Ah Bournemouth! Just the spot for a nice lie down, or, in our case, to start digging in the sands - and hopefully to raise a mighty castle to the memory of this long distant group of collectors, who dreamed of becoming our first ever Branch. So please do shout across if you can help with the construction....
What is regarded to be the first mention of a Bournemouth Branch of the Cameric Cigarette Card Club appeared in the March 1939 edition of the London Cigarette Card Company’s “Cigarette Card News” magazine. (Vol.6, No.66), in a section called “Around the Clubs”. This says : “[Cameric] Branch meetings are now being held at different centres throughout the country. Members wishing to attend these meetings should get in touch with the respective Branch Secretaries for details of date and place of meeting . . . . Members not residing in any of the above areas and wishing to hold their own branch meetings should apply to the Secretary [of the Cameric] for details. Applications can only be considered from members living in towns.”. There were three Branches listed, Birmingham, Bournemouth, and Hastings, and the Branch Secretary for Bournemouth was given as J Curtis, Holme Dene, Poole Road, Bournemouth.
I now know he had joined the Cameric in 1936, and started Bournemouth Branch in 1937. Or did he ?
Westbourne Park, 1935
I say that because in August 1935, the “Cigarette Card News” (Vol.2, No.23), says: “We [The Cameric Club] have been requested by the organisers of proposed clubs in the Birmingham and Westbourne Park districts to place them in touch with those likely to be interested. On hearing from any of our readers, we shall be pleased to forward their names to the Hon. Secretaries of the proposed organisations, and we shall also be glad to extend the same facilities to organisers of clubs in other districts, if any such care to communicate with the Editor. We further propose to devote some space monthly to "Club Notes and News," and trust to hear regularly from club secretaries in this connection.”
For some years, I presumed Westbourne Park to be in London; however, look at that address from March 1939, of Poole Road, Bournemouth with a modern map, and you are firmly within an area known as Westbourne.
The new thought, therefore, is that Westbourne Park was actually the first Bournemouth Branch, and that the Branch either changed its name to avoid other people like me thinking it was in London, or they simply followed the way things were done and called the club “Bournemouth” because that was where they met. Or did they get no response at all, and a new Bournemouth Club, nothing to do with them, started in 1937.
The answer to this could be in the first Cameric Notes and News, when they were duplicated. But I don’t have those (yet…)
But Back to Bournemouth
Leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War, Bournemouth goes quiet, but most Branches did, as their officials slowly got called up and away. Then in March 1944, suddenly, in The Cartophilic Society magazine, “The Bulletin” (Vol.2. No.17, p.136) it suddenly says that Cameric “Branch Meetings at Bournemouth and Liverpool are held at regular intervals”.
The next development in this story is a very odd one, and sad. In April 1946 (Vol.4, No.38); by then our magazine has been renamed “The Cartophilic World”, and as part of the report of the meeting of Council held on the 26th of February, 1946, it says : “Bournemouth Members. The Council had before it a letter from Mr. Curtis (member) of Bournemouth, giving details of recent activities of the Bournemouth members, who meet regularly each month, and have delivered lectures to various local bodies. The Council expressed approval and gratitude for the interest and keenness of the Bournemouth Members.”
As gratifying as this approval was, it was not really what the Bournemouth members wanted, and they went so far as to write a further letter, which was considered at the Cartophilic Society Council meeting of Tuesday 9 April 1946. We know this because in the Cartophilic World Vol.4 No.40, issued in June 1946, on page 325, appears : “Correspondence. A letter from the Bournemouth members was considered, in which it was stated they (The Bournemouth members) were desirous of forming themselves into a branch of the Society. The Council were in agreement with the proposal, and promised all help with lecturers, etc., but owing to the legal difficulties could not consent to an official branch of the Society being formed.”
