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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Antique KALEIDOSCOPE Mechanical Postcards

We referenced kaleidoscope postcards in our post on Mechanical Postcards, but these cards are so spectacular that we decided to devote a post to them alone.  These are produced in layers, with an embossed image, a wheel attached with a grommet, sticking out on the side of the postcard, that allows the 'kaleidoscope' design to be turned which changes the colors and the designs.  The postcards are finished with a flat layer on the back for the address and message.  All the postcards in this post are embossed and all are from the early 1900s.

  The overall effect is rather like that of a top that, when twirled, creates a colorful swirling pattern. Ranging from quite simple, with just an Easter egg for instance, to more elaborate designs, these ever-popular antique postcards have often been reproduced.  Make sure when you are buying or bidding that you know whether you are getting an original or a reproduction!  On the Easter design above, the white kaleidoscope wheel is just visible at the top of the postcard.

On the design to the right of a Happy New Year clock, the kaleidoscope wheel protrudes from both sides of the postcard.  The clock hand on the postcard can be manually adjusted to any numeral.  Richly embossed, this design is brightened with a lot of shining gold.

The eye-catching dancing lady on the left is one of our favorites.  She is harder to find than the more common Easter egg or Thanksgiving turkey designs.  She dances in a huge twirling dress on a reflective shiny floor in a darkened background, an unusual and glamorous design with a large area of kaleidoscope action.  The white wheel is just visible on both sides of the postcard.

Another unusual kaleidoscope design shows a sea captain at the wheel of his ship, with the caption at the top saying Mail This to your Boy or Girl Friend

The white kaleidoscope wheel protrudes from the sides of this postcard.  The colors in the background of the wheel are combinations of yellow, orange and red, giving the impression of swirling flames.

Below, a pretty pair of Dutch children embrace above the sentiment, A Happy New Year to You, perhaps the artwork of Frances Brundage and sometimes attributed to Ellen Clapsaddle.  In any case, the artwork is superb and the kaleidoscope function is especially ornate with a pair of candles and a colorful wreath, all of which display whirling colors when the white wheel is turned on the sides and top of the card.   

These pretty Merry Christmas angels hover in a belltower below snow and icicles, in front of a deep blue nighttime sky dotted with gold stars.  They are ringing a cluster of golden bells with kaleidoscopic colors behind them - the turning wheel is visible on both sides of this postcard.  Below, more angels proclaim Valentine's Day greetings on a pair of kaleidoscope postcards with designs by Ellen Clapsaddle, printed in Germany by the same un-named publisher. (The design on the left has a small notation bottom right that says Printing Only copyrighted by the Intl Art Pub Co)  The colors are extra-vivid, the kaleidoscope designs feature a big red heart on one postcard and a  plume of flames from a smaller heart in the angel's arms on the other.  Both are beautifully embossed, with white turning wheels that protrude from either side of the postcards.  

Price Estimates:  Kaleidoscope postcards are highly collectible and their prices reflect their popularity.  Expect to pay $40 - $60 for the designs shown in this post, depending on rarity, condition, and where you find them.  Some dealers will charge significantly more.  If you find good quality kaleidoscope postcards at much lower prices, they are probably reproductions.  Look carefully at the backs to see if the information there answers the original vs. reproduction question.  These prices are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates. 

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