Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Ernest Nister (1842-1909) is best known for the beautiful children's books his company published in Nuremberg and London in the late 1890s. With intriguing novelty "moving pictures" these books were a popular way to delight children - reproductions of these are available today and would still make a memorable present!
In this post, we take a look at some of the Christmas designs published by Nister on postcards. Nister postcards are flat, using quality illustrations to define the Nister brand. Sometimes embellished with calligraphic sentiments, Nister postcards for various holidays (some wonderful Valentines) may be recognized by the lettering added to the design.
We open with a signed Albertine Randall Wheelan design showing a lady in a magnificent red cloak surrounded by little birds. As with all the postcards shown in this post, it has a divided back.
Here is a very different sort of Christmas image, unsigned, with friends out in a snowy landscape. Delicate colors contrast with the bright holly. A number of Nister postcards show images that were originally used in Nister children's books. This may be one of them - also see the last postcard in this post for another image likely re-published from a book.
This elaborate and rather formal design, with the calligraphic poem below, seems to be part of a series of historical Christmas images. It is titled Under the Mistletoe - 1750 and is signed with initials TBS at lower left. This artist is not identified in my Artist-Signed Postcard Guide by Mashburn.
This adorable little girl in holiday red is holding a sprig of mistletoe, which goes nicely with the poetic caption. Both the image and the poem are signed EHD, Ethel DeWees, who is well-known to postcard collectors for her many sweet child designs.
Here are two signed C.E. Brock images with calligraphic quotes for captions. They are numbered on the back 2633 and 2635. Similar in color selection and design, they are some of my favorite Nister Christmas designs - the people are each individuals and the faces are beautifully drawn. The postcard on the right was postmarked 1913.
These pretty young girls out ice-skating on a snowy day with hats, a scarf and a fur muff may have originally appeared in a Nister book - the addition of a holly decoration and caption create a Christmas postcard. Lovely unsigned artwork with strong colors and a lively image.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Early in my collecting years, I was attracted to postcards from the publisher PFB. We open with an exquisite Angel for Christmas. The attention to detail and the overall superior quality of the artwork makes these postcards stand-outs in any holiday collection. Rich embossing adds to the beauty of all the postcards in this post.
This impressive PFB Angel wears a long dark green gown which is clearly made of velvet. I'm reminded that portrait artists spent years studying how to paint different fabrics, and here on a postcard we find a masterful display of velvet with fur trim.
This Christmas image of children sharing greetings by telephone illustrates another quality of PFB artistry - the naturalistic action of figures on postcards. These children, and the girl giving her doll a ride on the sled below, form lively holiday images.
Although we may recognize the artwork of different PFB artists, the postcard images are not signed. The Santa Claus below is one of a fine Christmas series with soft colors and delicately drawn faces.
A variety of PFB Santa Claus postcards are available. This post introduces just two. My goal for this post is that it tempts your curiosity to explore further the holiday designs from PFB.
We'll close with one of the most popular PFB Christmas series - this one is Angels on clouds in a gold-starred sky...there is also a popular series of girls (without wings) looking out at the viewer in a similar design...lovely!
This post introduces one of the most beautiful Christmas series from the early 1900s published by Tuck. Officially, it's called Series 512. I think of it as the "stained glass" series because of the colorful borders. All the postcards in this group have rich embossing and brilliant colors.
Some of the images are by Bowley, some by Brundage. There may be other artists whose work I don't recognize. None of these postcards include artists' signatures.
While Santa Claus appears in several of the illustrations, he's not in all of them.
Some of the images show pretty children alone.
Some of the illustrations in this Series were also published by Tuck with no border. The image of party-going children below is one of these.
This holiday season, I want to share some of the best Christmas postcards for the collector from top publishers. The following post shows a representative sampling of Christmas postcards from PFB (Paul Finkenrath Berlin) publishers.
Friday, November 7, 2014
Smoking was a daring action for women 100 years ago. Here is an abbreviated description from Wikipedia on the subject:
"Before the twentieth century smoking was seen as a habit that was corrupt and inappropriate for women. Women’s smoking was seen as immoral and some states tried to prevent women from smoking by enforcing laws. In 1904 a woman named Jennie Lasher was sentenced to thirty days in jail for putting her children’s morals at risk by smoking in their presence and in 1908 the New York City Board of Alderman unanimously passed an ordinance that prohibited smoking by women in public. Some women’s groups also fought against women smoking. The International Tobacco League lobbied for filmmakers to refrain from putting women smoking cigarettes in movies unless the women being portrayed were of “discreditable” character and other women’s groups asked young girls to sign pledges saying that they would not use tobacco. These groups saw smoking as an immoral activity and a threat. Yet during World War I as women took the jobs of men who had gone to war, they also began smoking. Cigarettes were a way for women to challenge social norms and fight for equal rights as men. Eventually for women the cigarette came to symbolize “rebellious independence, glamour, seduction and sexual allure..."
This sexy rebellion was reflected on postcards. We open with a pair of women in sailor suits, holding nets and cigarettes in studio real photo postcards. Below is a close-up so you can see the nice tinting on this image and the come-hither look on the model's face.
Here is another real photo postcard with a woman in a feathered hat and a fancy gown inside a crescent moon set in a starry sky. Bright color tinting adds to this postcard, postmarked 1908 in France. Below are two signed Usabal women, both glamour poses with cigarettes.
A beautiful flirtatious woman holds her cigarette on this artist-signed postcard by Codina. She wears a bright patterned shawl and jewelry with red flowers decorating her dark hair. This is a divided back flat Spanish postcard published in Barcelona.
Our last image is from France and includes a design element frequently seen in postcards of men smoking a pipe - the smoke forming words or a picture of the dreamed-of lover. Her smoke says I Love You in French. Although this is an unused divided back real photo postcard, her bobbed hairstyle and cigarette holder implies the 1920s.
Looking back at earlier posts and realizing how much postcard prices have changed (generally upward), I have decided to retire the Prices section on the posts. It will be most helpful for you to search recently SOLD lists to find the current prices of postcards that interest you.