Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tram Tuesday - Hannover, Germany

This unassuming card is special in a couple of ways. For one thing it is a very early card, sent in 1899, and showing an electric tram.  Although there is no message, the recipient and the story surrounding him, manage to trump the card itself.

The other element that's unusual is the City of Hannover's tram service. Hannover started out like many cities with horse-drawn trams, transitioning to electric trams. Bus service was also introduced for rural routes, but the tram service remained until the real transition, to light rail, started taking place in 1975. Some of Hannover's tram cars are now transporting passengers in Budapest, Hungary.

I am curious about the sender of the card. There is no message, but there appears to be a name, "Eustacie", on the front of the card. The recipient is Monsieur Philippe de Las Cases, at the Château de la Baume in Marvejols, Lozere, France. I occasionally check to see if I can find anything about the recipients of the cards I post. I don't usually find houses like this, but this is where Philippe lived:

These days the château is open to visitors. You can see more photographs and read the history (in French) at this site.

Here's what I know about Philippe. He was born in 1881 and wrote a book on the rustic art of Brittany. His father was Emmanuel, Count de Las Cases and a Senator of the 3rd French Republic.  Philippe's great uncle, was also Count Emmanuel (1766-1842), a hugely successful atlas maker, and a great admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte.  The count accompanied Napoléon on his exile to St. Helena, where he acted as his secretary, recording his thoughts and later memorializing them in Mémorial de Ste Hélène. 

Apparently the count also made efforts to teach Napoleon English during their time in St. Helena. Earlier this year a letter that Napoleon wrote to the count, in very broken English, was being auctioned in June, 2012 and was expected to fetch £65,000. Instead, it ended up selling for £325,000.

Part of the château is dedicated to the time spent at St. Helena and some of the memories and souvenirs from the trip.

Here's the back of the card with a big inky fingerprint.


  1. Remarkable, from Hannover trams to Napoleon's memoires. The chateau looks well worth a visit.

  2. I played the Comte de Las Cases in a play about Napoleon's exile when I was at secondary school. The only line I remember, or rather part of a line, was, "Bellerophon was also shipped off to a foreign country ..." My sister may remember more, as she had to put up with helping me learn my lines in the school holidays. What fun to see this.

  3. Sounds like you went to a more serious school than I did Brett, since my major dramatic role was the lead in 'The Elf That Didn't Like Christmas'... Of course, it was only first grade, but I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that my childhood school district has never and will never do a play about Napoleon at any grade level.



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