Monday, October 31, 2011

"Faire sans Dire", le Comte de Reiset


This is a cover of a letter send from Helsingør on 22 january 1865 to Hanover. Helsingør (also known as Elsinore in English) is a city on the northeast coast of the island of Zealand (Danish: Sjælland) in eastern Denmark. Hanover is in North Germany, about 520 kilometer southwest of Helsingør.  

(Stamp Hanover, 1856)

The letter was send to an official of the Franch state: someone with the rank of a minister.

What was the political situation in Hanover 1865? After Napoleon I imposed the Convention of Artlenburg (Convention of the Elbe) in 1803, about 30,000 French soldiers occupied Hanover. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 elevated the electorate to the Kingdom of Hanover. In 1837, the personal union of the United Kingdom and Hanover ended as William IV's heir in the United Kingdom was female (Queen Victoria).

(The House of Hanover - 15 September 2011 - stamps and miniature sheet. The penultimate Kings & Queens issue covers the Hanoverian era from 1714 to 1901).

According to Salic Law Hanover could only be inherited by males.
As a consequence, Hanover passed to William IV's brother, Ernest Augustus, and remained a kingdom until 1866, when it was annexed by Prussia during the Austro-Prussian war.
Gustave Armand Henri, Comte de Reiset, 1821-1905 was a "ministre plénipotentiaire" of Napoleon III of France in Hanover.

(Stamp Napoleon III)
De Reiset was ennobled by King Louis-Philippe and adopted the "devis" : "Faire sans Dire" (do without saying).  He was also member of the Conseil General of the Eure, a region in France. He owned a castle there.

(Photos: French Ministère de la culture - base Mémoire)

These are photos of his "Château du Breuil" in Haute-Normandie; Marcilly-sur-Eure (photo around 1900 - 1920).  The Comte de Reiset acquired the Breuil in 1842. The church, at that time, served as a barn. Restored in part, it was destined again to worship in 1854 and then turned into a museum by de Reiset. He filled the museum with objects he reported from his travels. It was possible to admire numerous paintings and ancient statues. De Reiset died in 1905, the church passed to his heirs. The building building was hardly maintained during the second half of the 20th century. Objects of art were scattered and the building fell in despair.
It was classified as an Historical Monument in 1993 and acquired in 1995 by a couple who then started the restoration. It cannot be visited today.  
You can google some artefacts that formerly belonged to Mr. de Reiset, such as this portrait of the famous painter Ingres, this painting is entitled Madame Aymon or  "La Belle Zelie". 

This painting was auctioned in 1870, the same year that Napoleon III lost his war against the Prussians at Sedan and it was the end of his reign.

I have a second cover of a letter written to the same Comte de Reiset. It was sent in 1862 from  Frankfurt to Darmstadt.

I do not know about where these covers come from and who took interest to keep them all these years. I bought them in the US, but no story came along with them.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The role of ladies and girls in the Great War 1914-1918

If you collect stamps, you risk finding other documents, such as old post cards. When I came across this one during a visit to one of the many "brocantes" that are held in the streets in France, I was intrigued by the text as well as the monocle of the officer on the card. An impeccable French officer with a German, bavarian, standard.

It reads "Le Premier Drapeau du Bataillon (I B.VI 132.IVB) d'Infanterie Bavaroise pris par le 10ième chasseur à pied". The standard of the 1st Bavarian Batallion taken by the French. I understand it is a classical card, well known by the collectors.

The text on the card is one of a father, seemingly participating in the war, writing to his young daughter.

In French it reads (lacking interpunction in the original):

"Puisque les classes sont recommencer il faut travailler ;  comme je te le disais dans ma précedente lettre, c'est indispensable. Et jouer il ne faut pas toujours songer à la guerre ni à ses conséquences : c'est l'affaire des hommes les dames et les jeunes filles se doivent les premiers aux enfants et les secondes au travail et de cette façon chacun remplit son devoir dans la nation. Le plus beau drapeau que tu puisse gagner sur ton champs de bataille particulier, c'est ton tableau d'honneur et la place
de première dans toutes les compositions. Je m'arrête ma chère Mignonne en t'embrassent bien fort. Ton père qui t'aime beaucoup" (signature illisible)

I am translating it as follows:

"As classes have resumed you should work : as I said in my previous letter this is indispensable. And play you should not always worry about the war neither about its consequences: it is the business of men and the ladies and the young girls should firstly care about the children and secondly about the work and in this way everybody does his duty for the nation. The most beautiful flag you can win on your own battle field is the table of honnor and the first place in all compositions.  I am stopping here my Lovely and give you a big hug. Your father that loves you much". (cannot read signature)