With the festive season approaching, Rob Curphey delves into the M.C.C archive for items containing a Christmas theme.
The collection has acquired many different types of Christmas cards over the years; some from M.C.C. touring teams, copies of the annual Christmas card issued by M.C.C. every year, and others which have an unusual relevance to cricket...
M.C.C. Touring Teams
The archive holds a number of Christmas Cards sent by players and the M.C.C. teams whilst playing Test series abroad over the winter. Below is a card sent home by members of the M.C.C. team which toured Australia during the ‘Bodyline’ series in 1932-1933, designed by Arthur Mailey, an Australian Test cricketer between 1920 and 1926 who also was a gifted cartoonist who worked for the Daily Telegraph amongst other publications.
The cartoon depicts the M.C.C. team with their captain, Douglas Jardine, holding a banner that reads ‘Christmas Greetings 1932’. The two figures on the far right are Sir Pelham Warner and R C H Palairet, the Manager and Assistant Manager for the tour. The inside of the card reveals that it was sent by Wally Hammond, and Hammond also sent a Christmas card home during the M.C.C. tour of South Africa in 1938-1939, which he captained. This card contained a map of the locations the team visited during the tour, and a team photograph inside.
M.C.C. Christmas Cards
The archive contains two scrapbooks detailing the history of Christmas cards sold by MCC in the immediate post-war period. The designs for the image usually consisted of images of portraits from the M.C.C. Collection. The M.C.C. Christmas card for 1960, issued for M.C.C. Members and Associate Members only, contained a picture of Henry Garland’s ‘The Winner of the Match’ which had been donated to M.C.C. the previous year by H A Doubleday, and presently hangs in the Long Room.
This Christmas Card is noticeable for the unusual design of the M.C.C. logo, which places the ‘M’ in front of both of the letter C’s, which stand side by side. This design seems to have been short lived; indeed, it was never used on M.C.C. headed notepaper at the time.
The ‘I Zingari’ Christmas Card
Of all the Christmas cards I have seen in the archive, this is one of the most unusual, relating to I Zingari, one of the most famous wandering cricket clubs. I Zingari was founded on 4 July 1845, at a dinner following a cricket match.
On that day, William Boland, a barrister, took a party of cricketers, to Harrow to play against the school team, and after they won the match, some of the players had dinner with both Bolland and cricket enthusiast J Loraine Baldwin. During the dinner, they all agreed that it would be a good idea to create an amateur wandering cricket club.
When the time came to decide on a name for the Club, one player, R P Long, murmured, ‘The Zingari, of course’ before falling asleep. The name is Italian for ‘The Gypsies’. Boland and Baldwin were named President and Vice-President respectively.
This Christmas card was made in 1925 and sent by the then Earl of Dartmouth, Viscount Lewisham, who later became MCC President in 1932. The Christmas card contains a picture of Father Christmas dressed in an I Zingari blazer, holding a bat and being hit on the head by a cricket ball, causing his presents to fall from his sack. The card contains verses of poetry dedicated to subjects including cricket, fashion, Eton College, Parliament, and even British summer time – which many of us are most definitely missing right now!