MISS WINIFRED EMERY : AN ENGLISH “STAGE FAVOURITE”

Miss Winifred Emery (1861-1924) is the subject of this vintage real photo postcard. She was an English actress and actor-manager during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was married to actor Cyril Maude (m. 1888). It is not hard to imagine that the fact that she was born into a family of actors, played a role in her career choice. She began as a child actress and during the 1880’s and 1890’s her career blossomed as she played many leading roles in London’s West End theatres. Interestingly, her first London appearance was in 1874 in the pantomime,”Beauty and the Beast”. She later joined Marie Litton’s company, Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s theatre company, Henry Irving’s theatre company, and Wilson Barrett’s company. She eventually started her own touring theatre company with her husband. In 1896, her husband became actor-manager of the Haymarket Theatre and Emery became his leading lady. Among the plays that Emery appeared in are number of productions of Shakespeare. Emery had a successful stage career that spanned over forty years. This postcard was published circa 1910 by Raphael Tuck & Sons’ as part of the “Stage Favourites” Series (No. 5062). The photographer of this portrait of Miss Emery was Alexander Bassano, a very respected celebrity photographer. (SOLD)

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A DUSKY BEAUTY : MISS AIDA OVERTON WALKER

The subject of this vintage real photo postcard is Miss Aida Overton Walker. The caption above her name refers to her as “A Dusky Beauty”. Seems like a racist title to me. I don’t recall ever seeing its equivalent, “A Pasty Beauty”, on a portrait of a white female performer. Aida Overton Walker (1880-1914) was known as “The Queen of the Cakewalk”. She was African-American and an American vaudeville performer, singer, actress, and choreographer. She has been called the most famous African American female performer of the early twentieth century. She was married in 1899 to vaudeville performer, George Walker. Aida and her husband performed with the highly successful Bert Williams. They were the major black vaudeville and musical comedy act of the era. She was also a solo dancer and choreographer for a number of other vaudeville shows. Aida was well known for her 1912 performance of the ”’salome” dance. Aida was born in Richmond, Virginia and moved to New York City when she was young. She was educated there and received a great deal of musical training. When she was fifteen years old she joined the “Octoroons”, a black touring group. In 1900 she gained national notice with her performance of  “Miss Hannah from Savannah” in the play, “Sons of Ham”.  The song became a major hit. Overton Walker had significant theatrical success with her performances in Dahomey (1902), Abyssinia (1906), and Bandana Land (1908). Overall, Aida was praised by critics and fellow performers. She was financially successful. In 1908 she retired to care for her ill husband. In 1910 she returned to the stage as a solo act. In 1911, her husband died. By 1912, she was on tour again. That same year, she performed on Broadway as Salome. In 1914, Walker died suddenly from kidney failure. Two years before her death, she was performing in white variety theaters. She and Bert Williams were the only Black performers “permitted” to do so. At that time, African Americans were expected to confine themselves to “lower” entertainment such as comedy and ragtime. “High” art, like dramatic theater and classical dance were reserved for whites. Aida helped break that racist tradition. During her career, Aida addressed the issue of racial relations. She stated in an article in “The Colored American Magazine (1905), her view that that the performing arts could have a beneficial effect on race relations. Walker asserted “I venture to think and dare to state that our profession does more toward the alleviation of color prejudice than any other profession among colored people.” She also worked to improve working conditions, and to expand roles for black women on the stage. During the period Walker was performing, female actresses, especially black actresses, were seen as “immoral and oversexed”. Aida wrote “a woman does not lose her dignity…when she enters stage life”. Walker also worked to develop the talents of younger black performers within the framework of refinement and elegance. In 1908, she began organizing benefits to assist such causes as the Industrial Home for Colored Working Girls. This vintage postcard was published by Raphael Tuck, of Paris, France. The photographer of Miss Walker was Cavendish Morton (1874-1939). The National Portrait Gallery possesses 104 of Morton’s portraits. Morton had several careers including electrical engineering, architecture, acting, illustrating, and in the 1890’s he took up photography. He is known for his theatrical photo portraits. His son was a well known watercolor artist. This postcard was postmarked in 1908, The postcard is in good condition. See the youtube video below. It is a tribute to Aida Overton Walker. 

