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Views Of London
( Article Originally Published January 1963 )
"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life: for there is in London all that life can afford." These words were written by Dr. Samuel Johnson, the 18th century lexicographer.
Although the city does not contain all that this broad statement claims for it, London can provide a wealth of interesting post card views. There are so many beautiful, ancient, historic, impressive, and curious sights that the deltiologist can really build a sizable collection.
Many specialized collectors are particularly interested in cards of English royalty and they overlook the numerous city views available.
Royalty is another subject and can be covered in another article at a later time, but for now let us look at the city views of London of a half century ago.
When one thinks of England and post cards at the same time, he thinks of Raphael Tuck and Sons, or Valentine. These two publishers are well represented in my collection.
But the cards used to illustrate this article were all published by a lesser known publisher, E. Gordon Smith, and I think they are some of the best early colored views I have seen.
This publisher seems to have covered London quite thoroughly. There are views of practically every bridge,building, park, important monument, and historic site in the city.
The street scenes are of special interest because they show the early modes of transportation and the styles of the day. One card shown here pictures an English "Bobby" stopping a line of traffic on a busy London street.
The exact location of the traffic jam is not mentioned in the caption on the card, it merely says: "Holding Up the Traffic, London." It shows early cars, doubledeck busses, and bicycles.
Another view here is of Hyde Park, London, picturing several horsedrawn carriages, and not one car, although the card seems to be of the same period.
Other cards of interest to those looking f o r transportation items, are views of the Royal Exchange, Leicester Square, Law Courts and Temple Bar, and the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Hall.
Also a top attraction is Buckingham Palace. Built in 1703 by John Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire, it was first used as a royal residence by Queen Victoria.
It is now the London home of Queen Elizabeth. An early card shows a throng of people gathered in front of the palace gates in hopes of catching a glimpse of the royal family.
A sight that attracts the visitor to London more than any other is the "Changing of the Guard." One view shows this event at close range. Another view shows the Horse Guards after they have been posted.
These two horse guards are posted every day from 10 to 4 p.m. The ceremony dates back to 1753.
For those who like church cards or architecture this series includes views of Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church, Westminster Cathedral and St. Paul's Cathedral. A general view of London showing St. Paul's Cathedral is shown here.
There is a view of the Tower of London, which was built for William the Conqueror in 1078. This ancient Norman Castle has seen most of London's history.
Through the years it has served as both a palace and a prison. It was here that such notables as Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and the pathetic and talented Lady Jane Grey were beheaded.
Other views not shown of this London series include The Old Curiosity Shop, immortalized by Charles Dickens; Trafalgar Square, named for Lord Nelson's great naval victory, featuring the 185-foot Nelson Monument; Waterloo Bridge and Somerset House; Albert Memorial, and Queen Victoria Memorial Archway.
Mansion House and Cheapside is included here but Aldwych from the Strand, and the exterior and interior views of the Royal Albert Hall, where concerts and entertainments on a large scale are held, could not be shown.
In addition to these, there are many other interesting views, too numerous to mention.
A collection of London views will delight the average deltiologist and armchair traveler. You can gain a tremendous store of knowledge by studying post views of the great cities, of the world.