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

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Old postcards reflect the American ambivalence toward alcohol and drunkeness - there are many images that make light of drunken men and their behavior.  We show a couple of examples here. 

 The colorful fellow in the barrel seems to be happy to be drunk, while the fellow with a candle stumbling toward bed illustrates another view of the inebriated citizen, befuddled and defensive. 

The camel quote below is a popular postcard theme, and is available with a variety of illustrations.  The sentiment is pro-alcohol, implying that no one in their right mind would want to do without.

On the other hand, the prevalence of alcoholism and the problems it posed to many families in the early 1900s, where the weekly paycheck was spent on liquor at the local saloon instead of paying for rent and food, was present in anti-alcohol images on postcards.  Here is a play on words using the popular image of a dog listening to a gramophone...instead of the musical horn, we see a large funnel set into a liquor bottle and the caption tells us the true meaning.  

If you have not yet seen the Ken Burns series on Prohibition, you may find it intriguing and educational.  The series outlines the ambivalence toward alcohol use, the conflicting factors on the political scene, and the unintended consequences of prohibition.  (For instance, did you know that Prohibition promoted the rapid growth of organized crime in America?)  On the side of instituting Prohibition were those concerned about the detrimental effects of alcohol on America's young men and their families.  Here are a few colorful images with that perspective.  A.T. Cook is the artist of these elaborate drawings.  In the third image, we see the comment, James is a drunkard, Henry owns a Handsome House

Although Prohibition was made law in 1919, the conflict of ideas did not cease.  Many postcards continued to show drunken men (not women!) as humorous, while the anti-drinking factions continued to promote sobriety and family responsibility. 

A pro-sobriety image offers one view of Prohibition as lovers cheerfully share a drink at a water fountain.

 Below is a humorous postcard about sobriety...which also illustrates the origin of the saying, "On the wagon."  A variety of Water Wagon images can be found relating to sobriety.

We also learned from the Ken Burns film the true impetus behind eventually repealing Prohibition - this postcard tells the hope of a positive result, where repeal would put the unemployed back to work and save the nation from poverty. 

Entitled Dream of Prosperity, the script at the bottom begins Last night I dreamed that the Volstead Law had been amended, permitting the sale of beer (Oh!  What a grand and glorious feeling!)  Immediately 100,000 carpenters, bricklayers and laborers went to work building and refitting breweries; 50,000 brewery truck drivers, helpers, vatmen and coppersmiths were hired; and 100,000 printers were put to work printing beer labels.  The Volstead Act, Prohibition, was repealed in 1933.
Price Estimates: Prohibition and alcohol-related cards vary widely in price.  Some of the WCTU - Women's Christian Temperance Union - postcards can be priced high, especially the real photo images of demonstrations and parades.  However, the cards in this post cost between about $5 - $15. These prices are for cards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Silk SANTA CLAUS Christmas Postcards

This post is about fabric-added Santa Claus novelty postcards, all with rich embossing.  We especially like the way the fabric added to these images intensifies the color on our favorite holiday fellow.  We also enjoy how friendly Santa appears in these cards, with his expression varying from a quiet gentleness to a truly jolly smile.

There's a wide variety of silk Santa Claus images, showing him with Angels, children, and with different modes of transportation.  Here we show a sampling of images, all marked Made in Germany on the back.

As with many valuable postcards, you will find lower prices at auction than in on-line stores or at postcard shows.  Because these Christmas postcards are so desirable, there can be lively competition for them.  While the prices are high, remember that the more valuable the postcards you collect, the more likely they are to appreciate in value significantly over the years. 

We love this image of Santa Claus in an old-fashioned imaginative dirigible with the earth far below him.  This dramatic image gives him more altitude than his task seems to require, but it's a lovely design with blue silk on the doll as well as red silk on Santa.  The embossing on the basket and holly is very detailed.


Considering how busy Santa is on Christmas eve, he can be forgiven a few shortcuts.  Here he meets little girls at their window to give them their toys.  Perhaps these children didn't have a chimney.  Apartment dwellers look forward to his visits, too!  One of the little girls wears a blue dress with silk added in this image.

This is an intriguing montage of Christmas images with Santa Claus and his reindeer on the snowy rooftop on the right side...and a scene of the sleeping children on the left.  Santa's sleigh is full of the usual toys and also has an American flag, indicating that this design was destined for the American market.

A whimsical design shows Santa on a big handsome rocking horse, perhaps testing this beautiful toy before he leaves it for a lucky child.  Santa seems especially cheerful in this image as he rides along under a bright moon.

In our last image, Santa holds up a flaming torch to light the way in a dark forest, with a crescent moon shining on the right side.  A group of Angels and children form a little parade with him, carrying toys, playing a drum, holding a sack...charming imagery with lots of action!

Price Estimates:  These highly-collectible postcards range in price from about $25 up to $75 and more. They are commonly priced over $50, but careful shopping may find quality examples for less.  The more unusual images cost more.  In this post, the most valuable postcard is the design of Santa Claus in his dirigible.  These prices are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates.

Friday, December 2, 2011

CHRISTMAS ANGELS on Antique Postcards

As the holiday season approaches, it's a good time to look at some of the antique postcards devoted to Christmas celebrations.  This post is about Angels, many musical, that graced greetings at the turn of the century.   The blond Angel above resembles art by Ellen Clapsaddle but appears on a nicely embossed postcard without a publisher's name on the back.  Since publishers often stole artwork from other publishers, it's hard to know exact histories for some of our favorite images.  This pretty postcard is Printed in Germany. 

These pretty singers appear on an early undivided back postcard.  The image is done in soft colors on a flat postcard, with lit candles on the tree.  Imagine having lit wax candles on an evergreen tree now - we'd consider it a fire hazard.  But at the time, it must have looked quite magical, especially in the evening as the light faded outdoors. 

These two heavily embossed Angels have airbrushed colors that make them stand out dramatically from their dark green backgrounds.    The card on the left has clouds embossed in the background, adding to the fantasy quality.  The publisher is not identified on these postcards, either.

A  silver background creates a lovely setting for this dark-haired Angel with a pink-trimmed gown and white feathery wings.  She is shown with mistletoe on this early undivided back flat postcard postmarked 1907.  Exceptional artwork and a mist of gold at the top of the background make this image special.

Here we see another musical Angel with giant wings, as she floats above a snowy landscape, her music in hand.  This postcard is nicely embossed with wonderful gold stars dotting the deep blue sky.  Our Angel finds her footing in a soft swirl of white cloud - a lovely image on another Printed in Germany postcard.  On the back is printed Post Card, Poskarte, Carte Postale, indicating the three markets where the postcard would be made available to buyers.

We close this post with a very unusual Angel on a poster-style postcard, protecting young women workers below her sheltering pink wings.  This is a holiday greeting with a social action theme.  Below, you will find the sentiment printed on the back of the postcard in the message section.  

Price Estimates:  Angel postcards range widely in price, from about $6 up to $25 or more, depending on design and quality.  Images of larger Angels, and images with lavish embossing and lots of silver or gold details added, usually cost more than plainer postcards.  Angels with children or shown with Santa Claus command a higher price. These prices are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition and they are only estimates