Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Royal Army Service Corps

This is an embroidered silk card from World War I, with the initials A.S.C.

Those letters could stand for any of the following:
American Society of Cinematographers
Artichoke Society of Canberra
Aeronautical Systems Center
Association of Society Cadavers
Ambulatory Surgical Center

In this case, the letters stand for the Army Service Corps, although they were sometimes referred to as Ally Sloper's Cavalry, after a contemporary rent-dodging, drunkard cartoon character.  However, the truth is that this corps played a very important role in World War I. Their name was changed to the Royal Army Service Corps. in 1918.
The A.S.C. was responsible for transport and supply of food, equipment,  munitions and other supplies on and off the battlefield. Although they were instrumental in winning the war, they are considered unsung heroes, because they rarely recognized for their importance.
Here's the back of the card. Silk cards from WWI were typically made in France.
Jo from Scotland recently posted some amusing old photos of the Royal Army Service Corps. Click here to see them.


  1. Association of Society Cadavers?! I know a few of those! Very neat card. Can you imagine that much effort/detail going into a postcard today?

  2. I can just see the 'flap' of that lovely embroidered envelope getting ripped off in a modern mail sorting machine... I assume the sale of these cards raised funds for the ASC, any idea what they cost compared to a typical paper post card of the day? The embroidery work is not fine, but imagine the time spent to make one card- I assume they are hand done.

  3. Staggering effort for a card. Were such cards sent through the post or too precious for that and hand delivered.

    I like the idea of an Artichoke corp.


  4. These cards were designed to be sent as postcards, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one that was postmarked. I think before modern machine sorting, many delicate items made it through the mail unscathed.

  5. This is lovely. I remember having something like it very long ago. I have no idea what it happened to it. This has reminded me to post something fun my friend Bert gave me a few months ago. I'll post it tomorrow.

  6. Dear Anonymous,
    Yes, the cards were considered expensive, but I don't know exactly what they would have cost at the time. As I understand it, very few of these cards were actually hand embroidered. Although there's still extra work involved, there were machines that did the actual embroidery. Here's a link that talks about the process a little: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art65119.asp

  7. a lovely little work of art. It's so nice you are documenting them.
    thanks for your well wishes Christine, I'm starting to feel better!

  8. Wow...great cards!
    Altho linen ones are not good at absorbing ink for maximaphily purposes.
    Embroided...was that started by Sigmund Breud?
    My Hawaii items were treasure-hunted in a local store. It's nifty to be thrifty, sometimes. :)

  9. Local store in Herndon, VA, that is.
    Moral: sometimes, the best source is not "at the source". Not in Hawai'i.

  10. Great postcard. I haven't run across one like this. Very detailed and definitely catches the eye. I'm not surprised they were handled nicely en route back in the day.



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