Now it was not the case that they had closed as a Cameric Branch, as you might be thinking, because in May 1946, the Bournemouth Branch appears in the first edition of the newly printed Cameric “Notes and News”, at the bottom of page one, which makes it the first Branch ever mentioned in the “New Series” of their magazines. This says : “Mr. E. J. B. Curtis, “Holme Dene”, Poole Road, Bournemouth, informs me that the meetings are fixed from meeting to meeting (approx. monthly) and that they would give a warm welcome to any Cameric member who can attend. Mr. Curtis will be pleased to send you particulars of the next meeting on reciept of a postcard.” There must have been a bit of a rethink about all that botheration of sending postcards, because the following edition printed a date for their next meeting, and this was Thursday 27th of June, 1946.
In the August 1946 edition of Cameric “Notes and News” (V1. No.4) it tells us that “The monthly meeting was held at Mr. Torrens [home] on Thursday, June 27th, when in spite of appalling weather there was a good attendance. After a discussion on future meetings, a small auction was held. Mr. L. G. Prince showed two albums of unusual overseas issues. . . Meetings on 3rd Thursday in the month”
This is followed by something which seems very strange, on another line, that being “The Bournemouth Group of the Cartophilic Society met on Thursday, 18th July when Mr V.A.G. Brown gave a very comprehensive talk on “The House and Issues” of Singleton & Cole with a display of all issues." But this is only three months after April 1946, when the Council of the Cartophilic Society had stated they “could not consent to an official branch of the Society being formed.” I believe that this has a simple reason, the deadline for inclusion in the magazine, which was considerably longer in the pre-internet era. But it may also be a sign of their disappointment in being turned down in their heartfelt request to form a branch.
Mr. E.J.B. Curtis
The best thing about the above correspondence is that it supplies me with a full set of initials. And it was fairly easy to find him after that. The Cartophilic Society “Bulletin” of May 1942 even has a pen portrait autobiography of him, which says he was 43 years old, and a dental surgeon, who belonged to the Cameric and Cartophilic, and had started collecting cards at school, but had only really got seriously into it over the last 7 years. That takes us back to 1936, so tends to rule him out for starting Westbourne Park. He collected all cards, especially military, and had 625 sets valued at £360, his three favourites being Ogden “Royal Mail”, Duncan`s “Scottish Gems” third set, and Smith`s “Famous Explorers”.
Cameric “Notes and News” (June 1946), adds he fought in both World Wars, and specialised in Army cards, but as he said “the British and Colonial Army, not the Allies, nor the Foreign”. And he was a keen type collector. Type collecting also had a major advantage, that of storage, for as he says, “Even if it were possible to obtain a large percentage of those numerous series, the housing problem would be as acute as the position created by the present Government.” (I'm getting to like this guy)
Another biography, in “Cameric Notes and News” (September 1947), has our photo; it starts by congratulating him for keeping his Branch going through the War, then tells us he was born in Bournemouth in November 1898 and went to school in Oundle, Northants, leaving his collection of 5,000 cards behind. After a couple of years in uniform for the First World War, he followed his father into dentistry and studied at Guy`s Hospital. He joined the Cameric in 1936, starting the Bournemouth Branch in 1937, and becoming Secretary. And he later joined the Cartophilic Society. By 1947 he had 1,000 sets of cards, and also enjoyed carpentry, photography, and model railways - and electronics, for I also found him in Wireless Magazine, copy dated January 1926, where this letter was published : “SIR,-I should like to utter my praises for the one -valve picnic set. I have added to the set an. L.F. amplifier so that one or two valves can be used. Besides receiving Bournemouth at very good loud -speaker strength, I have had Cardiff on the phones, 2 L 0 mid -day transmissions, rather faintly, and a German station. The tuning is most critical, and Bournemouth can be cut out and Cardiff tuned in with ease. The set, by the way, has only been used indoors so far. It is all that could be wished for, as it is entirely self-contained. I enclose a photograph. E. J: B. CURTIS (Bournemouth).”
