I find it so interesting that the rather negative stereotype associated with higher order multiples is not a new concept. If we could go back to prehistoric times, I'm sure we'd find a similar sentiment. Perhaps even a cave-drawing such as this:
These are postcards I've collected lately, most being from the turn of the 20th Century. Prior to the advent of reproductive medicine, I'm sure triplets were quite a novelty. I'm not, however, sure why it seems to have been a fairly popular theme. One thing is certain. The sentiment is the same as it appears to be today - the whole good-golly-better-you-than-me feeling.
One thing of interest is the lack of a triplet-related message from the senders. Of the postcards that were postmarked, not one made reference to the card's theme in the message to the recipient (apart from poking fun at them on the front). Why the senders chose these cards is a mystery.
I'm greatly amused by these postcards and am intrigued by the deep-conditioning (albeit brainwashing) sense of dread that triplets bring to our society. I, as a mother of triplets, will continue to fiercely defend my blessings in triplicate, despite the longstanding stereotype.
Anyway, here they are...
From the early 1900's. I love the double entendre of this one. Here's one where one of the babies has the Podee-type straw bottle. Interesting.
deer mister stork we hav xammined your line ov sampels . will kiep the girrl pleas send for the rest yurstrooly Tommy
Early 1900's. Big brother overwhelmed by his new siblings.This is the only one that is not a postcard, but I thought it apropos for this page.
This one was from the 1930's. Notice the dozens of cigarette butts scattered about his feet. And yes, I've heard that "tax deduction" comment a few times.
Postdated 1917. Notice that in the third shot, the dad's got two fair-skinned babies and one darker-skinned baby.
Postmarked 1914. In French. Rejoice, resign, despair. This theme seemed to be popular. That poor poor family with triplets and an older sibling (I say with sarcasm).
"Gosh, Mum. Will you keep dad or have him doctored?"
Not postmarked. I love this one. Doctored is another word for neutered. I've been asked a similar question by strangers who've wanted to know if "we're done" having kids.
"Yes - Muvver can go to the pictures now!"
What did they do to entertain babies before Baby Einstein? Early headphones like these suggest this one to be 1920s. Lucky mom to keep her babies occupied so she can see a movie.
"Rejoice. Resign. Despair."
Postmarked 1908. Another one in French. Reference is made to names and includes the comments, "The Desire," "Upcoming," "Desire Accomplished." This seems to be, from what I can gather, the only postcard where, though the postcard's theme is negative in nature, the sender is offering an upbeat alternative.
Postmarked 1909. The term "dreadnoughts" came from HMS Dreadnoughts (1906), the first battleship to use all "big-gun" artillery. All other ships paled in comparison. Anything that was considered above and beyond the norm was referred to as a dreadnought. This term went into obscurity soon after.
The handwritten scrawl across the bottom says "Aren't they cute?"
"Which one would you like to keep?" And then handwritten below, "There doesn't any one of them look good to me. How about you?"
Postmarked 1912. Dad's going to drown two. I found the handwritten comment interesting.
Not postmarked, but from 1908. Dad needed an icepack to deal with his children. I love the bottle. Wish I'd had one of those! Similar to the Podee baby bottles parents of multiples love.
Postmarked 1907. The title makes reference to an Arthur Collins song. Arthur Collins was known for songs that would now be considered extremely racially insensitive and offensive. I contemplated not including this one, but it is a sign of those particular times, so I'm including it anyway.
"It is rather more than I expected."
Not postmarked. Judging by the Victorian nursemaid, I'd say this was from the turn of the century. Notice the look of horror on the father's face.
Postmarked 1907. A variation on the leather one shown below. The really interesting thing about this one is the handwritten comment on the front..."(which one)" and "3 - 2 = 1" above the 3 X 1 = 3. Such negativity surrounding triplets, huh?
"If we were to lose one, would it spoil the set?"
This one has no date and was not postmarked, but the style is indicative of the 1920s postcards.
"Yes, when 'is wife 'ad triplets the Mayor presented 'im with a silver cup. Do 'e keep the cup or do 'e 'ave to win it three times running?"
"Mr. Jolly is overjoyed. 3 X 1 = 3"
Postmarked 1906. This is an interesting leather postcard. What's with the 3 X 1 = 3? Why not 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, or 2 + 1 = 3?
"Which one do you want to keep?"
Postmarked 1907. Wow. A variation of another one above. This guy is going to drown two of his triplets!
Not postmarked, but has the same style as one postmarked 1908. This card had a spring/musical type mechanism in the back. It probably had a "baby cry" sound to it, but it was broken. The letters on the front are gilded metal. Pretty elaborate for a postcard. Dad looks like he's going to tip them over.