We are always buying postcards and photos from before 1950 - email us at circa1910@tampabay.rr.com.

Friday, April 30, 2010


This post illustrates some of the many fun puzzle postcards produced between 1900 and the 1940s - above we have a reverse written message which becomes readable when held to a mirror.  The artist Dwig made many delightful designs using this trick, with pretty ladies declaring their romantic feelings in reverse writing.  The example above includes a pun - turn-of-the-century postcard designers loved to use puns!

Above are two early flat rebus postcards where pictures are used instead of words.  In the top card there's an example of negating part of a word to make the puzzle work, where the waiter is shown followed by ER being crossed out to make WAIT.    Children's puzzle books still make good use of the rebus, and further along we will see some rebus designs that capture colorful children's dreams of Christmas.

   To the left are two beautifully illustrated colorful rebus puzzles of old sayings... ALL (awl) is not GOLD that glitters...and A POT goes often to the WELL but is BROKEN at last.
 An even more elaborately designed series is shown at the right, with pretty embossed floral borders...these, too, illustrate popular sayings.  A BIRD in the HAND is worth TWO BIRDS in the BUSH....and TIME and tide wait for no MAN.   Notice how the initial letter A in both sets is made out of saplings, adding further artistic flair - all the lettering is imaginatively done. 

A later linen-era card uses a scrambled-letters style to puzzle the recipient - the  message is worth figuing out, because it's an affectionate one the recipient will enjoy.

Another linen-era puzzle postcard teams bathing beauties with a maze - note the caption, "Having an A-MAZE-ing Good Time...Try to get to "ME" soon!

Here is a Victorian-era puzzle postcard with Teacher trying to impart some wisdom to her classroom students...she has created a puzzle on the blackboard, requiring the children to put the vowels back in the words.  This was used as an advertisement for a school supply company.  We show it extra-large in case you want to solve the puzzle yourself.
Above is a charming Christmas rebus puzzle postcard from Whitney, published in the 1920s, perfect for sending to children.  We show another below - these are the colorful rebus designs we mentioned at the start of this post.  Of course, there are other kinds of puzzles available on old postcards, too - some use thin, elongated letters to make mystery answers to riddles - the viewer has to hold the postcard up to the eye at a slant to read the answers...today we have just shown a few to get you started, if you would like to begin adding puzzles to your collection.  

Price Estimates:  Puzzle cards like those shown here are generally priced between $3 - $6 each, with the Whitney holiday rebus cards going as high as $10 because they have cross-over interest.  If you are introducing postcard collecting to a youngster, you may wish to get him or her a  puzzle or rebus card to add to their collection!   These prices are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

FELINE Fantasies - CAT and KITTEN Postcards

This post shows some cat fantasy postcards - where our favorite felines are featured in some unusual settings as well as the expected places.  Above, a Mama cat holds her new kitten wrapped in a pink blanket, one of the fantastic red-background fantasies we will include here.

Of course, there are places where cats naturally appear on antique postcards, like all the black cats that grace Halloween designs.  We show a delightful image of a jack-o'-lantern headed girl, wearing an autumn leaf outfit, smiling happily.  She is accompanied by the black cat we associate with Halloween designs, this time grinning in fun like his mistress.  Sometimes the Halloween cats are scary, sometimes serene, and on art deco cards they can be sleek and symbolic, with un-cat-like forms.  They may take center place, or parade around the edges forming a border. 

We also find cats and kittens adding feline charm to all sorts of holidays and greetings, and cat collectors can expand their hunt to include some elegant designs as well as cute ones.  Here is a cat making himself comfortable on the table among the roses.  PFB made a gorgeous embossed series of little girls holding their cats - very elegant and realistic with beautiful artwork and strong colors.  Each one is different and the series is popular.  A detail of one is shown to the left, of a little girl holding her cat in her lap.    

In the fantasy realm, one of the most popular and best-known series places dressed cats in busy environments.  Published by Mainzer, these are vintage flat cards with a matte finish, and each one has a frantic (often disastrous) moment presented in a colorful design.  These are some of the first postcards I gave my granddaughter to introduce her to collecting, and they immediatly caught the fancy of a 6-year old.  She enjoyed searching the images for semi-hidden nuttiness, and adults love the fantastic artwork as well as the humor.  Here are two from the extensive series:

Dressed cats also illustrate our red series - they're engaged in a variety of fantasy activities.  The red backgrounds make the images especially bright.  These postcards are sometimes embossed and sometimes flat...to the right is a fruitstand with cat customers, and below a pair of fellow felines share a chat over cigars.      
If you have other interests, and are already collecting Christmas postcards or, for instance, camera postcards, you can simply add fantasy cat images to your existing collection.  Above,  an artist-signed image of a cat with an old-fashioned camera on a tripod and below we see a sweet pair of  cats on a candy cane striped Merry Christmas image.   These bright-eyed cats are just doing what comes naturally, peeking out at us with inscrutable expressions and providing a very decorative accent to this Christmas design.  Back in the fantasy realm, a cat can take on continental flair.  Here is a black cat seated at an outdoor cafe, enjoying an aperitif, watching the world go by and thinking some deep thoughts.  Ah, to be in Paris now that Spring is here!

Some famous artists created cat-themed postcards.  Louis Wain (whose disintegrating images of cats are sometimes used in psychology text books to show how mental illness progresses) cat postcards can cost hundreds of dollars.  Thiele and Boulanger made a number of memorable cat designs which are far more affordable. 

Price Estimates:  Cat postcards vary widely - you could choose a sub-set to collect like cat holiday designs, cat fantasy designs, real photo cats or another specialty.  Different groups will be priced differently, depending on the availability and artwork and, of course, condition.  The Mainzer cards are a lot of fun and not too expensive, although their price is rising.  They are now commonly available for $8 - $15 each.  If you bid on a group (a lot) of Mainzer cats, you may get them as low as $3 or $4 dollars each.  Some sellers price them higher, but there are an enormous number available and if you wait, you will get the ones you want at a reasonable price.  The PFB cards of girls with cats will cost about $15-$20 each. The antique red cards appear as low as a few dollars and as high as $25 depending on where and when you find them.  Fantasy dressed cat designs were popular in Europe as well as in the U.S. and we have found some great designs with French or German captions for $5 - $10 each at eBay auction.   If you purchase a cat design that has an overlapping collectible interest (cameras, motorcycles, airplanes, for instance) the price may be higher, since two groups are interested in acquiring the card.  Expect to pay up to $35 or more for a top quality cross-over cat card.  Remember, these prices are for postcards in Excellent condition, and they are only estimates.