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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

CHRISTMAS FANTASY Postcards - Beautiful to Bizarre

We especially enjoy Fantasy postcards – although many antique postcard designs were flights-of-fancy illustrated, true Fantasy postcards stretch the limits of imagination. At this time of year, with Christmas on the horizon, we’d like to share some Christmas fantasies that show the range of the Fantasy genre – from beautiful to bizarre.  We begin with a sweet embossed fantasy image of a bird driving a Christmas holly sled hitched to a toy horse.

A top quality John Winsch Christmas series shows children dressed in evergreen and pine cones, holly leaves or mistletoe. Each design is beautifully drawn with an added feature.  The child holds a snowball, as the child here, or a toy...one shows a golliwog, one a doll and another a teddy bear, for instance.  Each child has an exquisite face with charming features and delicate coloring. With rich embossing and strong colors, these have the typical Winsch large-initial-letter sentiments and the John Winsch copyright date at the bottom edge. This image is copyrighted 1910.  This series is occasionally attributed to Samuel Schmucker, and usually not.  This is a confusing area of collecting because Schmucker cards are very desirable and some sellers add Schmucker's name to almost any Winsch-published design.  You can often find these mis-listings on eBay.  In fact, Winsch had a number of fine artists creating postcard designs so determining which postcard may be by an individual artist can be a challenge.  Some cards are definitely Samuel Schmucker artwork - we will feature these in later posts, beginning with a post showing some of his Christmas and New Year designs.  

Fantasy ornaments are a popular Christmas theme; we show both the easiest and hardest-to-find of the series of anthropomorphic candle ornaments on evergreen branches. This was a very popular series – it can be found with a variety of publisher backs, with and without glitter (there is clear glitter on the gingerbread man postcard shown here), and even in flat versions. Piracy of designs was not unusual – this series is an example of how well-liked designs moved through different publishers and formats. This particular version of the Gingerbread Man is an early undivided back and while the Apple card has space on the front for To___ and From ____, the back is divided for address and message areas.

Lovely angels with feathery wings and gentle expressions are shown projected in the light from a “magic lantern” or early 1900s slide projector. The background is solid silver, the projector decorated with holly. This series also has postcards that show images of children in the light.

For the most part, Whitney postcards are still not collected with great passion.  Some Whitney cards are certainly plain, flat and of inferior quality.  However, some Whitney postcards are nicely embossed with imaginative designs.  We show two examples here of quality Christmas fantasy postcards from this publisher. 

The first is a dog family getting ready to enjoy Christmas dinner...there's a calendar on the wall turned to December 25th, Mama dog is carrying a roasted turkey, and the children are excited.  There's a cheerful air to this dressed-dog design with embossing and bright colors.  The second example of a Whitney fantasy shows a child wrapped in a colorful quilt up on the roof in the snow - animated gifts appear to be diving down the chimney.  They are either charming or alarming depending on your point of view.  This postcard has light embossing and very imaginative artwork.  

The last Christmas entry personifies the bizarre in fantasy postcards - one of a popular series showing a grinning pinecone man playing with animated toys.  Rich embossing and odd artwork make these fantasy images special - the faces range from enthusiastic to grotesque, with each design showing movement, color and intriguing shadows, a subtle touch. 

Price Estimates: The John Winsch children dressed in Christmas greenery cost between $40 - $100.  In the living candle/ornament series, the Candle/Apple card is easy to find and can be purchased between $5 - $10. The Gingerbread Man is the hardest to find, and can cost up to $50. The projector postcard appeals to collectors of magic lanterns, as well as collectors of Angels, Christmas or Fantasy, and that can drive up the bidding. We have found these at postcard shows for a few dollars, and paid up to $20 when the bidding is lively on eBay. The Whitney postcards are undervalued, in my opinion. The animated package designs are odd and the dog family postcard is appealing – a good investment if you can get them for a few dollars each, which may be possible at postcard shows. When bidding, you may have to go as high as $10, or you may be lucky and win the auction for under $5. The anthropomorphic pinecone man and animated toy series is more expensive, doubtless because it’s so unusual. Expect to pay between $20 - $40. These are prices for postcards in EXCELLENT condition and they are only estimates of current prices.


  1. Sending Postcards during the festival time is a great fun. Its also lovely feel among the beloved ones. I use to send it to my beloved ones too. I usually get the cards from Postcard Ninjas, since they have huge no. of collections.

  2. Thanks for your input...we also like to put old postcards into mats and give them as presents - a scene from the person's hometown, or a linen large letter Greetings From their city - these are a few of the well-received gifts we have enjoyed giving friends.