Wednesday, October 06, 2004

W. Reginald Bray

This image should have accompanied the poem on a previous blog but here it is courtesy of the scanner.
Here is proof that Mr. Bray did exist and he's not an invention of my fevered imagination! This Churchman's card (printed and given away with cigarettes in the 1930's) describes how Reginald was a pioneer of postal curios- gathering a fantastic collection of objects that he submitted to the postal system to test it. The smallest object he sent was a bee and the largest an elephant! He also carved his address into a turnip and sent that and it arrived intact. He also sent a bicycle pump, a hat, a shoe, gloves, etc. In the photo he is holding a shirt collar and shirt front he sent to himself.
He also collected thousands of autographs on self addressed stamped postcards he sent out to royalty, archbishops, statesmen and celebrities which they sent back to him.
Also he was the first to drop mail from a gas filled balloon over Belgium long before the first air mail post was started. An incredible man and sadly almost forgotten except by me and few postal curio enthusiasts.


Syl said...

Interesting gent, there. And puts me in mind of a few projects. He mailed an elephant?!!! How would you like to find him on the front step? Tried to install the statistics counter but failed miserably...and you said it was simple! Blinking blonde here. An alphabet collage...nice theme...if there is time I shall give it some effort. Ta.

scrapatorium said...

What happened to his collection? He would make a fascinating book.

michael said...

I'm only quoting what written on the back of this cigarette card. I'm sure there's a little artistic license involved in the phrase "posted an elephant". maybe he just got London Zoo to send it on his behalf? I'm sure the elephant didnt have the address written on its leathery hide with a big brush but you never know.
I tried to find out more about the mysterious Mr. bray but neither the Bath Postal Museum or the London Postal Museum had ever heard of him. Some postcard fanatics at the Postcard Magazine said they had heard of him and his postcards sometimes turn up in auctions but as far as they new his vast collection was dispersed when he died in the 1940's. So no idea what happened to the turnip or the collar and shirt front. I like to think they are preserved somewhere and will surface one day on the Antiques Roadshow!

Jonathan said...

Well, shouldn't we try to recreate some of these wonderful postal performances ???
How do yo address a leek ???

Syl said...

Jonathan, I've warned you about leeking before!

michael said...

I did actually recreate a couple of his postal "curios" back in the 80's I sent myself some gloves and shirt collars and framed them with the Bray card for an exhibition. I still have them somewhere.
Over the years I have been sent many "objects" that he would have been happy to exhibit with his own postal curios, including some paper knickers from Crackerjack Kid, a 78 shellac record form Nigel Bents and a hammer from PLG to name but a few.

DrFluxbuxenstein said...

Thanks for posting about Mr. Bray. It's good to know about him. Do you think Ray Johnson had ever heard about him? Who IS the father of mail art?