Thursday, 24 October 2013

A Sanbride postcard

The origin of this type of fairly uncommon postcards was obscured until recently. By using a series of cross references, I am now able to shed some light on it.

Coloured North Borneo postcards of this period are not common. The colour was either added by hand before printing or in this case actual colour plates were used. We have an attractive scene here of the crossing of the Padas River at Beaufort by boat and ferry. The figures in white wearing a hat or settling under an umbrella were most probably Europeans in positions of importance in government or employed by the plantations.
For information of those times, I would suggest reading the first 2 chapters of Oscar Cook's book "Borneo. The stealer of hearts". He was assistant district officer in nearby Tenom.

It was posted from Jesselton but the date is not clear except for the year of 1919. There is an arrival cds for Cheltenham of 3 JA 1920. There is also a hand written date of 21/11/19. The exciting bit is that this is a San Bride postcard as seen by the words at the bottom of the logo. San Bride postcards of North Borneo can be regarded as very uncommon.
A member of our society based in Sabah has seen similar cards of Jesselton, Papar, Beaufort shop houses, Labuan and Brunei. He has helpfully suggested that this might indicate that the photographer was based on the west coast. It will be very interesting to find out who he was. My feelers are out on this one for definite.
The logo consist of a church steeple with the words San Bride below which has intrigued postcard collectors for ages. Most of the NB postcards eg those by Funk were printed in Germany to quite a high standard and in commercial quantities.
The present perception would indicate that these postcards were only printed in limited quantities which would not have been commercially viable for the German printers. Even so, the printing of these colour postcards by photogravure or the similar halftone process can be expensive.  It was very likely to be a small printing firm of European origin due to the nature of the logo.

St Bride's Church, Fleet St, London

Having come across some black and white GB photos listed as being printed by Sanbride press of Middlesbrough, your scribe was able to track down further information as shown above. Almost certainly, these postcards were printed by Hood & Co. of Sanbride Press, Middlebrough, Cleveland, GB. There is a likelihood that the person responsible for the NB Sanbride postcards would have had some connection to this area to be aware of the firm and arranged for the printing.
The steeple depicted was more probably to be that of St Bride's Church, Fleet St, London designed by Sir Christopher Wren rather than the one shown in the advertisement with St Maclou at Rouen in France. So why was St Bride's steeple used as the logo while the company was based way up North?
The St Bride Printing School located just off Fleet Street, London was opened in 1895. It provided tuition for local printers and students especially when Fleet Street was the centre of the newspaper industry in London. As it grew in size, it was relocated elsewhere and is now known as The London School of Communication. However, the St Bride Foundation Institute is still on Fleet street. My supposition would be that the original proprietor of Sanbride Press was trained at this institution.

Coming back to the NB postcards, it is unlikely that there was an extended series of these photogravure cards. As seen from the advertisement above, Sanbride was willing to do small batches of subjects from 6 to 12 upwards. And also the quoted price of 44 shillings per 1000 which worked out at about 0.5d which in turn equates to about 0.2p of today's money a card would seem very affordable.

Update: This company probably dated from as early as the 1880s. The logo that was was used on earlier postcards was smaller and simpler. And the earliest postcards did not have any logo and just "sanbride" in small letters on the front on the bottom right side and also in letters as part of the "T" divider at the back.
middle of card

right top corner probably older


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