Sunday, November 16, 2014
Early in my collecting years, I was attracted to postcards from the publisher PFB. We open with an exquisite Angel for Christmas. The attention to detail and the overall superior quality of the artwork makes these postcards stand-outs in any holiday collection. Rich embossing adds to the beauty of all the postcards in this post.
This impressive PFB Angel wears a long dark green gown which is clearly made of velvet. I'm reminded that portrait artists spent years studying how to paint different fabrics, and here on a postcard we find a masterful display of velvet with fur trim.
This Christmas image of children sharing greetings by telephone illustrates another quality of PFB artistry - the naturalistic action of figures on postcards. These children, and the girl giving her doll a ride on the sled below, form lively holiday images.
Although we may recognize the artwork of different PFB artists, the postcard images are not signed. The Santa Claus below is one of a fine Christmas series with soft colors and delicately drawn faces.
A variety of PFB Santa Claus postcards are available. This post introduces just two. My goal for this post is that it tempts your curiosity to explore further the holiday designs from PFB.
We'll close with one of the most popular PFB Christmas series - this one is Angels on clouds in a gold-starred sky...there is also a popular series of girls (without wings) looking out at the viewer in a similar design...lovely!
This post introduces one of the most beautiful Christmas series from the early 1900s published by Tuck. Officially, it's called Series 512. I think of it as the "stained glass" series because of the colorful borders. All the postcards in this group have rich embossing and brilliant colors.
Some of the images are by Bowley, some by Brundage. There may be other artists whose work I don't recognize. None of these postcards include artists' signatures.
While Santa Claus appears in several of the illustrations, he's not in all of them.
Some of the images show pretty children alone.
Some of the illustrations in this Series were also published by Tuck with no border. The image of party-going children below is one of these.
This holiday season, I want to share some of the best Christmas postcards for the collector from top publishers. The following post shows a representative sampling of Christmas postcards from PFB (Paul Finkenrath Berlin) publishers.
Friday, November 7, 2014
Smoking was a daring action for women 100 years ago. Here is an abbreviated description from Wikipedia on the subject:
"Before the twentieth century smoking was seen as a habit that was corrupt and inappropriate for women. Women’s smoking was seen as immoral and some states tried to prevent women from smoking by enforcing laws. In 1904 a woman named Jennie Lasher was sentenced to thirty days in jail for putting her children’s morals at risk by smoking in their presence and in 1908 the New York City Board of Alderman unanimously passed an ordinance that prohibited smoking by women in public. Some women’s groups also fought against women smoking. The International Tobacco League lobbied for filmmakers to refrain from putting women smoking cigarettes in movies unless the women being portrayed were of “discreditable” character and other women’s groups asked young girls to sign pledges saying that they would not use tobacco. These groups saw smoking as an immoral activity and a threat. Yet during World War I as women took the jobs of men who had gone to war, they also began smoking. Cigarettes were a way for women to challenge social norms and fight for equal rights as men. Eventually for women the cigarette came to symbolize “rebellious independence, glamour, seduction and sexual allure..."
This sexy rebellion was reflected on postcards. We open with a pair of women in sailor suits, holding nets and cigarettes in studio real photo postcards. Below is a close-up so you can see the nice tinting on this image and the come-hither look on the model's face.
Here is another real photo postcard with a woman in a feathered hat and a fancy gown inside a crescent moon set in a starry sky. Bright color tinting adds to this postcard, postmarked 1908 in France. Below are two signed Usabal women, both glamour poses with cigarettes.
A beautiful flirtatious woman holds her cigarette on this artist-signed postcard by Codina. She wears a bright patterned shawl and jewelry with red flowers decorating her dark hair. This is a divided back flat Spanish postcard published in Barcelona.
Our last image is from France and includes a design element frequently seen in postcards of men smoking a pipe - the smoke forming words or a picture of the dreamed-of lover. Her smoke says I Love You in French. Although this is an unused divided back real photo postcard, her bobbed hairstyle and cigarette holder implies the 1920s.
Looking back at earlier posts and realizing how much postcard prices have changed (generally upward), I have decided to retire the Prices section on the posts. It will be most helpful for you to search recently SOLD lists to find the current prices of postcards that interest you.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Publishers of antique & vintage postcards had several ways to save money. This post illustrates three different ways publishers could economize. First, recycling images by well known artists, like the image above by Marie Flatscher. In one, shamrocks symbolize Good Luck in the New Year. The second postcard, also for the New Year, features birds on a wintery branch and a different window treatment.
Below are more examples of recycled artwork. The first is from Winsch publishers on Easter postcards where a change of border style and the addition of a child makes a "new" image.
Next are two examples of art deco style postcards from the 1920s, recycling images with some changes to create different designs or simply changing the background color.
The second way publishers saved money, a little bizarre, was reusing designs but with a different greeting. These are plentiful and easy to spot. We begin with an obvious Easter chick from Tuck publishers casting an eye on a lemon and wondering what relationship it might have to an egg. More puzzling - what does this image have to do with Christmas?
Below are two Valentines, one with Cupid helping a pretty lady decide between love and money (a recurring theme in turn-of-the century Valentines), and one with Cupid surprising a lady while she reads a love letter. These have been recycled as a Christmas greeting with the addition of some holly and as a birthday postcard with the design unchanged.
