Friday, June 26, 2015
The earliest bicycle-type vehicle, sometimes called a velocipede or Draisienne was invented by Karl Drais. It had a steerable front wheel, was made entirely of wood, and had no pedals. It required the riders to push along the ground with their feet...in the 1860s, the term "bicycle" was introduced in France to describe a new kind of two-wheeler with a mechanical drive.
The elegant art nouveau postcard above shows a couple sharing a ride on a bicycle built for two. This image is signed Mignot on an early undivided back postcard with space on the front for the sender's message.
In 1878 the first American manufacturer of bicycles began in Hartford, Connecticut with a trade catalogue 20 pages long. They made High Wheelers with a 60-inch tall (that's 5 feet!) wheel in the front. This fanciful vehicle was clearly only for wealthy people - it sold for $125.00 when you could buy a sewing machine for $13.00.
By 1890 bicycles were being mass produced, economical and of a type we recognize today. They were useful for the working man as transportation and here we have an artist-signed French divided back postcard of a courier with his bicycle:
Bicycles were a good way for people to get around when seeing new places, as well as useful for transportation at home. Here is an early undivided back Gruss Aus Wurzburg postcard with a couple on their bicycle.
Of course, bicycles needed maintenance and repair. Below is an early undivided back German postcard advertising Dunlop tires. This is a great illustration, showing a variety of people with their bicycles and including a rectangle in the center for the sender's handwritten message. It was postmarked in 1901.
Like automobiles after them, bicycles allowed couples to get out of the parlor and on the road where a romance could blossom in new-found privacy. Cupid oversees the activity on this colorful embossed postcard postmarked 1909.
Here a couple enjoys a ride together on separate bicycles, ignoring the trolley to go their own way under their own power. This postcard has a great art nouveau design and is postmarked 1906.
Information in this post is from the National Geographic and the International Bicycle Fund. In my research, I found this quote from Susan B. Anthony, famed suffragette:
"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance."
The postcards shown here are all European. The difference in Europe and American bicycling continues. Here are some interesting statistics: "Americans use their bicycles for less than one percent of all urban trips. In Italy, 5 percent of all trips are by bicycle, 30 percent in the Netherlands, and seven our of eight Dutch people over age 15 have a bike."
Bicycle-theme postcards come in so many types that you could specialize inside the genre if you wished. Although the ladies in the real photo postcard above are European, there are many images of Americans with their bicycles on real photo postcards, from little children to adults.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Before the Nazis started using the swastika, this ancient symbol was used to convey friendly wishes and good luck. It appears on numerous antique postcards in various forms. We open with a great image that shows the swastika with other good luck symbols. On the back there is a description of the symbols. A flat, divided back postcard.
This card has vivid colors, rich embossing and gold added to the design. It is one of a bright series of divided back postcards.
This is from another series of embossed swastika postcards with bright gold - note the Dickens quote.
Here is another colorful flat divided back design with lots of Good Luck symbols, including a rabbit's foot. Each has a poetic description.
Below is a scarce swastika card that shows the relationship of American Indians with the symbol. It has a fabric swastika and the notation (bottom left) sew this on your necktie for good luck.
Swastikas also appear on holiday postcards. Below is an embossed Christmas example.
Swastika symbols for Good Luck are an intriguing collectors' niche...if you wish to collect these, look for examples both online and at shows.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Ethel Parkinson was born in Hull in 1868. About 1880 her family moved to Greenwich, South East London, and soon after she began working for C.W. Faulkner publishers.
Her style for Faulkner included images of Dutch children at play, families and pretty children in Victorian clothing. Parkinson used deep colors and dark outlines around the people in her images. Some of the postcards have elaborate backgrounds, some have simple backgrounds, and some have a plain colored background.
All the postcards in this post are flat designs published by C.W. Faulkner.
Below is an example of Ethel Parkinson's signature enlarged.
Here are two more images, also flat postcards published by Faulkner, without signatures. I think they look like Ethel Parkinson's work...
Friday, May 29, 2015
Clarence Frederick Underwood was born in Jamestown, New York in 1871. He studied in Paris at the Art Students League and the Academy of Julian in 1896 then returned to the United States at the beginning of the 1900s to work illustrating books, postcards and magazines including the Saturday Evening Post, McClure's and Harper's.
Known for his beautiful women, he also portrayed elegant couples as shown in this post.
All these postcards are flat divided back designs. Some have captions in English. The image below of parents with a sleeping child has a German caption.
Some of his images show a humorous view of society and romance. The fellow below is the object of two co-eds' affections, with the caption Who Will Be the Winner?