A photo of his work was also printed in that edition, which you can see at https://worldradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-UK/Technology/Technology-Early/Wireless-Magazine/IDX/Wireless-Magazine-1926-01-S-OCR-IDX-88.pdf
Like me, he also collected magazines, because in Cameric “Notes and News” July 1946 (V.1 No.3, p25), he pleads “WANTED URGENTLY. C.C.N. Nos 1,14, 15, 16, 17. Can anyone complete my volumes for me. Any reasonable price paid for above numbers” And, excitingly, he was also married with three children, a girl and two boys, so maybe somewhere out there are descendants? If so we would love to hear from you…
Mr. Curtis last appeared in the Cartophilic Society membership roll for the 23rd of April 1953.
Mr. L. G. Prince
However there is another candidate for starting Westbourne Branch who has been overlooked, and that is Bournemouth Branch`s Chairman, Mr. Leslie. G. Prince.
In August 1942 his pen portrait was in the Cartophilic Bulletin, which tells us he lived at 42 Fitzharris Avenue in Bournemouth, was an accountant and auditor, had been collecting cards for forty years, and had between 1350 and 1650 sets, valued at £800, which was “by far the largest collection in Bournemouth”, even though since 1922 he had only collected “Mint” cards. (!) And this did not count his types of British and Colonial Soldiers, nor the fact he was just starting to seriously collect Ogden`s Guinea Golds. The only trade he collected were Typhoo, and he had no interest at all in errors and varieties. His favourite sets were Wills “Soldiers of the World” for value, Player’s “Old England’s Defenders” for sentiment, and Greiling “Money of the World”, in its album, for novelty, the coins being shown both sides in relief and at the actual size of the original coin. He also enjoyed making albums and bookshelves, collecting model trains and taking photographs. The only problem is that under “societies you belong to”, he only replies “The Cartophilic”. However in Cameric “Notes and News” (December 1946) an article tells us he was one of the very earliest members of the Cameric, so perhaps he was thinking too literally, the Cameric not being a Society, but a Cigarette Card Club.
The Cameric “Notes and News” (Vol.1 No.8) confirms that he had “by far the largest collection in Bournemouth” and is “now taking Ogden`s Guinea Gold very seriously”. It adds that he was one of the very earliest members of the Cameric, having a fine general collection, a type collection of British and Colonial Soldiers, and enjoyed making albums and bookshelves to store his cards, whilst also collecting model railways and taking photographs.
A bit more information appears in July-August 1956 in “The Cartophilic World” (Vol. 11, No.124) as part of his obituary - he died in April 1956. He is recorded as “a keen and enthusiastic cartophilist and friend, [and] a member of the Council … for a short period until illness prevented his attendance, and he was a great help to us in the preparation of our earlier booklets. There was always a cheery welcome waiting for any collectors who visited his home in Bournemouth and he founded the local branch of the Cameric Club there.”
The important word there is “founded”, not “co-founded with Mr. Curtis”; and if he had collaborated I am sure this would have been mentioned before. And why was he Chairman of Bournemouth, with Mr. Curtis Secretary. In fact in the “The Cigarette Card Review” magazine of October 1946 it gives Mr. Prince`s address as the contact, and in the January 1947 edition we learn he was also the Editor of their quarterly club magazine. So does this mean he founded Westbourne Park, then collaborated with Mr. Curtis on the re-naming, or re-starting, as Bournemouth?
So when did the Branch really start ?
So on to another quandary, (isn’t this fun!) because the November 1946 edition of the Cameric “Notes and News” records the fact that “The season opened with a meeting at Mr, R. E. Webber, 66a Wolverton Road on Thursday October 3rd”. And those attending included the Cameric President, Mr. F. V. Blows, along with his wife, who were on holiday – though it also says he was able to show some rare cards from his collection, Wills “Soldiers”, “Cricketers 1896”, and “Waterloo”. Would you really take those on holiday, even if you were staying with the only dealer in Bournemouth, Mr. R. E. Webber, whose home hosted the meeting?
