An iceberg in the South Pacific

An original and a David Aldersley copy

As shown in my 2018 book X8 – Early New Zealand Shipping Company Postcards and their Photographers, available to purchase here – often real photo postcards were re-published with changed text on the front. Sometimes the change happened when the cards were reproduced by David Aldersley, a prolific New Zealand-based photographer. However, David Aldersley was not the photographer in this case, the photograph was probably either by Henry George Keyse or Peter Zerface, barbers and photographers working for the New Zealand Shipping Company. My book illustrates a few postcards which have had reprints with changes made. These include photographs of stormy sea views from the deck of ships, as well as icebergs in the South Pacific.

I recently purchased another South Pacific iceberg postcard. This shows the original photograph before it was re-photographed and re-published by David Aldersley. The Aldersley version of the card is included in my book X8. This original has the advantage of a very interesting, although quite difficult to read, message on the back. It was written on board the S.S. Remuera on 18th December 1914, just over four months after the start of the first World War.

This voyage would be the first part of the ninth return voyage of the Remuera which left London on 27th November, 1914 bound for New Zealand, and returned to the UK on 25th March 1915.

Dramatic view of an iceberg in the South Pacific, photographed c.1914
The back of the “original” real photo postcard was written on board the S.S. Remuera on 18th December 1914, just over four months after the start of the first World War.

The following is a very rough transcription of the message on the back of the postcard.

We saw this iceberg coming home – SS Reumera
December 18th 1914
Cape Town tomorrow. Very good trip so far. No excitements. We have kept well to the west of trade route and have passed very few ships. British cruisers have been in our only neighbourhood for several days. We have heard ••• talking, but have not spoken to them. No wireless news since two days out from Tenerife and are longing for news. I wonder what we shall hear tomorrow. Quite pleasant fellow passengers – not wildly interesting. Less heat in tropics than usual. Cricket match this afternoon. Second class ladies beat us by 3 runs! Ships-board life wonderfully ••• affected by the war – no lights on deck at night is the only difference. Now the days are lengthening out, and the trade winds are less strong yesterday and today tho still dead ahead of our route. ••• have been poor. Busy preparing a Christmas for 90 children on board! Much love yours S.S. •••

The re-print postcard (below) is illustrated in my book (page 28) with my following text:
If you look closely at the top and right edges of the actual image there appears to be a slight shadow. This suggests to me that the original photograph has been re-photographed to make this postcard.

Note that the text on the front has been changed with the addition of “Passed by R.M.S. Ruahine”. This is interesting because it seems that the original postcard, above, may have been purchased on the Remuera.

David Aldersley’s re-photographed copy of the South Pacific iceberg postcard
The back of the David Aldersley postcard. This is reference “O(1)” in my catalogue of postcard backs, available to download free of charge here.

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