Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Progress report, and some news

Two more pages have been completed, which is why the "*" has now disappeared from the associated links on the left. "Greetings" Set includes examples of all the Fergus Mackain festive illustrations published by Savigny in both long (10) and short (8) sets. This page took a little longer to construct as it includes a detailed table of all known permutations of captions and banners. Emphasis on "known" because it is very possible there are some Greetings cards that have not yet been identified (and so if you spot any errors or omissions, please do let us know). Hopefully this information will be helpful for Mackain collectors.

Somewhat simpler was The Cheerful Tommy, published by Gaultier as a short set of six cards. Many thanks to collector Marika Pirie for providing examples of all six cards. Usefully, Marika's complete set contains used cards that were all written with a message for home within days of each other by the same soldier. In the absence of numbering or a helpful wrapper, this is the best indication to date that these are the same six cards advertised on the Tommy's Life cover wrapper.

On the subject of used cards, if you haven't read it already, Marika's introduction to this blog does a great job connecting Mackain's cards to the very human experiences of the soldiers who purchased and wrote on them, providing a glimpse into their state of mind. For example, Marika writes:
Standing out from the usual patriotic type with fearless heroes, as produced in quantity by other artists, another drawing showed Tommy behind a row of sandbags. The caption was: “Waiting for the barrage to lift. It makes you feel small and sort of lost!” (Up the line – No. 8). Before Tommy is a fierce bombardment, shells flying, explosions and destruction. Mackain has coloured the card with muted colours – pinkish sandbags, orange red flames, and a bright blue sky. This soldier stares bewildered into the face of the recipient of the postcard. The sender has marked his name on the back of the card, S. W. Doney, and just one word - France.
Staying on this subject, the table "Earliest and Latest Known Dates of Use" has been updated. There are still quite a few gaps, so please let us know if you have any cards with dates on them before or after the ones in the table, whether they were handwritten, or stamped by the Army Post Office.

The website First World War Postcards has very kindly added a link to this blog from their Fergus Mackain page, and as a result traffic to FMSketches has increased, so it seems only appropriate to return the favor.

Speaking of traffic, in the last month visitors have been landing at FMSketches from all over the world, notably: Canada; UK, USA, Austria, New Zealand, France, and Germany. It's very exciting to know that there is global interest in Fergus Mackain and his cards. If you'd like to be notified of updates, a gadget has been added to the right of the web page so that you can receive email notifications or subscribe to changes. 

Last but definitely not least, one reader from the UK sent in a previously unknown Fergus Mackain card, which will be included in a future post. One of the primary goals for this site is to locate and catalog rare Mackain cards, so we are truly grateful when this kind of thing happens!

Regards to all, and stay warm!


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