The problem here is that for the season to start in October it would suggest that the Branch was founded either then or in September, and yet we only have the Bournemouth Branch meetings “now being held” in March 1939. However if we return to our roots, this is yet another nod to the Westbourne Park Branch being the true beginnings of the Bournemouth Branch, for that was proposed in August 1935, and, given a quick response, may well have started in the September or October of 1935.
The Bournemouth Cartophilic Echo
The dreams of one day becoming a Cartophilic Branch seem to turn up in everything they do, for in 1947, when they started to publish a club magazine, it went by the above title.
Cameric Notes and News” (September 1947) first mentions it in their editorial, “I must congratulate our Bournemouth Branch on their enterprise, kept very dark until actual issue, in starting a magazine. It is delightful reading, with that light, humorous touch, which is only too often omitted from cartophilic magazines, but which means success. Good luck to you and may “The Bournemouth Cartophilic Echo” flourish.” It also pops up in the club round up section,where it states: “BOURNEMOUTH. A good meeting was held on Thursday, 30th May, at Mr. Curtis. A lengthy discussion on the Branch magazine was held [and] Mr. Goodbody of Lee lent his collection of Typhoo cards for display, which was much appreciated.” And the next meeting was announced as Thursday 25th July.
From other publications we have gleaned that it seemed to copy our magazine, with a regular pen portrait of a leading collector, many articles, lists of unnumbered series and notes on meetings. And it was edited by Mr. Prince. A specimen copy was 7d and a year`s subscription, four copies, post free, cost 2/6d.
However in The Cartophilic World Vol.5, No.55, issued in September 1947, suddenly it states that “THE BOURNEMOUTH CARTOPHILIC ECHO is a casualty, which is a matter for great regret. It was lively, fresh and welcome, and deserved a better fate. Only the ever-increasing wave of costs has put it into cold storage, from which we hope it will emerge again when times are more rational. We, too, have anxieties, as our printing bill mounts as month succeeds month, but could cure our troubles by an enlarged membership….”
But sadly that was it - and in 1960, within Cartophilic World vol.13 no.145, it gives a library listing of “THE BOURNEMOUTH CARTOPHILIC ECHO - four issues, complete, bound as one volume.”
By July 1947 meetings were on the third Thursday in month, but by September 1947 they had returned to being the Thursday. The Branch did keep going, and in Cameric Notes and News, Volume 6, new series, no 6, dated December 1951, they appeared on the back cover, as part of the Christmas feature, which reads “The Lancashire, Yorkshire, Reading and Bournemouth Branches join with their London Camericans in wishing their President – Mr Blows, a Merry and well earned Christmas” I have to say I had not heard of the expression “Camericans” before!
In 1952, these same four Branches were mentioned. In 1955 Bournemouth was still going strong, for an advertisement for the Cameric Society in “Cigarette Card News” (Vol.21 No.241 July/August 1955) lists five Branches including “Bournemouth”, and though in a list of Branches in the “Cameric Notes and News” Volume 10, New Series, May 1956, Bournemouth is not mentioned, this was obviously an oversight, because in “Cigarette Card News” September / December 1956 (vol.21 No.248/9) the advertisements read “Branches in Lancashire (Manchester), Yorkshire (Leeds), Birmingham, Bournemouth, Edinburgh and Reading”
And a few months after Mr. Prince died the “Cigarette Card News” for September / December 1956 contains a Cameric advertisement which says “Branches in Lancashire (Manchester), Yorkshire (Leeds), Birmingham, Bournemouth, Edinburgh and Reading”. So someone else took it over, perhaps even leading Bournemouth dealer Mr. Webber, who also appears in the club photo?
However it was not converted into a Cartophilic Branch in 1964/5 when the Cameric and Cartophilic merged, unlike some of the others. So where did it go….