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

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Greetings by TELEPHONE Postcards

This post focuses on the way telephones entered postcard art - in holiday and greeting postcards of all kinds. Above we see a pretty little girl sending birthday wishes by telephone - on a postcard.  While the popularity of the telephone grew, we imagine that 100 years ago, as today, nothing was more pleasurable than finding a real piece of mail delivered by the postman. 

Busy Santa loved the invention of the telephone - there are many wonderful fantasy designs of him using the telephone to confirm who was naughty or nice, keeping in touch with his little charges, or to send holiday greetings.  We show some examples here on embossed Christmas postcards.  The first card shown is published by Whitney.
The last image here is from a series of Santa with technological marvels of the early 1900s - this card is very popular, as is the one of him with a gramophone.  Rich, detailed embossing add to the charm and value.  Of course, Santa was not the only one who could send Christmas greetings via telephone.  Here is a 1920s little girl calling up her friends with warm wishes.

Like automobiles, early telephones were props in photo studios of the time, and you could have your up-to-date portrait taken with telephone in hand, whether you had service at home or not.
European real photo greeting postcards featured children with telephones like this bright-eyed little girl.  The "French" phone which had both the speaker and the receiver in the handset came later to the U.S. than it did to Europe, but this girl has an unusual phone of several parts!


We enjoy "floral objects" and especially like the ones showing modern technological developments.  Here is a pretty and richly embossed forget-me-not telephone.  The telephone could be used to convey a wide range of greetings, and postcards reflected that variety.  The little boy below has a straightforward message he's sending by telephone.

Christmas was not the only holiday that found the telephone in the design.  Frances Brundage drew several New Year postcards of men and women with telephones, and here is a vivid pair of signed Ellen H. Clapsaddle St. Patrick's day postcards.

This card is an example of a fantasy Easter postcard from one of our favorite series.  The cards are beautifully embossed and may be the unsigned artwork of Ellen H. Clapsaddle.  In each design, chicks run an egg warehouse office where a telephone is displayed.  Is he taking an order?  Love the Records book he holds under his wing, and the other office details in these images.   

Who needs a telephone most?  The newly-arrived, of course!  Here's an unusual birth announcement with Baby delivering all the pertinent data via telephone.  The copyright date on this colorful flat card is 1908.   Below is the signed artwork of Archie Gunn -the pretty flirtatious lady on this flat postcard is Miss Chicago.

The last card in this post shows how convenient the telephone was for advancing a person's romantic life.  The lady is holding a photograph, so apparently this is the way some dating was handled 100 years ago - with a photo sent thru the mail, followed up by a telephone call.  Questions arise:  How did he get her name and address if they have never met? We were aware of "mail-order brides" but this seems different - if you know anything about this early 1900s dating practice, we would love to hear about it!

Price Estimates:  Telephone postcards have a wide variety of designs and prices.  Holiday cards will cost more, in most cases, than birthday or greeting cards.  Real photo postcards will be priced according to the detail and quality of the photograph, plus the identification of the location.  In this post, the Santa cards are the most expensive at about $12 - $20 each. 

Hello? Hello? TELEPHONES on Postcards

Thomas J. Watson Sr. who  built the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) into the largest manufacturer of electric typewriters and data-processing equipment in the world, said he could see a worldwide market for 5 computers...so even someone deeply involved in technology could have a blind spot about the value of a new development.

We shouldn't be surprised, then, to learn that some folks at the turn of the century weren't sure what benefit those new-fangled telephones might provide.    Postcards tracked the progress of the telephone from the start of the 1900s, and this post covers just a few of the telephone's appearances on antique and vintage postcards.

These first four postcards advertise how the telephone could be of help in the home - they are from a set of 12  that describes crises averted and convenience added to the homeowner's life through the addition of a telephone to the household.  Of course, we still reach for the phone when we need a taxi, a plumber, or hear someone prowling about the door, as in the last postcard. But a different life at the turn of the century is illuminated by the 3rd postcard - When Servants Fail You - a life unfamiliar to most of us.  These are undivided back early postcards.  The ones we have that have been mailed are postmarked from 1903 to 1915.  On the back, in the top center, each one has the Bell Telephone logo.

The Bell Telephone colorful flat cards are quite dramatic and make a fun collection - the images include a Bell Telephone booth in a busy train station, "Keeps the traveler in touch with home"...a lady at home vignetted against a crowded street, "Into the heart of the shopping district by Bell Telephone"...a lady calling the grocer from her house, "The convenience of marketing"...and more.  The last one mentioned here is signed by the artist, MacLellan; we have one other signed card by a different artist, and some of the postcards have no signature.  Still, they share a common style and go well together as a group.

As telephones became more common in people's homes, other cards were produced to promote their use.  Here is a lady who may wish she had let her fingers do the walking, and an announcement card to send friends letting them know your new telephone number.  The date on the announcement card is 191_, so it was intended for use beginning after 1909.