Underwood was in great demand during the golden age of postcards, and his popularity remains. His artwork is still available for purchase today in modern prints of his original designs.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Here's an introduction to two pretty series by Florence Hardy, both published by C.W. Faulkner in the UK. The first series, #1081, has elaborate illustrations of romantic couples with a musical theme.
For these two series, each image is signed and each has a caption. These are divided back flat postcards with beautiful colors.
Each series has 6 images in the set.
Faulkner & Co. produced card games and art prints as well as postcards. They were in business from the 1870s to the 1950s. Faulkner was originally in the Christmas card business together with Albert Hildesheimer but the partnership ended in 1885. Faulkner took over the business, publishing a number of popular family card games. Ethel Parkinson, also well-known for her postcards, was one of the card game illustrators.
This is the back of series #1081, with publishing information on the left edge.
Below is series #914 with young couples in fancy dress, dancing. On this series, the publishing information is printed on the front of the card along the left edge.
C.W. Faulkner and Co. produced calendars, holiday cards, birthday cards, painting books, and story books as well as postcards. These Florence Hardy postcards show the quality of Faulkner printing, many items printed in Germany and Austria.
This is the back of the 914 Series.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Some artists who contributed to the Golden Age of Postcards are unknown to us. There is little or no information on their lives or careers.
This post introduces postcard images by Raimund Ritter von Brennerstein Wichera who was called the "king of the Viennese school" because he was the court painter of emperor Franz II and his family.
Born in 1862, Wichera became famous for his still-life, nude and portrait paintings. He also designed in silver and painted hunting scenes. During his lifetime, he served as president of the Vienna Old Masters' Guild, taught at the Academy of Fine Arts and raised a son, Maximilian Schurmann, who also became a famed painter. Wichera died in Vienna in 1925.
From an online biography: "Secession as an imaginative creativity looked for its symbols in nature. It preferred a more natural movement and a graphic, decorative style. The work of more painters of secession was the celebration of life, nature, but most of all the woman."
In early postcards, Wichera demonstrated his artistic strength by portraying beautiful women in fashionable outfits. All but the last of the postcards here are undivided back flat designs published by M.M. Vienne.
His signature is unmistakable:
Some of Wichera's postcards have color added, while others are black/white. Here are two flirtatious ladies scattering flowers from their automobile. As is sometimes the case, the signature here at the lower left is faint. If you are interested in collecting Wichera postcards, you may need to look carefully through items sorted under other headings.
Here's a black/white image of ladies decorating a Christmas tree with a kitten standing by. The woman on the right looks over her shoulder at us with a coy smile.
On this postcard, the sender has signed the front of the postcard since only the address was allowed on the back. It is postmarked 1904.
This post closes with an unsigned image I believe to be a Wichera - there is no publisher given on the back, so it may have been pirated. The back is blank without postcard printing. The sender used it in 1909 as an Easter greeting.
Wichera's artwork fits neatly into the early Vienne style of postcards, showing elegant women and couples wearing fashionable clothing. If you like Wichera images, you may like other Vienne postcards, too.
Saturday, May 2, 2015
This post introduces a genre of antique postcards that use just one color in the design. These are called "monotint" images. Like other types of old postcards, these go in and out of style. They seem to have been undervalued over the last few years, with prices just now beginning to rise. While not as vivid as some illustrations that use a variety of colors, monotints have a decorative subtlety of their own. The postcards in this post are all early undivided back flat ones. We open with an unused summery image of a little girl dipping a toe in a cool brook. It is published by Stroefer, Serie III No. 5200. On the edge of the front it also says, Monotint-Postkarte.
This boy sitting on a fence is from the same Stroefer series, No. 5204. While the two are unsigned, the artwork is superb. The children are charming individuals in realistic settings. There is a message written on the front, hand-dated 1899. It was not postmarked, probably sent in an envelope to protect it.
This gorgeous little girl is from the same Stroefer series, No. 5213. There is a touch of soft blue-green on her bow. It is postmarked 1899 with a hand-written message on the front.
This postcard of lovely little girls playing in a Spring meadow is published by Nister, Series 45. It is unused.
Here is another Stroefer-published postcard of a little girl standing in the snow, holding a basket. It is also from the Stroefer Series III, No. 5197. It is hand-dated on the front and postmarked 1900.
All the images above are printed in a rich caramel color. However, monotints can be found in other colors. There are monotints in blue, and the one of a flirting couple below, signed by Bottaro, is in red.
This artist-signed monotint is published by Stroefer Series 391. There are 6 designs in the series, but there is no design number on the back. Although an early undivided back postcard, it is postmarked 1909 from Chicago and the sender wrote a message on the left side of the back, with the address on the right, using it as a divided back postcard.