Man with mourning black armband. RPPC. Private Collection.
The black armband meant there was a recent death in the close entourage or household of this gentleman. The other one may have been wearing it too but it is not visible.
Both men and women mourners wore it on their left arm, and three months seems to have been the accepted length of time to display it. While still worn today by the military and sports teams, we have by and large lost this tradition. The armband let people know the person is grieving, and invited them to treat him or her with compassion and understanding in their difficult time.
Distant family members or friends would dress in gray instead of black.
RPPC: divided back. No stamp box. 1907-1914
1910’s Postcard of home wake. Private Collection. Click for larger image.
The third one lifted her at once
And he kissed her mouth, so pale.
“I still love you today, I love you more than ever.
I will love you in eternity!”
This image is very touching, the composition was very carefully balanced between the lover’s intimate goodbye and the rest of the family.
To the left in the foreground, the mother of the deceased young woman is mourning with her head and eyes lowered. She’s holding a white handkerchief in her hands and has a set of house keys hanging off her waist. She stands with the brothers of the kissing man -since he’s referred to as the third. The young man in the middle is offering the mother needed physical comfort with his arm on her back, his hat still in hand. The other looks to be comforting her with words instead.
In the background and behind curtains the third grieving gentleman and sweetheart of the deceased woman left his hat on the steps to give his lost love a last kiss goodbye. She lays on the bed with a wraith matching white flower in her curly hair.
This Edwardian postcard approaches this sad human experience with subtle yet powerful imagery. There’s a touch of comfort too: their love is eternal and unwavering, even after death. Again this all feels timeless, yet today you would see this sort of scene at the hospital instead.
Note on back.
This card was posted at the dawn of the first World War from Frankfurt, Germany on October 26th, 1914. The sender was Nach Langer and the recipient Miss Elisabeth Kunst.