The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 awakens special emotions.
Even a century on, the day the guns fell silent on the Western Front is marked in ever-greater solemnity with red poppies and silent remembrance. No other day in the year is like it.
The Armistice Day peace which brought the Great War to an end was not unexpected, however. Large crowds waited patiently outside The Courier office in Albert Square for the latest news from the negotiations at Compiègne. But, curiously, another Dundee publisher jumped the gun entirely.
Illustrated is an envelope sent by the local company James Valentine & Co to Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on November 9, 1918 – two days before peace was declared.
The advertising lettersheet it contains offers six different Valentine ‘peace’ postcards, “ready for immediate delivery” – suggesting that the giant Dundee publishing company was eager to capitalise on opportunities for sales from the anticipated Armistice. Mono cards were priced at 4/- per dozen packets, with coloured cards at 5/6d per dozen. Each packet contained six assorted peace designs accompanied by the prescient pitch, “Victory! Peace!! May Be Here At Any Moment.”
The cards nowadays are rare and collectable.
Come November 11, Dundee was far ahead of many places in learning that the Armistice had been signed at five o’clock that Monday morning, allowing the authorities six hours to enact the truce. Before 40,000 early-rising workers had left the city’s mill and factory workplaces for their 8am breakfast break, the joyful tidings had been revealed by naval personnel in the estuary and had started to spread through the streets like the town’s famous marmalade!