Monday, January 31, 2011

Recklesss Driving

Here are some humorous cards from the early days of automobiles. It was quickly recognized that people didn't see as much when they were driving, and that there were resulting conflicts with pedestrians and livestock.  There also weren't any lane dividers in the very early days of the automobile, so urban driving must have been very chaotic.

On that note, I would also like to announce the winners of the walking app. giveaway for iPhones and iPods from two weeks ago. I thank you for participating, and I will be contacting you to email you the code you need to get your app. Here are the winners:
Alan Burnett and Kakihara will both be getting walking tours of New York City.
Brian (from Paper Sponge) will get a walking tour of San Francisco.
Mark S. and Christine Wallace will both get tours of Prague, and
Judy from Judy's Notebook will be getting a tour of Tokyo.
It was interesting to me to see what locations you chose - all great choices!
Happy travels, and stay on the sidewalks to avoid crazy drivers.

The first card refers to the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Section 54 addressed a long list of nuisances, but did not anticipate the advent of the automobile. They were merely trying to address the problems of wild horse-cart driving.

In addition to furious driving, here are some other activities that were outlawed:
  • Driving carts on the footway.
  • Selling or distributing "profane, indecent or obscene books, papers, prints, drawings, paintings or representations", or singing any songs or ballads with similar content or using language "to the annoyance of pedestrians or passengers".
  • Threatening or abusive behaviour or words.
  • The blowing of horns (except by guards and postmen of the General Post Office.)
  • Discharging firearms, setting fireworks or lighting bonfires.
  • "Wantonly disturbing" persons by ringing doorbells, knocking on doors or unlawfully extinguishing lamps.
  • Flying kites or playing games to the annoyance of others.
  • Making slides upon ice or snow to the danger of pedestrians.

Here are the backs of the cards in the same order. The first one is interesting, because it was printed just before it became permissible to write a message on the back of the card. Before March 1, 1907, you could only write the address on the back of the card, which is why many people tried to scribble a message on the front.

The second postcard is from prior to 1907. Note that there's no space for a message here.


  1. Most interesting...our perennial fascination for horse power.

  2. Great cards, I like all the activity and how the drivers are hunched over, going at speed. Reminds me of Mr Toad in Wind in the Willows "Oh bliss. What dust clouds shall spring up behind me as I speed on my way"

  3. Those are both fantastic cards, love the huge feet of the policeman on the first, and the driver looking like evil incarnate on the second! Based on the list of outlawed activities, I'm guessing that most people would be in jail if they were still enforced today...

  4. Fantastic cards! Oh, and I almost forgot....

  5. I never saw one with instructions about correspondence after March 1, 1907 before.

  6. I love humorous card and both of these definitely qualify. And I almost prefer the ones with messages scribbled on the front. Always makes me think about what if we still did that this way.

  7. Love the cards! And I bet those cars drove about as fast as one of today's scooters!

  8. You are right about the top speed of most cars at that time, Aimee, which did 20-30 MPH. Not all though, as some race cars topped 100 MPH, and the 1906 Stanley Steamer actually clocked at 127!

  9. Interesting post and card !!

    Thanks for the informative detail like the evidence of postcard in ealy year.

  10. Wow, I'm a winning. Thanks for the opportunity to participate. I will make use of the app in June when I am in NY

  11. Great post. Very interesting story. It's almost as if they were portraying cars going 100 miles an hour.

    I'm a winner! Gotta pack my bags for San Fran!

  12. Another great intersting card backside design too -- I like that little Bee!



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