlin for export to Great Britain, and were made by a firm with the initials W.H.(though ours has no printer’s mark).
Of course, the thing about postcards is that the back is often just as interesting as the front. Ours is postmarked Stourbridge 1905, but a bit of detective work suggests that the postcard is likely to have been printed around 1902/3. The lady correspondent (Flo) seems to have had particularly foul weather in the Midlands: “How is the weather over your way?” she asks. “It is awful here; rained all day yesterday and nearly all day today. It has thundered and lightened [sic] very severely also.”
Two things that we’ve learned from topographical deltiology is that a) people talked a lot about the weather and b) people invariably got rained on in Lichfield. But it’s a valley after all – what did they expect?
This post first appeared on the Beacon Street Blog in September 2011.