The following postcard from the Colorado Telephone Company encourages the homeowner to add an extension to prevent hurrying down the stairs to answer a call if only one telephone has been installed.  The vivid artwork is signed at lower right.

 As the telephone made an impact on everyday life, it made an appearance in holiday, real photo and greeting postcards - in another post we will take a closer look at how the telephone entered postcard designs in whimsical, saucy and artistic ways. 

Price estimates:  We paid between $5 and $12 for the postcards shown in this post - as always, careful shopping will help you save money on your collection.  However, technology-related postcards are increasing in value, so if they interest you we encourage you to begin collecting sooner rather than later!  Remember, these are only estimates.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Antique BABIES & STORKS Birth Announcement Postcards

It seems obvious, looking at turn-of-the-century birth announcements, that everyone agreed babies were brought by the stork.  Although there are a rare few announcements without the stork, the great majority include a big white bird with a long beak and long legs.  The theme may be witty, amusing or simply happy, but there's almost always a delivery-bird in the celebratory design.  In this post, we look at a variety of birth announcements, embossed and flat, from 1901-1918. 

We begin with a popular design from Paul Finkenrath Berlin (PFB) with charming artwork by Marie Flatscher.  If you like this card, you may want to see more of artist Flatscher's work in another post where we focused exclusively on her designs.  Her snow white storks are fluffy and friendly - you can almost see a smile on their faces - and her babies are wonderfully individual, each one with its own personality.  Rich embossing and strong colors add to the desirability of this series.    Below is another PFB design, also embossed, showing a more exotic image of a stork wearing a dark red fez and a baby in a bib riding the stork, little riding crop in hand.

 Other cards in this series also show the stork wearing a ruffled bonnet and a Russian-style scarf or babushka, giving rise to the question of whether the stork is male, female, or either one depending on the artist's fancy.

Below are three different series, each with an Asian-influenced style.  The one with the lady waving good-bye to the stork is the last in a series that shows the stork searching for a baby in a marsh, finding the right baby, taking him to his parents, etc. with each card marking a step in the journey.  There are 6 cards, each with a deep red sun in a dramatic sky. These flat cards date from the early undivided back era, and were published by Adolph Selige in St. Louis, Missouri.

The card on the right has elements that could have come right off a Japanese kimono - round swirly clouds that look embroidered, flat areas of strong color and variations in size that make the stork very large and the baby thin and small, balancing in a basket.
The entire design gives us a flavor of cool Asian elegance with golden edges around each color on this dramatic flat card.  It is marked German-American Novelty Art Series No. 1088 with a divided back.

Here is an elegant series with the captions in German, where each card has a limited color palette in the blue-green range, with highlights of black, red and white.  It, too, shows Asian influence in the design, which is spare and dramatic.  These early undivided back birth announcements have light embossing, and a signature at the bottom that is either Asian or initials in a design that's made to look Asian.  Again, the series depicts the stops the stork makes when preparing to deliver a baby, including one titled Rast, where the baby is in a big twiggy nest atop a tiled roof, guarded by the standing stork, as though all babies had to go through the Netherlands on the way to their final destination

Now for a very different postcard, signed with the artist's entwined initials at lower left.  It's a good example of a sub-type of birth announcement where the design left a special space for the new parents to enter the baby's vital statistics.  This one is especially vibrant with strong colors and the Man in the Moon, always a favored turn-of-the-century motif, included in the image.   Furthering the theory that babies develop in marshland, we have a wonderful design below of a frog nursing babies to delivery-standards, and offering them to the stork.

We cannot imagine the circumstances in which this card, where the stork says the parents are not quite ready yet, would be sent...perhaps when a couple first showed pregnancy but the delivery date was some months in the future or maybe this is a card from eager-to-be-grandparents to the young couple as a hint that they should start building their family.  All the same, it's an unusual design where the stork is joined by another helper...in this case, the baby-bottle-wielding frog.

This post concludes with some examples of birth announcements without a stork in the design.This business-like Mammy figure holds up a baby in a little blanket, hanging from a hook-scale to tell how much the baby weighs.  It will appeal to collectors who like birth announcements and also collectors of Black Americana.  It's a flat card, with an early undivided back. No publisher is given front or back; it's harder to find than many birth announcements.  The last postcard in this post shows Baby arriving in a completely modern way - by a little airship marked Baby Land Air-Line that combines a dirigible with a little red motorized seat below equipped with a baby bottle.  Design copyrighted 1906 by Charles Rose, a divided back flat postcard signed by the artist, Dwig.

 Price Estimates:  Birth announcements are fun to collect and are not too expensive - a wide variety may be had for $5 or $6 each.  Those that offer something special - for instance, publishing by the popular and top-quality PFB - may cost twice or even three times as much.  Estimates are for cards in excellent condition, and are only estimates.