Sunday, March 20, 2011
Samuel Schmucker Postcards for All Seasons
Samuel Schmucker is one of the most collectable artists on the discriminating deltiologist's
wish list. His artwork is spectacular and sometimes has a macabre touch, like the lady above selecting heart-shaped treats from a candy box with tweezers, in front of a big spider web background. I begin with this Valentine image because it was the first Samuel Schmucker postcard I ever acquired, back in the 1970s. I've been a devoted fan ever since. This post will show a selection of holiday postcards by Samuel Schmucker, all embossed and all published by John Winsch. Many have gold added. I have focused in on the central images on these postcards rather than showing the full cards so you can see Schmucker's style. He produced some sweet holiday postcard designs for Tuck with children on flat cards - those have a spare quality to the drawings. These Winsch images are much more elaborate and intricate. Schmucker rarely signed his artwork. When he did, he used the initials SLS written quite small. Your best method of collecting genuine Samuel Schmucker postcards will be to acquaint yourself with his style and publishers.
Here are two more pretty Valentine images - both of beautiful blonde women. On each, our lovely lady is surrounded by hearts, in a sunburst design and in a rainfall. On both, there is a bright gold background - the postcard on the left has a circular gold panel behind the woman's head. Schmucker often used a circular design behind the main figure.
These cards also showcase the fancy and colorful lettering Winsch used on many postcard designs.
There are quite a few Schmucker images for Thanksgiving, and here again is a large gold circle - this time we can imagine it's a rising or setting sun - creating a special background element for his attractive early American woman.
Some of Schmucker's Thanksgiving designs feature Native American women in harvest settings, also published by John Winsch with rich embossing and strong colors.
Below are some of Schmucker's Christmas holiday designs. The trademark pretty woman is the central element in each postcard.
The Santa Claus postcard shown here features glass beads applied to the woman's hair - these look ordinary in daylight, but shine and twinkle in a darkened room under artificial light. Schmucker created a few odd Santa images, including one where a pretty lady is about to don a Santa Mask, and the one above with what appears to be a Peeping Santa.
The two ladies above Santa Claus, outside on a snowy day, both have the Schmucker circle made of a holiday wreath that 'frames' the background view. In one case, the wreath is made of holly and in the snowman card the wreath is made of misteltoe. The gold backgrounds are embossed with fancy textures.
Here we have a Christmas lady in a bright poinsettia patterned gown with a sunburst-style circle behind her made of poinsettia petals. This holiday series of full-length women in long gowns also features rich embossing and lavish applications of texturned gold.
Some Schmucker postcards can be hard to identify; his popularity also makes wishful dealers label postcards with his name that aren't his work. Here is an example of an Easter fantasy postcard with faces in white blossoms that is often described as a Schmucker. On the left you can see Schmucker's superior artwork, with elegance and subtlety. Once the cards are side-by-side, it's easy to tell the difference. However, the overall design and the 'splashes' of gold ink make us think that the publisher of the white blossom card was trying to cash in on Samuel Schmucker's popularity. Not only is the artwork in the white blossom card inferior to the genuine article, its price is about $10 compared to $50 - $75 for the genuine Schmucker postcard. You can protect yourself by knowing your artist's style.
In a separate post, we will focus on the fantasy designs Samuel Schmucker produced for Detroit publishing. Printed on flat cards with gold added, they are truly exquisite.
Price Estimates: The cards shown in this post usually cost between $45 - $75 depending on where you find them. Some of the Thanksgiving and Christmas designs are more plentiful and may cost as little as $20 if you watch the auctions carefully. We also have a post in this blog featuring Samuel Schmucker New Year designs which are rarer and more expensive. Because they were printed in Series of 4 cards (rather than the usual 6 or 10), the New Year postcards cost more originally and are therefore harder to find. These prices are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition and they are only estimates.