Fragments from France Christmas Cards
By late 1917 Bruce Bairnsfather's .Fragments from France cartoons had been reproduced on all manner of 'official' Bystander merchandise - by now there were four published volumes of Bairnsfather's drawings, colour prints, postcards, jigsaws, playing cards and matchbox covers. The cartoonist was certainly proving to be a very lucrative asset indeed for the publishers of The Bystander, and as the festive season of 1917 approached they extended their array of merchandise even further, the latest offering being boxes of Christmas cards.
An advertisement in The Graphic on 1 December 1917 announced 'Fragments from France Christmas Cards - Ten subjects in colour with envelopes in fancy box.' Priced at 2s 9d a box (post free) they were available exclusively from the publisher of The Bystander or at the Graphic Gallery in the Strand.
At the time of writing all ten cartoons used on the Christmas cards have not been identified. Those which are known are:
When the 'ell is it goin' to be strawberry?
That Evening Star' Shell
Coiffure in the Trenches
There goes our blinkin' parapet again
The 3" x5" cards each had a cigarette card sized colour cartoon lightly affixed to the front, framed by a colour border (pre-printed on the card), with the caption printed underneath. The word 'GREETINGS' was also printed in colour, below the caption. Of the known examples, most have 'GREETINGS' printed in a modern, almost art deco style in pale blue, however one has it in a script-like style.
To finish off the 'look' of the cards, they were usually embellished with a bow or piece of coloured braid.
Inside each card was a paper insert bearing a seasonal verse or messag, such as:
May happiness and health be yours,
And good Dame Fortune with it
That Life's Campaign for you may mean
Always a decent 'Billet.'.
As with the majority of The Bystander's printed Bairnsfather merchandise, the cards were 'Published for the Proprietors of The Bystander by AVN Jones & Co., 64 Fore Street, London, EC.'
Fragments from France Christmas Cards don't come up too often, but make a nice addition to any Bairnsfather .collection, particularly for those enthusiast who lean more towards printed ephemera.