 

Buy this original Vintage Real Photo Postcard (includes shipping within the US) #2841

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$38.50

Buy this original Vintage Real Photo Postcard (includes International shipping outside the US) #2841

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$47.00

FIVE PORTRAITS OF BEAUTIFUL STAGE ACTRESS ALICE CRAWFORD (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARDS)

crawfordPHOTO 1  (SOLD)

alice crawford         PHOTO 2  (SOLD)

crawford 2 PHOTO 3  (SOLD)

crawford 4  PHOTO 4

alice crawford

POSTCARD 5

These vintage real photo postcards feature a beautiful actress named Alice Crawford (1882-1931). Miss Crawford was born in Bendigo, Australia. Her sister, Ruby Crawford was also an actress. Miss Crawford came to England with actor Wilson Barret in 1902 after appearing with him in Australia. Her London debut was in 1902 in in the play “The Christian”.  She was in the revival of the play in 1907. Other stage credits include “Antony and Cleopatra (1906), Matt of Merrymount (1908), and “The Passing of the Third Floor, Back” (1908). The New York Times (1909) announced her arrival in New York to perform in “These Are My People”. She is credited with film roles in “False Ambition” (1918) and Glorious Adventure (1922). There are fifteen portraits of Alice Crawford in the National Portrait Gallery, eight of which are by the photographer of the top photo postcard (Alexander Bassano}. Bassano  (1829 –1913) was a leading royal and high society photographer in Victorian London. Crawford was married to George Valentine Williams. He was wounded twice in WW I and was awarded the Military Cross. He later worked as a journalist, mostly in trouble spots. During WW2 he conducted “confidential work” for the British Government. He is best known as an author of Detective Fiction. He died in 1946. This postcard captures Miss Crawford in costume for her role as “Diantha Frothingham” in “Matt of Merrymount” (1908). Alice Crawford certainly qualifies as a “stage beauty” and she has an amazingly engaging smile. Bassano photographed the actress for Rotary Photo’s, Rotary Photographic Series (no.1852 R).                                      

The second photo postcard features Miss Crawford looking quite beautiful. Her hair is long and flowing and she has a flower hair band. Her eyes are beautiful and she appears to be holding back a smile. Like the first postcard, this card is also published by Rotary Photo and was part of a series (no. 1852 K). In fact both postcards seen here are part of the same series.  The postcard’s photograph was taken by the Dover Street Studio.  The studio was active between circa 1906 and circa 1912. The gallery specialized in taking theatrical portraits and was located in London, England. They were the successors to the Biograph Studios as well Adart (a studio that took advertising photos). Examination of the reverse of this postcard (see second postcard below) reveals that it was postmarked in 1907. The message on the back of the postcard is quite interesting because it contains comments about the photo on the postcard. The writer reports that she was charmed by a postcard from the addressee and she asks her how she likes “this one”. The writer also states that she was planning to go see “The Thief” at the St. James Theater. Billboard (1907) contains a review of the musical and describes it as an English version of Henry Bernstein’s “Le Voleur”.  The play was produced by Mr George Alexander and it’s cast included Mr. Alexander, Irene Vanbrugh, and Lillian Braithwaite. 

The third photo postcard portrait of Miss Crawford was produced by Rotary Photo and photographed by Dover Studios. The postcard was part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no.1852 P) and was printed in England. This photograph captures Alice Crawford appearing quite dismayed.

The fourth real photo postcard in this collection features a close-up portrait of Miss Crawford. This image confirms that Alice Crawford was certainly a stage beauty. The photograph is very similar to the second postcard in this group and the two images were likely taken during the same photo session at the Dover Street Studio. This postcard was published by Raphael Tuck and Sons and is part of the “Celebrities of the Stage” series (no. T 1148). Raphael Tuck and his wife started their photography business in 1866 in London. Their store sold pictures, greeting cards, and in time, postcards. Their success came from the sale of postcards during the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. In the early 1900’s the firm conducted postcard competitions for collectors of Tuck postcards. These competitions offered cash prizes and they were very popular. The winner of one of these competitions had a collection consisting of over twenty-five thousand cards. Three of Tuck’s four sons participated in the business. The company was devastated by German bombing during World War II. In 1959 the company merged with two other printing companies. This postcard was written and postmarked in 1908. It was postmarked at Bradninch, England. The message on the card is a “Happy Birthday” wish.

The fifth photo postcard features a close-up view of Miss Crawford. She looks pretty with her rolled curl hair and her engaging eyes. This postcard was published by Raphael Tuck and Sons. It is part of the “Celebrities of the Stage”  series (no. T 1202).

crawford 2 1

crawford 4 1                                                                        POSTCARD 4

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                                                                        POSTCARD 5