Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Byrrh, a French wine-based aperitif made of red wine, mistelle and quinine, was created in 1855 by brothers Pallade and Simon Violet in the area of Thuir in France. The brothers branded the aperitif as a health drink to get around local aperitif producers' objection to competition with their established brands. The "hygienic drink" sold well in the early 20th century but didn't catch on in America.
Early Byrrh advertisements were designed by a variety of artists, some quite famous.
The early artwork on these postcards is colorful and varied, showing Byrrh being used as a tonic, usually by lovely ladies. The image above of the woman in pink is signed with the initials KS (K. Spillar) at lower right.
Advertisements for Byrrh can be found in older French films or in films set in the France of the past. In the US, one of the episodes of Mad Men, Season 4, featured a Byrhh advertisement. Byrrh is still available and is best served chilled.
Friday, August 14, 2015
This colorful series from Tuck publishers features vivid images of Carnival characters dressed in fantastical outfits. Each has a title at bottom right, and says At the Carnival at bottom left.
Beautiful women and classic clowns illustrate many of the postcards in this series.
Some of the clowns wear Pierrot-style costumes.
Columbine wears a spectacular hat of red horns on Harlequin and Columbine above.
Music plays a role in some of the images.
The women wear low-cut gowns with a risque flair.
The Cake-Walk is the most sought-after image in the series.
Friday, July 10, 2015
Arthur Butcher was an English illustrator, born in 1877 in Wood Green, London. His artwork was reproduced as postcards.
The images in this post are flat postcards from the World War I era with English and French captions. Butcher was adept at adding glamour to illustrations of women affected by the war.
We open with a woman in military attire with the caption Fall in and follow me!
Here a woman at home thinks about her beau at the front.
This is a colorful image of a sultry woman representing Serbia with the caption Freedom for ever!
This more demure image of Somebody's Darling has a stamp on the back that shows it was sold from a shop in Lisbon.
The two risque images in silhouette below are in a different style, but clearly signed with Arthur Butcher's signature:
The postcards in this post were all published by Inter-Art Company of London.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Happy Independence Day!
On this special birthday, we look at a vivid series of July 4th postcards published by the British company Raphael Tuck & Sons. I recently learned that there is a town in Britain that actually celebrates July 4th with fireworks and feasting, so in the spirit of friendship and letting bygones be bygones, here is a fine Independence Day series of beautifully embossed postcards from the country from whom we liberated ourselves!
The design elements of this series are especially fine - I like the 'shield' of stars and stripes forming the background and the super-bright colors. All the images feature children.
On the above cards, July 4th celebration shows the war for independence, music and fireworks. The young Uncle Sam represents the battle itself, while the postcards of children playing music and setting off firecrackers are about love of country and freedom.
This is the back of the divided back series, showing the series number.
Another image of a child representing a national symbol, the above postcard is of Lady Liberty (sometimes called Columbia) with a flag and fireworks. The caption says, "Teach him to hold the flag holy and high for the sake of his sacred dead." A powerful sentiment on an important day!
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...