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

Monday, September 13, 2010

NOVELTY Postcards - Add-ons, Silk, Velvet, Real Hair & More

Novelty postcards are full of surprises - with such a wide variety available, you can add novelties to almost any existing collection.  They are the perfect way to begin a youngster's collection, because children love the unusual and humorous charms of novelty postcards.  Plus, novelty cards have been produced from the early 1900s until modern times, so there are lots of novelties to choose from when selecting for your own collection or for a young friend's. 

In this post, we begin with simple novelties and progress to some more expensive types.  Above, velvety rabbits decorate an Easter postcard.  Fabric attachments included velvet, "silk" which is the term used for almost any shiny fabric, felt, and other materials as the subject required (for instance, there is a padded pin cushion novelty postcard of a lady's big bottom in plaid cotton).   Here are a big purple velvety Iris bloom, and a padded red "silk" heart. 

 This pretty silver postcard has die-cut (or die cut) edges, adding to its fancy charm.  Die cuts could be on the edges of a postcard or in the center of the design as we see in the booklet novelty postcard with yellow roses.  This greeting card "opens" which is another form of novelty - the booklet-style of card that had pages inside for printed or hand-written good wishes. 

Attachments or "add-ons" are another category of novelty postcards.  The greeting booklet above has a ribbon tied hinge, and ribbons are popular attachments.  Novelties also come with dried flowers, beads, feathers, spring tails for animals, "fur" or "hair" which is not real even if it says so in the dealer's advertisement, little envelopes in which notes could be stashed, and even unusual attachments like cigar labels, bags of salt on linen postcards from Utah's Salt Lake, or seeds as shown on this St. Patrick's Day postcard. 

There are some fun postcards with cut-out holes so that fingers can be inserted to create a lady's legs, even a donkey's ears.  Children find these amusing, and they especially like "squeaker" cards that had a little squeaker placed  between the layers of the postcard, with an air hole, so that pressing the center of the card created a squeaking sound.  "Google" or "googly" eye creatures are another popular novelty for kids - all sorts of animals in vibrant colors inhabit these cards with add-on eyes that roll when shaken. 

Metal add-ons may incorporate a metal charm into the design (turkeys on Thanksgiving cards, for instance, or Happy Birthday lettering on a floral design) or be the whole of the design as shown on this Best Wishes card with a metal shamrock as well as lettering.  These cards are made of heavier-than-usual stock to accommodate the prongs that held the metal attachments in place.

Another form of novelty is the postcard with exceptional embossing, as shown in this Easter design of chicks and a huge egg.  These may be referred to as "heavy" or "extra" embossing, and the colors were usually applied with airbrush.  Some are simple and crude  -  this is an example of a fine-quality postcard where the colors are elaborately designed and carefully applied.

Novelties include postcards made of unusual materials - in this group we include wooden, copper, celluloid and leather postcards.  Fold-out (called Pullout in Europe) novelties have accordion-folded views inside the postcard which are revealed when a flap is lifted.  The bathing beauties are an example of this - they are sometimes listed as MECHANICAL postcards so we suggest you look in both categories when you are searching for these.

More elaborate silk novelties include those greetings and holidays where fabric clothing is applied to an already colorful, and usually embossed, design.  These Easter girls are an example:

Above are two New Year novelty postcards, both with the date in the design and with attached calendars.  Each calendar has pages inside showing the months and days.  The one on the left also has fringe attached,  and a blue bow at the top. 

Here is an unusual novelty with a lady behind an added metal screen that is attached to the postcard with the edges secured between the postcard's layers.  The entire effect is that of a screen door - she is waiting for a fellow to come and invite her out, and she has picked out the day when he should show up for their date.
Our last and most expensive novelty in this post is the Santa Claus with a beard add-on.  These postcards, as well as the pretty ladies with hair attached, are usually advertised as "real hair" although, of course, the hair is not actually real. Santa is shown here on an embossed  postcard with beautiful colors and a Christmas design including toys, evergreens and colorful holly. 
PRICE ESTIMATES:   Simple novelties  may be purchased for about $5 and up, and middle-range novelties for $10 and up.  The complexity of the design, the quality of the artwork, and the richness of the embossing on holiday cards will add to the price, as will the rarity of the novelty.  Very unusual or hard-to-find novelties will cost more - "real hair" Santa Claus cards can cost up to $200 or more.  These are prices  for cards in Excellent condition, and they are only estimates.


  1. The "Will Be Alone On...." postcard is very interesting. I've never seen anything like that with so much construction to it. Any idea what the date is on it? Great post all together!

  2. Hi - thanks for your input. This card dates from the early 1900s - the majority of our topical cards are from 1908-1916. Sometimes, as with this card, the outfits and hairstyles are indicators.