This is one of the most special things I have had in my possession, which I purchased from a dealer in Paris. Inside the plain looking notebook are 90+ pages filled to the edges with beautifully handwritten songs and wonderful drawings of a fantastic cast of soldiers, performers, prostitutes, and more, which together create quite a portrait of early 20th century French cabaret culture a la the Moulin Rouge. I have been able to determine that at least some of the lyrics are from popular songs of the era--La Valse de la Mariee, (The Bride's Waltz), for example, but I have not been able to find references for the majority. The date of October 1904 appears early in the book. Photographs document some but not all of the drawings and text. In total: 92 pages total filled, 63 of them with drawings on them. I am posting lots of photos (but there are more pages than shown here) to provide a good sense of it, and just for the pleasure of sharing!
I've been sitting on this a while, thinking I might do some work in attempt to translate, but ultimately that is never going to happen and I will leave it to someone else. In the meantime, though, I purchased a hand-drawn postcard from a seller in Montreal which I am 99% sure was drawn and written by the same person, revealed to be a F. Mayor. It is dated 1912, and sent to Rumilly, France from Lausanne, Switzerland, where, it is clear from the text, Mayor was stationed as an officer in the French Army. (The combination of the postcard and songbook full of soldiers, including perhaps some self-portraits, and the fact that the postcard is written to a Sargent, makes me think Mayor likely served in the military over many years.) It seems there were French troops stationed in Lausanne well before WWI, and Lausanne was the site of the signing of a 1912 treaty ending the Italo-Turkish war.
I was able to translate enough of the postcard to think his relationship with the recipient may have been an intimate one. (In addition to the fact of the drawing itself, with this sexy smoking figure in black at right, he describes his impatience of not hearing from the recipient and asks whether it is the case that he will never again have the pleasure of shaking his hand, other than by writing or mutually firing cannons. (my translation is very literal!) He also notes that he drew the image on the front specifically for him, showing the changing of the guard at the Lausanne barracks.
Anyway! I am including the postcard along with manuscript as I do believe they are two parts of a whole, and in hopes someone might be interested in digging further into them.
Notebook dimensions approx. 8 5/8" x 6 3/4". Good condition. Wear to the binding, with a few pages at the center where white tape was added where the binding has cracked. The first inside page shows staining and foxing, and there are a few additional pages that show some wetting/bleeding. There are several pages toward the end with just drawings, then several pages that appear to have been written later with ballpoint pen, unillustrated, followed by blank pages.
Postcard: 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" and in excellent condition.