A postcard has finally been delivered – over a century late.
The relic dropped through farmer Keith Potter’s door this week – with a postmark of January 3, 1912.
It was addressed to a Vida Doel who once lived at the same address, but whose family left 87 years ago.
The card – in remarkably good condition – has a black and white photo of the fire brigade in Trowbridge, Wilts., with their horse-drawn carriages.
A pencil message is written on the back from 12 year-old Vida’s mother, giving her instructions to take a pony and meet her in Chippenham.
Farmer Keith, 65, of Christian Malford, nr Chippenham, Wilts., said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.
“We checked with the postman who delivers here a few days after we received it that he had delivered it and he said he did. He said it was in his delivery bag.
“Where has it been all these years? It’s not damaged. Wherever it has been, it has been kept really well. It hasn’t been affected by damp or mice.
“Had it fallen down the back of a desk or machine all these years?”
The postcard, with a half-penny stamp of King George V, was originally posted from Monkton Farleigh, nr Bradford on Avon, Wilts.
Paul Dauwalder, senior expert at stamp dealers Dauwalders of Salisbury, examined the postcard.
He said: “It was postmarked by hand at a sub post office in Monkton Farleigh on January 3 1912. It would have been sent for distribution to Chippenham. The stamp on the postcard is of King George V and it was issued at the end of 1911.
“The postcard is in good condition. It has probably got lost somewhere in the back of a sorting office or base. Mail such as this is sometimes found when redundant machinery is being taken away.
“In 1912 sending messages by mail was in its heyday. People would use the postal service like telephones now.
“If this postcard was posted before 11am in that postal area then the addressee should expect to receive it by teatime the same day.”
The card has a second, recent postmark which suggests it was rediscovered lately and put back into the postal system.
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “It is extremely unlikely that this item was in our system all this time.
“It is difficult to speculate what may have happened, but almost certainly it was put back in a post box very recently, as we regularly check all our sorting office and machines are cleared.
“There are also two postmarks – the original one and a very recent one. Everything points to this being put back in the Royal Mail system.”
Mr Potter has researched the Doel family and found they lived at Paradise Farm from 1907.
Tenant John Doel and wife Rose had four children – Gideon, Gladys, Madge and Vida who was born on May 2, 1899
The Doel family are thought to have left Paradise Farm in 1914.
** The message on the card reads: “Dear V. If you hear nothing else from us you can bring the pony into Chippenham and wait for us by JW Daniels as we should come over the steps come in steady; get there by 4 o’clock Thursday. Love to all from mother.”