One of the hardest postcards that I am having finding is “chimney sweep” postcards. I expected that they would be somewhat easier to find since chimney sweeps are good luck symbols in Great Britain, Germany, Poland, Romania, Austria and other countries. And then have you ever seen a Bert postcard from Mary Poppins? I haven’t. I do have four sweep postcards in my collection and am hoping to find more 🙂
There is no clear history to the legend of chimney sweeps being good luck. One English legend is about a chimney sweep saving King George II, who was travelling in his royal carriage when one of the horses was startled by a barking dog. Another English legend has it that in 1066 King William of Britain was pushed out of the way of a runaway horse and carriage. In both instances, the King declared chimney sweeps good luck symbols. A third English legend refers to the tradition of chimney sweeps as good luck at weddings – a chimney sweep fell off a building, being caught by a gutter. A young woman, who was engaged to another, pulled him to safety through a window, they fell in love and got married.
The German superstition of sweeps as good luck is a little more logic based. Chimney sweeps kept the house from catching on fire – as well as kept it safe to cook food. Seems reasonable to me.
The tradition of the sweeps wearing top hat and tales is a little less romantic. The sweeps used to wear the cast-off clothing of the funeral owners. Or, if you would prefer the romantic version, King William of Britain invited the sweep that saved him to the Princess’ wedding and thus sweeps wear top hats and tails just in case they are invited to another wedding (some sweeps now rent themselves out to weddings to bring the couple luck). There was even a chimney sweep at Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s wedding in 1947 (you can identify him with his brush around 0:49)
It is good luck to touch the clothing of a chimney sweep, turn a coat button or be kissed by one on your wedding day. AND, if you see one on New Years Day (especially with a pig), it will be good luck and prosperity for a whole year!
Oh, and BTW, the largest chimney sweep in the world is in McPherson, Kansas. Just in case you needed to know.