Postmarked July 6, 1909

Picture Postcards in the United States 1893-1918 by George and Dorothy Miller:

“As one of the most ephemeral of popular art forms, postcards managed to capture countless little events of social history. One interesting example is an anonymous card (series 695), printed in Germany but sold in the United States, which depicts in a  drawing a rather stocky Frenchman on roller skates holding onto a ribbon attached to an attractive young woman, also on skates.  the verse message reads:

This looks like old Count Boni

A native of Gay ‘Paree’

Who tried to get gay

With an American girl

But was handed a ‘cute’

“Twenty Three.”

The reference is to the Comte Boniface de Castelllane, an impoverished French aristocrat who married on March 4, 1895, the American heiress Anna Gould, daughter of Jay Gould.  Boni was the first Frenchman to marry an American heiress.  On Anna’s $15 million dowry, the petite Boni (he weighed less than 100 pounds) established an incredibly opulent life-style in Paris where he built his sumptuous Palais Rose, a mansion of pink marble lit only by candles.  In five years of marriage, Boni spent $3 million and incurred debts of $4.6 million.  In 1906, Anna divorced him, testifying to his frequent abuse of her, his failure to provide her with an adequate allowance (from her own money!), and his numerous romantic pursuits.  Boni was returned to his original impoverished aristocratic state.  Later, in 1923, Boni wrote and syndicated for newspaper publication his story, How I Won and Lost Anna Gould’s Millions.

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Published in: on January 3, 2011 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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