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

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Father Time & Baby New Year Postcards

Father Time appears on many antique New Year postcards, sometimes with wings and sometimes not.  He's frequently accompanied by Baby New Year. The concept of Father Time is an old one, dating back to Chronos, the Greek god of time. He is often shown carrying some symbol of the endless passing of time – a scythe, an hourglass or a clock may appear in the design. When he’s representing the old year he appears as an old man with a beard and sometimes a cane or staff. His job is to pass the duties of time to the infant New Year. Since Father Time represents the old year, we could imagine that the Baby New Year was always a boy. Sometime he is, and sometimes the New Year is represented as a baby girl (see the post on artist Frances Brundage for examples).  In the first illustration, a postcard from Tuck publishers, an Angel representing the flowering of the New Year waves good-bye to Father Time as he gets in a small boat to depart.

Sometimes Father Time is alone, guiding in the new year as shown in the image here - this is a  postcard from an unusual series which shows the new year arriving on a train, a steamship, a dirigible and other vehicles.  This series celebrates the transporation advances of the turn-of-the-century.  The clock is frosted with snow, hanging on a tree, set to the midnight new year hour.

Occasionally Father Time is shown in other styles, as in these two  fine designs from John Winsch publishers of Samuel Schmucker artwork, showing the old man with some very classy ladies.  Because Samuel Schmucker's artwork is so sophisticated and subtle, we get a new vision of Father Time as a sexy old gentleman in these magnificent images.  The clock provides a big round background element - Schmucker designs often use a circle (sun, moon, or clock as here) in the background behind his glamorous ladies.


Below are more embossed postcards of Father Time as we usually envision him – an elderly fellow, stately and sporting a long flowing beard.  Here he is helping a rascally Baby New Year jump through a circus hoop.  The old man has impressive blue feathered wings, a golden scythe in the background and an hourglass on his belt.

Here he meets Baby New Year at the train station, helping him on to the New Year train.  This Father Time has angel wings but Baby New Year doesn't, furthering the confusion about whether they have Heavenly or only Mythological qualities.  In the next image, Father Time signs in a young New Year officially.  The little boy is not an infant - he has his January 1st suitcase with him.  Note the hourglass embellishments at the top of the right-side illustration, the old-fashioned stick telephone and the midnight clock on the wall.  These two illustrations add 'modern' imagery to these turn-of-the-century greetings. 

Father Time is a basic figure in an antique holiday collection.  Whether he appears to be whimsical, serious or sensual, he represents the wisdom that only experience can provide.

We close with an image of Baby New Year alone, perched on a cloud above planet Earth, announcing the coming of the New Year by another wonderful new-fangled device - the telephone. 

Price Estimates: Prices for Father Time and Baby New Year postcards vary widely.  Tuck published lots of images of the famous duo, and they must have been popular as there are so many of them still available to collectors. The price on these pretty pastel cards is very reasonable - watchful bidding will acquire them for about $5.  Also, Baby New Year on the telephone can be acquired at a similar price.  The series with Father Time welcoming in the New Year on various vehicles is desirable and much harder to find.  Expect to pay $12 - $25 each, depending on which vehicle is in the design - the airplane and dirigible, for instance, are usually higher than the train.  The other cards we have included in this post will generally cost between $12 - $15, except for the Samuel Schmucker designs which range from $40 - $100 each.  These are current estimates for postcards in excellent condition, and they are only estimates.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Year Fantasy Postcards

Fantasy postcards push the creative envelope, adding imagination beyond the usual to their designs. Fantasy images can be found in a variety of categories – futuristic, social satire, romantic/sexual, greetings and holidays.

This post focuses on New Year fantasy postcards. Here we find a group of attractive postcards, all embossed, with fantastical elements. Some books and guides categorize Santa Claus and Angels as fantasy cards – we agree that the old man in red and our favorite winged friends may not be real, but prefer to search for postcards that stretch the fantasy category further.  After all, we are familiar with Santa Claus and Angels – they’re part of our culture and appear in many forms. To us, the most interesting fantasy postcards present us with images that are incontrovertibly born from the artist’s individual fantasies.  In other words, the stranger, the better. 

The hugging snow people represent  the 'animation' of inanimate objects - a common fantasy notion.  This is an especially charming design with a snow couple embracing under a full moon, observed by a curious little white bear. 

Here is a New Year train full of riches, where the conductors toss huge bags of coins (also surprisingly large) to waiting children.  What a delightful idea - there are lots of New Year designs that include images of money: wallets stuffed with bills, purses full of coins, bags of coins, coins being mined, etc.  We all hope for financial success in the New Year!

Champagne is a collecting category all of its own - we feature two champagne designs.  Above, two little cherubs ride a winged bottle of bubbly through the sky, with wings of envelopes full of happy New Year wishes.  This is a wonderfully unusual image, where every element of the design has fantasy flair.  Once again, a few gold coins add prosperity to the symbolism in this design.

A bottle of champagne in an ice bucket pops its top, sending the cork through an open window and into the sky, where a smiling moon floats among the clouds.  The champagne glasses tell us a party has taken place here already -  the clock is at midnight, a common symbol on antique New Year postcards.

Champagne isn't the only liquor celebrating the New Year - a fantasy postcard places a wine bottle and a whiskey bottle in a romantic dancing embrace.  We catch them just as they share a celebratory kiss on this unusual design with stars in the background. 

In this postcard we find little animated stars with faces riding moonbeams, laughing and playing together as they slide out of the clouds below a smiling moon.  They have golden star-shapes glowing around their heads, and more gold stars stud the dark night sky in this very vivid image. 

And finally, an Angel card we could not resist adding to this fantasy post. A beautiful blonde Angel with golden butterfly-style wings is perched in an elegant decorated plant pot.  The shamrocks indicate good luck, and the golden woven basket of bright pink roses adds to the color on this pretty fantasy New Year greeting.  

Price Estimates: Prices for fantasy postcards vary widely - expect to pay more for the most unusual designs.  The little Angel in pink and the children catching the coins may be found for as little as $5 up.  The champagne images will cost between $8 and $15 each.  The animated stars design is harder to find  and will cost $10 - $25.  Snowmen, and all variations of snow people, are very popular.  Because of their desirability, expect to pay about $15-$30 each.  The truly 'weird' fantasy cards, like the dancing liquor bottles, are more unpredictable in price.  Because some people love them, and some people find them too odd, their prices vary widely.  You might find them at auction for as little as $10, or in eBay stores or at postcard shows for as much as $30.  These are estimates for postcards in excellent condition, and they are only estimates.