Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Curious Case Of Miss Gabrielle Ray

Monday was bin day in the Mac household.  The wheelie bin is only emptied once a fortnight while the recycling is taken on a weekly basis.

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.


Terry said...

An interesting story. I hope you have some success with it and find out some more.

Sarn said...

I say Sherlock, you did well finding out that much! I hope your further adventures in sleuthing turn up more fascinating facts!

In the words of Mr Holmes: "Get your coat, there's not a moment to lose" . . . . or your magnifying glass and deerstalker . . . whatever you want really!

Hugs, Sarn xxx

Brighton Pensioner said...

Sarah, there was - as far as I can see - only one Richard Jolly born in England in 1875. He was born in Singleton, Lancashire, and his birth was registered in the third quarter of the year (July - September) in the Poulton-le-Fylde registration district. In the 1911 census he gave his age as 37, he was single, a bricklayer, and was living in Poulton with his sister, a brother and a niece. he died in the Fylde district of Lancashire in 1956.

There were other Richard Jolly's born in the 1873-1876 years in Cornwall, Essex etc, but I assume that as the card is postmarked April 1905, his 30th birthday was around that time.

Sarah said...

Wow, thank you BP for checking this out for me, I hadn't got as far as doing that. It's fascinating isn't it? I only know the card was postmarked Kingsbridge (and apparently she did have a fondness for that part of the world) but I don't know where it was sent. I guess if this IS the Richard Jolly the any descendants could have made their way south. Or it could just be a random thing, who knows ... I'm going to see what I can find and anything I do find I shall post about. If you come across anything else that would be great. Thanks again :-)

joeh said...


Sarah said...

It is Joe - interesting and odd, I'd love to know where it came from.

Unknown said...

This mystery is frustrating me! It sounds like it could so easily have been her and why did you find it where you found it?!? It is so delicious - such intrigue behind it.

Unknown said...

I wonder where she was in 1905?

Val said...

That is amazing! How did it get under your bin? Makes me wonder if one of your wacky associates had anything to do with it. And not purposely.

All I found under my dumpster this afternoon (I caved and have been pulling it up the long, long driveway every week) was a frog. It was still alive when I started, but when my feisty little dog tired of trying to trip me, he beat me back to the garage, and the frog was gone when I got there. That does not bode well for Mr. Frog. I hope he doesn't turn up on my kitchen floor, because I don't have a frog shovel.

Di said...

How fascinating! Do follow up with another post if you find out more Sarah!


Di xx

Anonymous said...

“Lady Madcap” ran from 17th December 1904 for 354 performances at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London until 25th November 1905. During the run Miss Ray played the part of “Susan,” Lady’s Maid to “Lady Betty Clarridge.” The Bystander, 22nd November 1905 shows that she also took the title role of “Lady Betty Clarridge.”

Sarah said...

I think we will both have to live with the frustration Holly, I don;t think I'm going to find out a great deal more but I shall try!

A frog shovel would be a useful thing to have wouldn't it Val? I am feeling the lack of shovels in my life.

I will Di, like I said, not holding out a great deal of hope but you never know.

Thanks st75 - I really enjoyed reading a little more about her on your blog. She had such a fascinating and ultimately sad life.

Polly said...

Hi Sarah, hope you’re feeling better. What a fascinating find, it sounds authentic. Congratulations on the new baby, I don’t know anything about cars, but I do like SD’s favourite one. Sorry I’m going back so far, I just can’t organise my time properly. Re: the worm on the carpet, there’s a great site called https://pixlr.com/editor/ you can clone good areas to cover bad bits. I can do it so I’m sure you could :-)
Love those cats, if the rat had long hair could it have been someone’s pet guinea pig?!!
Love that tombola!I would like an SD in my life, shame he can’t be cloned!
I love your chazzing stuff. That’s such a pretty card.
Have a good weekend xx

Sarah said...

Thanks Polly, feeling much better other than this annoying cough I can't shift. Thank you for reading back so far too! Hope you had a good weekend xx

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Oooer - love a good mystery! Let us all know what you discover. I knew a Rick Jolly at university and, from the little I can remember, anything would have been possible. What's this about a new baby? I need to catch up, obviously!

Sarah said...

I will do Mike - wouldn't it be really strange if there were a connection? It's not ME having the baby - I'm well past all that. It's my niece :-)