I pulled the bin from it's position in the small area to the front of my house (not for me the long haul down the drive Val) and on to the pavement outside the gate.
I noticed a piece of paper on the ground where the bin had been. As I picked it up I realised that it wasn't a piece of paper after all but a postcard.
A very old postcard...
So I took it into the house to look at it more closely.
On the front was the picture of a lady wearing a large hat with flowers in her hair. The style was early 19th century and the name on the front was Miss Gabrielle Ray.
On the back was some writing: "Mr Richard Jolly on his 30th birthday" and, under that, "P.S. Ray is only a stage name of mine". The postmark is April 23 05. At fist I assumed that the card had been posted in 2005 but, on closer inspection, it was clear that the stamp was much older than this and it could possibly have been posted in 1905 which means that it could actually have been written by Ray herself.
I was curious so I did a little digging.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about her:
Gabrielle Ray (28 April 1883 - 21 May 1973), was an English stage actress, dancer and singer, best known for her roles in Edwardian musical comedies.
Ray was considered one of the most beautiful actresses on the London stage and became one of the most photographed women in the world. In the first decade of the 20th century, she had a good career in musical theatre. After an unsuccessful marriage, however, she never recovered the fame that she had enjoyed. She spent many of her later years in mental hospitals.
From there I went on to find a few blogs dedicated to her life, her career and her postcards. It's be fascinating finding out a little more about her.
There are a few things about the card which throw a little doubt on it's authenticity.
The writing is on the right hand side where the address should be. It also appears to be a label possibly stuck over the original text.
It's hard to tell but there may have been writing on both sides of the card at one point but it's so faded and damaged that you really can't tell.
The postmark ... COULD it be 1905?? I'm not sure. Did they even use postmarks like this at that time? Again, I don't know.
The stamp I know IS original and the postmark is where you would expect it to be (partly covering the stamp) so it must have been stamped in a genuine post office - would anyone actually go into a post office and ask them to stamp an old postcard? Seems unlikely.
The card itself isn't worth anything (and yes, if you were wondering, if I discovered it was worth thousands then I WOULD sell it!) as many thousands of these cards were produced and even if it did turn out to have been written by her (and there is probably no way to find out) then it would still only be worth a few pounds.
But it is intriguing so I will see if I can find out who Richard Jolly is/was and if he (or his family) would like to have the card back.
Of course I can't assume that he was local. Anyone could have picked this card up at a card fair and there could be any number of reasons why it ended up under my bin.
I like a bit of mystery though so until and unless I discover any further information I shall keep it in my cabinet and look at it from time time.