We are always buying collections of postcards and photographs from before 1950 - email us at circa1910@tampabay.rr.com if you have a collection to sell!







Saturday, March 20, 2010

Antique Collectible ALPHABET LETTER Postcards


There are many different sets of alphabet cards, some whimsical and some glamorous, with everything from animals to beautiful women illustrating the letters.  Here we show just a sampling of the types you might wish to collect...some real photo alphabet cards, black and white designs, some with color tinting, and contributions by artists Ellen H. Clapsaddle and Catherine Klein.



This letter B is from one of the simplest and easiest to find series.  Each letter is filled with portraits of pretty women. These cards are printed in black and white - we have not seen them in color - if you have, please let us know!




Another black and white series uses real photo postcards to illustrate the alphabet, with women and children in unusual outdoor scenes.  Below is an example, showcasing the letter F with two little girls and a lady beside a lake.  This series has a fantasy air about it - here one of the little girls is perched on the letter, wearing her white Victorian outfit and broad-brimmed hat.  The woman appears to be dressed in a long wrap, and she poses dramatically.  Each letter has a different image. Probably the most popular letter in this collectible series is the letter D which has a camera in the design. 

Below we see another real photo postcard, this time for the letter N, with quite a different style.  In this spare and clean studio image, two girls hold a big letter and look at the camera with reserved, delicate smiles.  The card has nice tinting on the girls' dresses.                                    







Below we have one of the more colorful series, an unsigned alphabet designed by artist Ellen H. Clapsaddle, with cheerful winged cherubs carrying or playing on the letters.  This beautiful series is done in shades of blue, green and teal, with rich embossing (although the earliest versions are on flat, undivided back postcards) and the designs have shining gold added.






On the left is a floral alphabet card, represented by the fancy letter O which is embossed in gold.  The letters in this series are surrounded by flowers, and each has a nice natural look to it - a bit more casual than the floral arrangements on many Victorian postcards.  Here the floral decoration is a cluster of violets and leaves, making it clear that the letter is not always illustrated by a scene that in any way refers to the letter or a word beginning with the letter.

An exception to this would be the animal series, where each illustration is specifically tied to the letter.  "A for APE" is the first card in one of the series, for instance.


Catherine Klein illustrated a fine alphabet series with her beautiful floral artwork.  Here we have an example - the letter P illustrated with multicolored Pansies.  Pansies do start with a P, of course, and since the French word for the flowers is Pensees, which means Thoughts, it is apt that she used these colorful little blossoms in this signed illustration.  This is a particularly appealing series and the prices commanded by these Klein postcards make that clear.   

We close with a  postcard from a series that uses large letters that look like wood.  Sometimes they incorporate odd-shaped trees, as in this letter M where the two uprights of the letter are rooted in the ground.  This is a printed series, with soft colors, and each letter has its own scene.  This romantic landscape finds a gentleman reading to his lady-love - if there's an M in there, we don't know what it is!

Price Estimates:  Alphabet cards are fun to collect and they represent some of the largest series with 26 cards in each.  You can collect all of one design, or mix the designs in your personal alphabet.  The different series of alphabet cards vary widely in price, with the example letter B shown here going for a few dollars, to the signed Catherine Klein cards costing up to $35 or more depending on the rarity of the letter.  The pretty Clapsaddle designs may be found as high as $30 each, but careful bidding will acquire them for less.  These estimates are for cards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates of current prices. 

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