Publishers

"Crown Publishing Ltd

The book Picture Postcards and their Publishers, by Anthony Byatt records the following:

THE CROWN PUBLISHING CO.

This seems to have been a very short-lived company which operated from 23 Catherine Street, St. Albans from about 1908 to 1910. No further trace can be found in 1911 unless the firm had moved to another town. A large crown was used as a trade mark.

The comic card is dominant, with a consistently high numerical sequence, suggesting that this commenced with the number 1000. Later issues are set off rather attractively by means of a dark brown-grained frame about 6 mm. wide. The humour generally attains a good standard.

The most distinctive group of cards published are those signed 'Karaktus'. Drawn in a bold style they convey the message in no uncertain way, as can be seen from Karaktus No. 1 (illustrated). On the back of this card the sender wrote, "I hope you will never be like this". At least 26 cards were issued in this series, but does any collector know the identity of Karaktus?

It is not clear where the information linking the company with 23 Catherine Street, St Albans, originally came from, as the cards only say "St Albans". The 1901 census shows the address to be a small boarding house. The 1911 census shows that 23 Catherine Street was then an empty shop and house. It is not listed in the 1908 or 1912 Kelly's Directory for Hertfordshire. At sometime in 1914/15 the photographer L. L. Christmas moved to the address from Queens Road, Watford, but there is no reason to associate him with the company.

 

The first cards appeared about October 1908, and those relating to the 1909 pop songs must have come later, but possibly none were printed after 1909. It appears that they were distributed nationally - and so far I have seen only one card posted in Hertfordshire.

"Crown" Postcards - Series 1

These cards were simply published in the "Crown Series with numbers around 1010 and some (and possibly all) were drawn by a "F.S." - Apart from the apparent link with the following there is no reason to assume that these cards were published in St Albans. "F S" did a lot of work for the London View Company and may have set this company up after the London View Company closed in 1907.

"Crown" Postcards - Series 2

Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, Herts

[Known with no publisher]

None of these cards are signed - but the a similarities in both the style and the subject matter which suggest they may have been by "F S". The cards so far identified have numbers in the range 1026 to 1039 - suggesting a follow on from the previous series. numbers. The Company address is given at St Albans.

"Crown" Postcards - Series 3

Again these are unsigned - with numbers in the range 1043 to 1049. The Company address is given at St Albans.

"Crown" Postcards - Karaktus

Karaktus Post Card No 9, Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, Herts, 1909

Scotland! With all thy faults, I love thy still

No. 9 (known posted 9 January 1909 in Kettering)

The highly distinctive comic cards illustrated here were published by The Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, and were sold nationally in 1908/9. They are numbered from 1 to 30 (the highest number I have so far identified). There was no later series.

The identity of Karaktus remains a mystery.

 

Karaktus Post Card No 11, Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, Herts, 1909

Money talks! but alas I'm speechless

 No. 11

 

Karaktus Post Card No 5, Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, Herts, 1909

The early bird catches the worm ...

No. 5 (known posted 27 September 1909 in Birmingham)

 

Karaktus Post Card No 25, Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, Herts, 1909

Yes! Father puts in a lot of overtime

No 25 (Known posted September  1909 in Gaywood)