"Crown Publishing Co"

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


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.


Series 0

No Series Name or publisher

Cards numbered 1000-1007

Petticoat Lane

Signed "F S"


Coming Down

Every Picture tells a Story


 "F S"


Breach of Promise Series

Never break an engagement off with a girl who has brothers!

They may want an explanation!

Signed "F S"


These  had a simple back "This space may be used for communication" and were printed in Saxony. There is nno publisher or series details given. The lower numbers (1000-1005) may have been printed as a single set of six mascellaneous comic cards - although one may have been reused in the problematic Every Picture tells a Story set. However the Breach of Promise Series was a regular set of six cards. Earliest known posting August 1908 but too few examples to be very sure..

Series 1

These card all carry the above distinctively worded instruction and for this reason were almost certainly printed by  Delittle, Fenwick & Co, of York, who also later published a number of "F S" cards for a variety of publishers (see 1d postage applies). Earliest posted late June 1908 with further postings in July, August and September.


Many of the cards appear with either the 1008 or 1009 number but appear to be printed from the same engraved plate.  Some also appear with out the The Crown Series  or a number on the back. Some cards are signed but where this happens the signatures are in different positions on the 1008 and 1009 versions of the cards - with the signature on the 1009 card being printed in a different ink to the other lettering. Many of the cards have been allocated into one of the following series:

In addition a significant number were later republished by the "Green Back" publisher.

"Crown Series" Cards numbered 1008

To the Young Lady that sings

Signed F S

[Shop and Office Workers]

To a pushing young clerk

Remember it is far easier to push a pen than push a perambulator

Signed "F S"


A Windy Day in Bonnie Scotland!


"Crown Series" Cards numbered 1009


A Heiland Mary and a Heiland Little Mary

Signed "F S"

All the world loves a lover

Signed F S

Hints on Dress

A Walking Skirt should be Short!

The most comfortable skirt for walking in is a ballet dress

Signed "F S"

"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). Earliest posted October 1908.

 There was no later series.





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)

"Crown" Postcards - Series 2

Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, Herts

Never marry a girl unless you have tickled her fancy

No 1025

All Right Behind, Bill

No 1026

Man came first - and woman after him!

No 1034

None of these cards are signed - but the similarities in both the style and the subject matter suggest they were almost certainly been by "F S". The cards so far identified have individual numbers in the range 1026 to 1040 - suggesting a follow on from the previous series. numbers. The Company address is given at St Albans.  Earliest known posting February 1909. A number were later republished by the "Green Back" publisher, along with other known "F S" cards, some cards, such as No 1025, appearing in the later set Advice ot men i love. In addition a redrawn version of No 1037 was signed by Dauber (Fred Spurgin).

His right hand doesn't know what his left hand is doing

No 1037

"Crown" Postcards - Series 3

When a Man is married his wife does this for him

No 1043

There are many things a man has to close his eyes to, but this is not one of them!

No 1044

If anything like this belongs to you, cover it over with the pillow!

No 1051

Again these are unsigned - with identified numbers in the range 1043 to 1056. The Company address is given as St Albans. Earliest posted August 1910. so far there is no evidence that any of these cards were reprinted.


The border is unusual for an "F S" card but holly borders were used in the 1906 "F S" Xmas series and the later 1910 Lace-edged cards were signed by Fred Spurgin

His First Apple and Her First Pair!

No 1056