Miss Helen Newbery


Changing horses on the Brighton coach at the White Horse Inn, Crawley. This ancient coaching inn had extensive stabling for horses

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Proprietor of a fancy repository and stationery shop, initially in the High Street, but by 1905 at 8 Brighton Road, Crawley. Helen Newbery specialised in embroidery, silks, needlework, wool and other types of fancy goods, as well as running a circulating library and servants' registry office. She seems to have established the business in 1903, too late to be included in Kelly's Sussex Directory for that year.It has not yet proved possible to locate her in the 1901 census returns for England and Wales.

Helen Newbery was born at 19 Percy Street in West London in about 1857. She never married. It is not known why she chose to live and work in Crawley. Postmarks suggest that she began selling postcards by the summer of 1903. At least five types of card have been noted:

1) Black and white halftone cards with white borders all round. "H. Newbery, High Street, Crawley" is printed in black on the left side of the lower border and "(Copyright)" on the right, with the caption centralised in between.
2) Black and white collotype multi-view cards labelled (a) "Crawley" and (b) "Views of Sussex" (Crawley, Balcombe, Handcross, Pease Pottage and Three Bridges) with "H. Newbery, High St., Crawley" on the back. A November 1905 postmark has been seen.
3) Coloured collotypes without borders and captions. These were printed in Saxony and have Newbery's name and Brighton Road address printed in green on the back.
4) Coloured halftones with captions printed in white capitals - it is not known where these originated. These have Newbery's name and the Brighton Road address on the back.
5) Coloured halftones with red captions and "H. Newbery, Publisher, Crawley" on the back. Versions are known issued by the London View Co. that make no reference to Newbery.
6) Real photographics with green backs and black borders to the left and right of the pictures but not above or below. These show the various bands that took part in a musical contest in Crawley on Whit Monday 1907. Newbery's name and the 8 Brighton Road address is rubber stamped on the back of the cards.

Judging from postmarks, sales of her cards peaked around 1906-7. By 1912 she had ceased trading and her premises had been taken over by Charles Tidy. She died early in 1913, aged 56.

The variety of card types that Helen Newbery issued, including real photographics, suggests that she was a genuine postcard publisher, not a mere retailer. This is in contrast to her rival, Mrs Martha Phillips, at 12 High Street, Crawley, who also sold fancy goods, as well as stationery and books and operated a lending library. Martha Phillips was in business by 1895, but retired by 1915.

Martha Philips marketed some attractive collotype cards of Crawley from 1905 onwards. What are thought to be the earliest collotypes have black and white or hand coloured pictures, with a white border underneath and centralised, printed captions (for example "London Road - Crawley" reproduced by Michael Goldsmith in his book, Crawley and district in old picture postcards, 1987, European Library, Zaltbommel, The Netherlands). The cards are labelled on the back "M. Phillips, The Library, Crawley". The colouring is generally soft and delicate, but on a few cards is strangely inept.

Apparently slightly younger are some unusual glossy collotypes that lack borders. The pictures often have a brownish silvery cast and can easily be mistaken for real photographics. The captions are very neatly handwritten in italic capitals with "M. Phillips, The Library, Crawley" written underneath, again in italics, but with capitals only at the start of words. A 1908 postmark has been recorded.

Both types of card, though very different in appearance, have a stamp space delineated on each of its four sides by the words "Pictorial Postcards" in minute lettering. Almost certainly, they were printed by the same manufacturer. As far as is known, Martha Philips did not issue any real photographic cards, and, given that she seems to have bought in cards from a single manufacturer, is probably best regarded as a retailer rather than an actual postcard publisher.

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