Cyprus B.E.E. Post cards.


Bill Tonkin.

I recently received an E-mail from: ‘Anthony Antoniou’ <> Tony is not a member of the Study Group but if I can answer anybody’s queries I do.

Dear Bill,

I am a collector of postcards of Cyprus. I recently came across a set of 6 cards from Ceylon that were produced by Tuck’s for the B.E.E. 1924. Which got me thinking. One of the series of postcards of Cyprus published by Tuck’s in the 1920’s (exact date unknown) consists of 12 cards (photos by J. P. Foscolo). These cards are numbered 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 22, 26, 39, 41, 47, 51 and 55 and were sold in an envelope listing the 12. The numbering has lead people to suggest they may be part of a larger empire/world series. I thought it may be possible that, like the Ceylon postcards, these were also produced for the B.E.E. The B.E.E. Official Catalogue shows that both Tuck’s and J.P. Foscolo (a photographer and postcard publisher from Cyprus) participated in the exhibition. I understand that, along with Mike Perkins, you have produced two books on the subject of postcards of the B.E.E., one being a price guide and check list. I have not been able to locate any copies here in Australia and did not wish to purchase them simply on the off-chance that they may contain something of relevance. Your assistance in any way would be greatly appreciated.

Regards, Tony

Dear Tony.

Thanks for your E Mail regarding Foscolo postcards at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924 and 1925. Yes they were available from the Cyprus section in 1924 and from the Cyprus Pavilion in 1925.

In my records I have a photo-copy of No. 11, ‘Donkeys loaded with Fuel’ with an exhibition stamp and posted at the exhibition on 29 August 1924. They would have been purchased or given away at stand No. 4 (crafts) in section G, (the Cyprus section). Stand No. 4 displayed pictures, photographs, post cards and publications. Foscolo’s name is not mentioned in the 1924 catalogue.

In 1925 Cyprus had its own small pavilion and the 1925 catalogue devotes a lot more space to the exhibits and mentions J. P. Foscolo in the private exhibits section, exhibiting photographs. Post cards (presumably his) were still available in the crafts section.

By a coincidence I have another No. 11, ‘Donkeys loaded with Fuel’ unfortunately not posted but with a written message on the back "My Dear Grandson, Am sorry I have no birthday card, this is one I had left from Wembley, ‘Cyprus’. Granddad and I went there............Am putting some stamps in letter for you" This explains why the post card was not posted. This post card could have been got by Grandma in 1924 or 1925.

Your E Mail cleared up one point I have never been sure whether the twelve cards known were all that were published or since the numbers went up to 55, I should keep on looking. Do you have the packet because Tucks often printed on the packet ‘Specially produced for the British Empire Exhibition’ or words to that effect.

All the best, Bill.

This brought a reply from Tony,

Dear Bill,

I do not have the envelope that contained the cards but I have attached a scanned image of one that appeared in the Cyprus Study Circle’s ‘Circular Post’. It was included as part of an article by G. White. He did not provide an image of the rear of the envelope. However, as he says "They were on sale around 1928", it would be safe to say there is nothing linking the envelope to the B.E.E.

I have in my possession only two cards from that series. One is No. 39 not posted with brown text on the back and a handwritten 1924. The other is No. 13, posted from the U.K. on 19 Nov. 1925 with black text on the back. Neither G. White or S. Lazarides (in his book on Cyprus post cards ‘Panorama of Cyprus’) makes any mention of possible varieties.

The card that you indicate was sent on 29 August 1924 may be the earliest known postally used example. The Lazarides also gives 1928 as the earliest recorded date. I have since written to him about my 1925 copy.

The questions remaining in my mind are,

1 Why the staggered numbering system?

2 Were the cards available before the B.E.E.?

3 Could there be two (or more) distinct printings?

Best regards, Tony.

This made me get out my Cyprus cards to see what I could make of Tony’s questions, also to refer to our book on B.E.E. cards. The first thing I spotted was a mistake in the book (Yes dear reader, you’re as surprised as I am). Somehow an extra number and title had crept in ‘No. 21. View from Mt. Troodos. Cyprus.’ Going back to our notes made when the book was just a gleam in the eye, I can find no mention of this number or title, there is a No. 26. View from Mt. Troodos. Cyprus. which is a vertical card, but no horizontal No. 21. of the same title. We had listed 13 titles but now accepting one was an error, it brings the list down to 12 and these are the same 12 numbers and titles as listed on the Tuck’s envelope. The image of the Tuck envelope Tony E-mailed me was of too poor a quality to reproduce in the Journal.

So there is no doubt in my mind that these were the only titles published by Tuck. It may well be that Foscolo originally photographed 50 or so views of Cyprus, all of which were probably numbered for reference purposes, and Tuck selected 12 of the views and left their Foscolo reference number on them. I shall be surprised if any of the intermediate numbers were published by Tuck, as none have ever been recorded that I know of.

I do not know the answer to the second question. Nearly all the cards recorded are not postally used and until one turns up with a pre 1924 post mark we shall not know the answer to this one.

Could there be two or more distinct printings? Here the answer is yes and no. At the time the book was written we only knew of brown backs, and we were not even sure that they were B.E.E. cards. We stated "It is possible that this series were available at the exhibition, but no card has been seen with Wembley stamp and exhibition cancellation to confirm this". Since then we now know that cards were available at the exhibition and some were postally used at the exhibition.

Tony mentions there are two colours of backs, brown and black and at a first glance this is so. Amongst my Cyprus B.E.E. cards I have four pairs of views each with both a brown and black back. A careful examination convinced me that they were not different printings, any minor flaw on one card like broken frame line to the stamp box or irregularity of the divider was repeated on its sister card, this was so on all four pairs. When I came to look at the colour I realised they were not black at all. When examined under a strong magnifier (I use an 8X) I found that my black backs were in fact a very dark brown. I would hazard a guess that at some time during the print run the machine ran low on ink and the ink tank was refilled with a much darker shade of brown, almost black in fact.

And now a bit of sad news, way back, Mike and I agreed to differ on whether the Tuck Cyprus cards were B.E.E. cards or not. I thought they were and kept all of mine. Mike was convinced they weren’t and got rid of his. When they started turning up with Wembley cancellations he regretted this and is still trying to replace them, so far without complete success. I am still missing No. 41 so if anyone has a spare copy I should be grateful.


© Exhibition Study Group 2002