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Here’s an interesting winter-themed card, showing women skate-sailing on Blair’s Lake, a small lake on the outskirts of Amherst, Nova Scotia (it looks like they could use a bit more wind!) As we quickly learn from Edwardian postcards, Canadians of the time — men and women alike — were up for just about any sort of sporting activity in wintertime, no matter how absurd!

Amherst, Nova Scotia postcard

Skate Sailing at Blair’s Lake, dated March 20, 1906.

Reverse of the Blair’s Lake “Private Mailing Card”, printed by Black Printing Co., Ltd., of Amherst.

The interest of the card extends beyond the image. For one thing, the card stock is coloured on the reverse but plain on the picture side, an unusual and (one imagines) costly effect that definitely lends the card a touch of class — offsetting the limitations of the half-tone image.

As noted, the printer was Black Printing Co., Ltd., of Amherst. Postcard aficionados will also note the non-compliant “PRIVATE MAILING CARD” title, a designation that was required under U.S. law between 1899 and 1901 but wholly improper under Canadian postal regulations. I have seen U.S. wording on Canadian postcards before, but not, to the best of my recollection, on a back that was clearly printed in Canada rather than having been imported from the U.S. Other examples of this kind would be interesting to see.

“PRIVATE POST CARD” was the Canadian standard established (as Steinhart tells us) in the Official Postal Guide as of December 29, 1894. The card itself was posted in 1906, long after plain old “POST CARD” had become the norm in both countries.

[Andrew Cunningham]


As per the comments below, Harry Holman sends us this PEI card, produced by P. D. Ayer of Moncton, N.B., that also has a “Private Mailing Card” back:

Welcome to Prince Edward Island”

Reverse of the card, with the PRIVATE MAILING CARD design from P. D. Ayer & Co.

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  1. I have a Saint John NB card from the series numbered (24), again to the left of the caption, “Suspension Bridge, St. John, N.B.” It is postmarked 2 Feb 1906. In my opinion, the number on the cards can only be a card number within a series of, at least, fifty cards.

    • Card Talk Editor

      Yes, I agree. It seems to be a rather scarce series. I have nos. 6, 30 and 50 — keep looking for more but they don’t show up often. (Andrew Cunningham)

  2. I just checked my collection and it turns out that I also have no (6) which is “Highland View Hospital, Amherst, N.S.”, so it appears that there was a series of at least 50 cards in this style. (Andrew)

  3. Perhaps not so rare after all. I have a series of PEI cards published by P.D. Ayer of Moncton, all of which have the Private Mailing Card label. I will send a scan directly to you as it is not clear how images can be appended to REPLYS.

  4. I just spotted another Black Printing card with the coloured back – “Cape Tormentine Breakwater” from a private collection on-line
    This time there is no number on the front.

  5. I am interested in the “(50)” to the left of the title on the card. If this is a card number it suggests that Black Printing had an extensive series of cards at this early date. On the other hand the number may have some other meaning such as the size of the press run. Any collectors of Black Printing who could shed some light on the matter?

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