Welcome to The Ephemera Society Website
News   About Us   Membership   Events   Links


Image of charity election card  1864

Charity Election Card

  • January Election Card
  • To the Governors and Subscribers of The London Orphan Asylum, Clapton
  • 114 x 76mm (4½ x 3in)
  • 1864

The London Orphan Asylum, a charitable institution to help orphan children, was founded in 1813. It was supported by subscriptions and donations from the wealthy and esteemed citizens of the city; "a one guinea annual subscription, or a ten guinea life subscription, entitled the donor to a single vote at each election, while a double subscription brought two votes".

Elections for admission occurred twice a year, this meant that any applicant had to secure as many votes as possible to "win" a place. Bertha Bellasis Shepherd, aged ten years, had some prominent names from the city of Exeter in her support but it is not known how many votes the card constituted or how many were needed to get her a place.

Bertha's father had died in Australia leaving his wife and five children unprovided for. The widow and children were living with her aged parents, who were quite unable to support them. The story attached to this small piece of ephemera tells a sorrowful tale of woe and heartache, which offered little hope for the many yet provided a safety net for the successful few.

Diana Mackarill, "Charity Elections", The Ephemerist, No 104, March 1999
The London Orphan Asylum: The Children's Home website



This regular feature shows special items from members’ own collections. Submissions by email should include a scan of the item.