Here is a well-known antique New Year design with children holding shamrocks and a horn, both traditional New Year symbols, and old Father Time from the previous year leaving in the background. The old car and the new red auto reinforce the old/new symbolism. It has been recycled as a birthday greeting with no change to the design.
The third way to save money was for publishers to print divided backs on what had originally been undivided back stock with the front design intact. The laws changed, allowing messages to be written on the back of the postcard, where publishers had originally left space on the front for the message when only the address was allowed on the back. The following postcards have divided backs, but the image still has the space from when postcards had undivided backs.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Fade away (fadeaway) postcard designs combine background colors with images to create an inventive picture that challenges the viewer to look closely. This is a fun fool-the-eye element that adds interest to holiday and greeting postcards from the early 1900s.
Our opening image is a Gibson Art-published divided back flat Christmas postcard where Santa Claus has a suit that blends into the background. Gibson Art also published the fine image below of a lady driving a red automobile on a red background. Check the area near the steering wheel, where the image of her arm fades into the red background. Both of these postcards were postmarked 1913.
Below is an example from one of my favorite series of fade away postcards, published by Stecher, with lovely little girls holding Easter rabbits and chicks. The background is a gorgeous violet color and the fade away design is significant, with the girls' outfits completely blended into the background. Light embossing adds to the charm of these divided back postcards.
A different sort of fade away design is evident on the glamorous art deco image below of a woman in black stockings and a chemise that matches the background, An artist-signed Italian postcard with divided back flat image, the smoke from her cigarette creates the caption. Elegant and spare, this is a classy risque design in the fade away style.
Another Gibson Art Christmas postcard adds a whimsical cherub on a mailbox with children sending holiday wishes. A divided back flat design, the little girl in white has a winter coat and boots that fade into the snowy background. Note the footstep marks in the snow - a subtle touch added to a bright postcard.
The following three fade away designs are by a famed artist of the genre, Coles Phillips, who early on signed his work C. Coles Phillips and later dropped the initial C. His artwork could be found on advertisements and postcards, frequently featuring lovely women with significant fade away elements. A well-regarded artist among collectors, the sophistication of his images makes his postcards very popular.
The last image here called PALS by Phillips has a design and color palette that predates Bev Doolittle's modern fade away prints. In her Hide and Seek Cameo series, brown and white horses fade into a background of rocks, earth and snow with a similar combination of colors. Her beautiful prints can be seen on the internet.
PRICE ESTIMATES: Prices for fade away postcards range from about $6 - $25 for the Stecher and Gibson Art designs and about $35 - $60 for the artist-signed Coles Phillips & Italian postcards. These estimates are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition and they are only estimates.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Everyone knows that a dog is "man's best friend"...these real photo postcards from 1910 - 1930s show that dogs are a woman's (and a girl's!) best friend, too. These are all divided-back postcards. Some have vivid color tinting, like the French New Year greeting above.
Whether the pup poses with a famous performer as in this image above from Rotary of London, or with a pal as in the tinted French glamour pose below, the dogs add charm to each postcard.
Dogs can give us a companion, a playmate, a confidante and a protector...here are two delightful scenes of young girls with their big dogs and captions that describe what these pets mean to them. Both of these postcards were published in the UK.
These two pretty ladies with little dogs above are both published by Rotary of London. They have delicate color tinting. Our last real photo postcard was published in France and shows a little girl with roses and her dog. It was postmarked 1931 from the Netherlands.
PRICE ESTIMATES: The real photo postcards shown in this post cost from about $8 - $14. These estimates are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Clara Miller Burd (C.M. Burd) was born in 1873 in New York City. She studied art in New York and then in Paris and also studied stained glass design later at the Tiffany studios in New York. Her career included work as a stained glass artist, a magazine cover illustrator, a portrait painter and, most significantly, as a popular book illustrator. Many of her beautiful book illustrations can be found on the internet. Burd was famous for her images of children, and some can be found on postcards. We open with one of her Sunday School designs that has her signature at lower right. Another Sunday School postcard can be seen below.
The Rally Day illustration above is especially fine, with wonderful detail and bright colors. Published by Westminster Press in Philadelphia, the Copyright 1911 by C.M. Burd notation can be seen on the lower left border on this postcard as on the two above it.
Above is an example of her Cradle Roll Birthday greetings, published by Eaton and Mains New York and Jennings and Graham Cincinnati. Again, a Copyright 1911 by C.M. Burd notation is seen at the bottom left.
The following Easter postcards are published by Tuck, from the Buds and Blossoms series #1030. The children are lovely and we can see Clara's logo at the bottom right. I have included close-up details so you can see her artwork more clearly.
All of the postcards in this post are flat divided-back designs. The Tuck postcards have delicate artwork and subtle colors. Burd postcards can be challenging to find. It helps to be able to recognize her artist's logo, since sellers frequently do not identify her as the artist.
PRICE ESTIMATES: Clara M. Burd's religious designs are less expensive than holiday postcards. The postcards here cost about $4. - $16. These estimates are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates.