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Asia/China : Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

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Linus
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04 Dec 2018
08:20:04pm
Tonight I will share with the club a postcard that I just recently figured-out after having it in my postal history collection for years. The boring picture side shows a dull view of Yue Yuen botanical gardens in Hong Kong. The interesting part of this card is in the message. Without using Google, see if you can guess what the writer is talking about. I typed out the message for ease of reading, as part of it was written upside down:

April 19th 1912.
"What a terrible disaster! I fail to understand why so few only, escaped. Surely, with 47 water tight compartments they should have been able keep her afloat for some time, long enough to get passengers off, at least. Well I hope I'll get the real facts before we go to sea - which will be Tuesday - as I am just wild to know how such an (accident?) could happen. Oh, you great big beautiful ship."
Fond regards,
M.

Do you know what is up here? Check below for my guess as to what this writer is talking about.


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I think the writer was talking about the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912 as this postcard was mailed 4 days after that tragedy occurred, and news would have travelled around the world by then. According to Wikipedia, Titanic had 16, not 47, water tight compartments, and 5 of them were flooded by the gash in its hull. It could withstand no more than 4 flooded to stay afloat. The writer of this card was probably looking at a long voyage home to the U.S. and such news would make anyone nervous about sailing on any ship.

I welcome your comments,
Linus

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
05 Dec 2018
08:40:25am
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

that would have been, and still is, my guess too

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pigdoc
05 Dec 2018
11:12:31am
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

Yup.
I had to think a moment about what happened in April, 1912, but it came to me pretty quickly, without cheating.

One must attribute the message traveling around the world in 4 days or less to...the telegraph, no?

Actually, I find myself vicariously living in 1903-1912 quite a lot, with my research and interest in the pioneering years of manned, heavier-than-air flight.

Scored a crown jewel for my early aviation pioneer GPU postcard collection, from August 1908. I should have it in a few days, then I'll share it here.

-Paul

PS, what's up with the "GOLD FILLED" embossment at the top of the card?

PPS, from Wikipedia: "RMS Empress of India was an ocean liner built in 1890-1891 by Naval Construction & Armaments Co, Barrow-in-Furness, England for Canadian Pacific Steamships. This ship would be the first of two CP vessels to be named Empress of India, and on 28 April 1891, she was the very first of many ships named Empress arriving at Vancouver harbor.

Empress of India regularly traversed the trans-Pacific route between the west coast of Canada and the Far East until she was sold to the Maharajah of Gwalior in 1914 and renamed in 1915.... In February 1923, the ship was sold for scrapping at Bombay."

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ikeyPikey
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05 Dec 2018
12:58:27pm
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

Quote:

"... Surely, with 47 water tight compartments ..."



The displacement of the Titanic was 47,000 metric tons.

Just saying.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey (who is forever looking for inept metric conversions & clumsy misuses of mathematics)

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"I collect stamps today precisely the way I collected stamps when I was ten years old."
Linus
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05 Dec 2018
09:03:45pm
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

ikeyPikey - I like your kind of math. It is a definite possibility to explain how the writer came up with the 47 number. Of course, he probably read it in the newspaper, and the reporters of that time period would never let a few actual facts get in the way of telling a story like the Titanic.

pigdoc - I would think that the British had a telegraph system set up to relay the news of the day around the world and local newspapers to print it out. The "GOLD FILLED" embossment is a mystery, but perhaps it was a way for a local merchant to "mark" his postcards to deter theft. I am not sure, just a theory. The RMS Empress of India (RMS=Royal Mail Ship) was a ship owned by the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway Company) as discussed by the late Ningpo and I on the Stamporama thread linked below.

https://stamporama.com/discboard/disc_main.php?action=20&id=16091#121014

Thanks for the replies,

Linus

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Bobstamp
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06 Dec 2018
02:51:58pm
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

That’s a great postcard, just the type of item that could become a key item in a Titanic-themed collection.

People in Hong Kong must have learned about the sinking of Titanic within hours, not days. It’s hard to find precise information, but Hong Kong seems to have been connected to Europe by undersea telegraph cable in 1902.

Bob

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
06 Dec 2018
05:34:39pm
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912


The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1912-04-16, they certainly knew by the next day...

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Don

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Linus
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06 Dec 2018
05:44:19pm
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

Wow! Thanks, Don, for adding to this thread, that is really cool! Each article of this newspaper has the word "Telegrams" at the top of the column. Just as I thought, they were printing out what was received over the telegraph, and the news travelled fast.


Linus

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
06 Dec 2018
08:01:17pm
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

Hi Linus,
Here is the link
Link to Archived Newspaper

Note, you will need your browser to support Flash to be able to view the newspapers. (Some new browsers no longer support Flash.)

Don

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Linus
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07 Dec 2018
09:20:56am
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

Don,

Thank you for the link.

Linus

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Bobstamp
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07 Dec 2018
12:11:33pm
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

I'm always somewhat surprised when I learn that what I think of as a modern technology was actually in use decades before I was born. Telegraphy is one of those technologies.

Here's a map (from Wikipedia) showing the extent of one company's undersea cables in the year 1901:

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It looks like Hong Kong is included in the system, but the only date I could find for implementation of international service for Hong Kong was 1902. In any event, it looks like most major population centres around the world were well served by the beginning of the 20th Century. Long distance telephone conversation was a long time coming, however. I spent the years 1963-65 in Japan with the U.S. Navy, and was not able to speak with my family by telephone. In 1962, the military MARS radio-telephone system was established, and after I was wounded in Vietnam in 1966 I was able to speak with my parents via ham radio patches between the Philippines and New Mexico, but it wasn't an actual telephone call:

Me: Dad, it's Robert. Over.

Dad: Robert! Where are you? Over

Me: I'm in the Philippines. I was wounded, but I'll be OK. Over

My parents wouldn't receive written notification that I'd been wounded for another two weeks.

Bob

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Linus
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19 Dec 2018
05:55:55pm
re: Hong Kong Postcard From 1912

Bob - Thanks for your kind words and adding the telegraph cable map to this thread. Seeing all of those thousands of miles of cables back in 1901 was a surprise to me also, and their "networking" did create a means for news to travel fast around the world.

Just as a follow up on this postcard, using the CPR ship tables, I discovered the RMS Empress of India arrived in Hong Kong on March 28, 1912. The tables were blank for a date of departure from Hong Kong, but it departed eastbound from Yokohama, Japan on April 30, 1912 towards Canada. Using data from previous trips, it took 8 to 10 days to run from Hong Kong to Yokohama, so it should have left Hong Kong on Monday April 22, 1912. The writer of this postcard hoped he "got the real facts before we go to sea - which will be Tuesday." The RMS Empress of India would have been out on the open ocean heading for Yokohama on Tuesday April 23, 1912 with this postcard and it's writer both on board. The ship arrived safely in Victoria, BC Canada on May 11, 1912.

Linus

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