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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Do you know the little girl in pink on the right of this real photo postcard? 

If you have been collecting real photo postcards of women and children, you might recognize her.  All that I know about her is that most of the postcards showing her were made in Germany, but I suspect she was a photographer's daughter and this is why - she appears from toddlerhood to mature womanhood (there are even poses of her holding children in her lap) throughout the popular years of real photo postcards (RPPC).  In this post, we will have a chance to see her at different ages.  If you are wondering how ubiquitous her image was, I should tell you that I bought all these cards in one evening on eBay.  When you begin looking for her, you will find her everywhere!

Here she appears with another little girl who also poses in the photo postcard above - the photographer's daughter is in the middle and the little girl we see in the center of the 'singers' is at the top of this rope ladder.  Maybe the little girl at the bottom of the ladder is the child with pink bows above...what do you think? 

Below we see an image of the photographer's daughter when she is a little older.  She is quite a distinctive-looking child and once you have identified her gently rounded face, dark eyes and curly hair, you will have little difficulty picking her out.

Here is our girl in a stylish hat and frock, wearing a look of adolescent solemnity.  The lace on her dress has been hand-colored with white details to make it stand out and delicate tinting has been added to her clothing and her rosy cheeks.  Her flowers have been colored bright pink.

As an adult, the photographer's daughter retains her most distinctive features - here we see two images of her all grown-up and looking glamorous.  Her family must have been very proud of her, and countless collectors must have admired her beauty, too!

In this post, we have explored a little mystery in the deltiologist's hobby -  if you have a favorite mystery you'd like to share or learn more about, let me know.  I would enjoy hearing about it and exploring a solution!

Ellen Clapsaddle ST. PATRICK'S DAY Postcards

In this post we look at some St. Patrick's Day designs on antique postcards, all by the famed postcard artist Ellen Clapsaddle.  Clapsaddle designs were enormously popular, and often seem to have been pirated by anonymous publishers, who used her designs in lesser 'knock-off' postcards sometimes with blurry images or no embossing.  Her work with International Art publishing appears to all be embossed.  Later, when she moved to Germany, she crafted many designs for Wolf publishing that were produced on flat cards.  The devastation of World War I ruined the Wolf publishing company, leaving Clapsaddle without an  income.  She returned to the United States with some help from the owner of the Wolf company. 

All the postcards in this post are nicely embossed, and all have vivid green coloring to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  Some have gold added for additional sparkle!   Clapsaddle created an entire population of St. Patrick's Day celebrants, lovely ladies, men and children. 

As you can see, Clapsaddle's pretty ladies have cheerful expressions on sweet faces...they also appear in the traditional green clothing with a favorite emblem of Ireland alongside...shamrocks in pots, baskets and posies.

Some sources report that there are over 2,000 different Clapsaddle postcard designs - so if you have an interest in this much-loved artist, you can build quite a collection!  While she is  well-known for her adorable children, we are especially fond of her fantasy designs (see the Shamrock airship in our first card at the top of this post) and her ladies.  Keep your eye out on internet listings for artist-signed Clapsaddle or the initials of her International Art Publishers in the title/listing...IAP.  At a show, most dealers recognize Clapsaddle postcards, so you can ask if they have them in a special location...of course, you will also want to take a quick tour through their holiday and 'children' sections to see if you can find a Clapsaddle treasure.

Price estimates: Clapsaddle postcards come with and without her signature; as a general rule, the signed ones are more valuable.  As with all antique postcards, the clarity of the design, the quality of the embossing and the overall condition of the card will make a big difference in the value.  Expect to pay about $8.00 - $12.00 for commonly available cards and up to $50.00 for  harder-to-find images.  There are also embossed and signed Clapsaddle Halloween designs which go in the hundreds.  These estimates are for cards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates.     

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pretty LADIES with CUPID on Antique VALENTINE Postcards

We begin this Valentine's Day post with a fantasy image of a Pretty Lady inside a rose.  We have quite a collection of fantasies, and pretty ladies (or children) inside flowers constitute a genre by themselves.  Here on this embossed postcard with a gold background, Cupid has arrived with a Valentine's card in an envelope, the heart peeking out at the top.   This post focuses on combinations of lovely ladies with Cupid, with him sometimes shown offering advice to the love-struck.  Of course, Cupid appears on Valentines in many settings; here he is a companion,  advisor or - sometimes - an attacker!

This postcard has detailed embossing and 'silk' (the term for a smooth fabric added to an antique postcard) applied to the lady's coat and to red hearts.  Cupid appears with a paintpot, apparently coloring the hearts red.  He offers a big fabric one, in the role of a gentle helper.  Nice gold swirls form a 'frame' around the central image and lavish applications of blue forget-me-nots add color contrast. 

This antique postcard combines lots of blue forget-me-nots (perfect flowers for a Valentine!) with a wonderful open automobile that has gold added to the visible parts.  Cupid, that rascal, is about to shoot an arrow that seems aimed at our heroine's neck...fortunately the mph in automobiles of this vintage hovered in the 20s...so the accident that appears about to happen may not cause much damage. 
Here we have a calmer image, although Cupid has presented our Lady with a pierced heart - his favorite kind. She's wearing a truly fantastic outfit with a fashionable large hat.  This postcard features a rose tree forming a 'frame' for the central image.

Below are images of Cupid offering advice, whispered in our Lady's ear.  These are two embossed examples of Cupid as Advisor.
The colorful image below illustrates one of the challenges in classifying antique Valentine postcards...we have asked this question before:  Isn't there just ONE Cupid?  How are we to distinguish him from Angels?  Sometimes Cupid is shown with wings and sometimes not.  He usually has a quiver of arrows and a bow, sometimes a pierced heart as we see above.  So we imagine that the winged companions on this Valentine's Day postcard are all Angels - the one closest to the Lady is blowing a bubble heart with a tiny bubble pipe...and you will note that s/he is perched inside a flower.   A beautiful embossed image with fantasy elements.  
On the left is another fantasy image - this time both the Lady and Cupid are inside flowers, Spring tulips in red and white with embossed details.  A lovely design for Valentine's Day with the classic pierced hearts and a poetic greeting at the bottom.

Price estimates: Valentine Cupid postcards vary in value largely because of the intricacy and rarity of the design.  Top quality artwork makes a big difference and a premium will be paid for Valentines from the top publishers: PFB, Nister, Tuck.  All the postcards shown in this post are embossed and some have added gilding.  The fashion in silk postcards ebbs and flows - these postcards are currently undervalued in our opinion.  Prices for these postcards range from $5 to $15 at auction, somewhat higher in the eBay stores.  Check the auctions and bid conservatively, or seek these at postcard shows - some dealers wll ask a lot, other dealers will be more reasonable.   These prices are for postcards in EXCELLENT  condition, and they are only estimates.