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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Japanese Art Deco Postcards

In the late 19th century, a flood of cheap Japanese prints and decorative objects hit America and Europe: Western artists and designers liked what they saw, and appropriated Japanese styles and techniques. Their borrowed, bold designs helped inspire the streamlined geometry and flat color fields of Art Deco — or Deco, for short. This style popped up in Paris at the dawn of the Jazz Age, quickly spread, and hit the Japanese market as the 1920s roared on. Japanese artists liked what they saw and re-appropriated the Deco style.  

Above is a quote from a description of a show Japan Deco, currently showing at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.  Japanese postcards are a collecting specialty which opens the door to exquisite artwork, whimsical designs and dramatic imagery.  In this post, we share some Japan art deco postcards and some more traditional images on Japanese postcards, too.

Here is a combination of artwork and a printed photo image, a frequently used design on Japanese postcards.  We have seen images of ships, military officers, war-time conflicts and scenes from expositions set against colorful backgrounds.  The backgrounds may be stylized floral  designs, wildlife (especially beautiful birds) or, as in this example, scenery.  We especially like the impressionistic quality of the watery view, shining silver details and the golden moon.

Here a young girl feeds the chickens.  The seller listed this image as a New Year design.
Pastel colors throughout the design are punctuated by the bright red details.

Below is one of our favorite New Year designs with bright gold added, a flowery background, and nice embossing.  A paper stamp and a rubber-stamped seal are at upper left.

These two whimsical puppy designs bring smiles.  Sweet, funny animals seem to hold a position of honor in the Japanese art world and they are enjoyed everywhere.  Think of Hello Kitty's popularity!

This elegant rooster graces a dramatic design with brilliant colors and a visually effective use of   lettering as part of the image.  Since we do not speak Japanese, we are left admiring these postcards without knowing what they say.  

Here is a wonderful pair of art deco designs on images of street vendors - brilliant colors, simplified images with silhouettes in the background providing depth to otherwise flattened pictures of men carrying their merchandise.

Price Estimates:  These postcards have climbed in value significantly over the past few years.  If you like them, we suggest you buy them now.  The postcards shown in this post cost between $10 for the girl with chickens to $20+ for the street vendors (each) and the ship with the golden moon.  We have found designs we liked that were as high as $40.  These estimates are for postcards in excellent condition, and they are only estimates.