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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Angels - Sacred, Secular, Whimsical

Angel postcards are abundant, and often undervalued.  Last year I attended a West Coast postcard show where one dealer had dumped all his embossed Angel postcards in a shoebox marked 50% off - that was a happy find.  If you like this particular segment of what's called the Fantasy category, you can create a colorful and varied collection of angel postcards without spending a lot of money.

Angels were produced and sold all year on greeting postcards.  For instance, Guardian Angels protect children from being run over by trains, falling off bridges and suffering other dangers, and the postcards come in a range of types from real photo to elegantly embossed gilded artwork.  But Angel designs really blossom at Christmas and Easter.  Here is a selection of Christmas Angels that illustrates three main types - religious, non-religious, and what I think of as whimsical - angels performing fantasy tasks or in fantasy settings.

Let's begin with a whimsical Angel arranging ornaments and sugary treats on a Victorian Christmas tree.  This is an embossed postcard with lots of shining silver added throughout the design.  Another whimsical design shows an angel dropping holiday apples from a basket - a gift to the townspeople below.  Again, this is an embossed postcard and it has a silver border.  One of the most appealing aspects of Angel postcards is that they are often elaborately decorated and add sparkle to a holiday collection.    

Angels with children decorate many Christmas postcards.  Often, as in this example, they come bearing toys.  These 'Santa's Helper' Angels may be cute or elegant, and this postcard with very detailed embossing and lavish gilding definitely falls into the latter group.

Below, we see another helper Angel packing a crate full of toys with the assistance of a baby Angel.  They both have solid gold wings on this embossed design. 

Religious designs have a special place at Christmas - and they come in a wide range of images, from Angels guiding the shepherds or holding the Christ Child, to  Angel designs where the religious nature of the artwork is more subtle.  We have some examples here, such as the Angel playing the harp on the balcony of the bell tower (notice her pink wings), the gold-wing Angels singing hymns in the sky below a bright golden star, or the dramatic design of an Angel in a dark blue nighttime setting, crowned with a glowing halo, the guiding star prominent in the sky...this design nicely combines the sacred and secular themes by giving her a little decorated Christmas tree.

The last three postcards are all examples of unusual artwork.  The first is a richly embossed design set against a deep green background.  The Angel has been airbrushed with vivid pastels, and there are cloud shapes embossed in the dark green below her feet.  The Angel standing at the crossroads (where the sign resembles a rustic cross) wears applied fabric clothing.  The last Angel is a hold-to-light postcard made of several layers - the die-cut holes in the front layer make the candles glow blue, red and yellow when the card is held up to a light.  Hold-to-Light (HTL) postcards are very desirable and their prices reflect this.

Price Estimates - Beautifully embossed Angel postcards can be found at eBay auction between $5 and $10.  Also, look for them at postcard shows where they are often priced very reasonably.  Unusual cards with exceptional artwork can cost $12-$15.  All Christmas holiday hold-to-light cards generate lively bidding on eBay, with the simple scenes of houses or churches in the snow going for $15 - $20.  Hold-to-lights with Santa can cost well over $100.  Angels and children will typically go to the high bidder between $25 - $60. These are prices for postcards in EXCELLENT condition - they are only estimates of current prices. 

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