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World War One Postcards

I picked up a couple of postcards at an antique shop. Both have WW1 themes and I found that rare in my limited experience. Both have obvious mistakes. Here they are:

Maxim or "Maxium" Machine Gun.

Maxim or “Maxium” Machine Gun.

The first postcard features American soldiers with their distinctive campaign hats practicing with a “Maxium Machine Gun.” The Small Arms Defense Journal indicates that American troops did use the Model 1904 Maxim Machine Gun. The word “Maxium” on the post card is either a spelling mistake or a hearing mistake or both! The card was published by H.H. Stratton, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Maxim Machine Gun was invented by an American born British inventor by the name of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim. The weapon is most associated with British Imperial conquest according to Wikipedia. 

The Maxim had a rather short shelf life in the American Army and was replaced by a model made by Browning in 1917.

Taken from American lines???

Taken from American lines???

While the first card’s error may be understandable the second card’s error is simply comical.

The care features a supposed German charge with fixed bayonets across a field. Remarkably, the caption says the photo was taken from American lines in France.

I’m not sure where to start but let’s start with America’s entry into WW1 in April, 1917.

The Germans in the photo are wearing early war uniforms complete with the pickelhaube helmet which was replaced by the more famous “coal scuttle” helmet in 1916. Since we did not enter the war until 1917 any Germans charging American lines would not look like this much less be arranged is a parade ground “charge.”

Young German soldier wearing the late war "coal scuttle" helmet.

Young German soldier wearing the late war “coal scuttle” helmet (1916-1918).

Young German soldier wearing the distinctive "pickelhaube" helmet, 1914-16.

Young German soldier wearing the distinctive “pickelhaube” helmet, 1914-16.

Second, we were at war with Germany and if the picture was taken from American lines it was taken from captured American lines probably with a captured camera held by a captured camera man.

By best guess is that the photo was probably taken in 1914 by the Germans themselves and featured training. They probably gave cards like this to their own troops to send home to wives and sweethearts.

What may have happened when we entered the war the rush was on to find pictures of the “huns” as German troops were referred too. The photo was floating about  and the publisher grabbed it and put an imaginary caption on it. The card was published by the Chicago Daily News. G.J. Kananaugh. It appears to have been endorsed by the War Department because it also says on the back, War Postal Card Department.

French cartoon illustrating America's anger at Germany for sinking the Lusitania. The sinking of the Lusitania and the Zimmermann telegram turned an isolationist America against Germany.

French cartoon illustrating America’s anger at Germany for sinking the Lusitania. The sinking of the Lusitania and the Zimmermann telegram turned an isolationist America against Germany.

Never-the-less, the two cards were fun finds at low-cost. The shop had a few more and I may return to get a few more.

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6 comments on “World War One Postcards

  1. The portrait of the young German Lieutenant is a nice one. Can you read the number on his shoulder boards?

  2. Great finds, Bruce! Thanks for sharing them.

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