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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Whitney REBUS CHRISTMAS Postcards

Puzzles are an intriguing sub-set of postcard collecting themes and rebus designs, where objects are used to substitute for words, are particularly fun for young collectors.  If you are trying to interest a child in collecting, this is a good place to start.  Whitney published two sets of divided-back rebus Christmas postcards shown in this post.  One has gold borders outside of a red-line border and we begin with those.  Above you see Santa Claus in the main image, and children feature in the large top images on the postcards below.  

These colorful postcards all have messages that seem especially addressed to children. 

The second set of rebus Christmas postcards have no borders and some examples can be seen below.  

If you are a fan of Whitney designs, you have probably noticed that the popular Nimble Nicks series was illustrated by several different artists.  These two rebus series appear to have had different artists, too.  Either set is charming and sure to fit into any holiday collection.  

This is the last post of 2014 - Thanks for your interest throughout the year and Happy Holidays from Florida!

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

Some Paul Finkenrath Berlin (PFB) CHRISTMAS Postcards

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!

Tuck CHRISTMAS Postcard Series #512

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

SMOKIN' HOT WOMEN on Antique Postcards

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.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Publishers of antique & vintage postcards had several ways to save money.  This post illustrates three different ways publishers could economize.  First, recycling images by well known artists, like the image above by Marie Flatscher.  In one, shamrocks symbolize Good Luck in the New Year.  The second postcard, also for the New Year, features birds on a wintery branch and a different window treatment.  

Below are more examples of recycled artwork.  The first is from Winsch publishers on Easter postcards where a change of border style and the addition of a child makes a "new" image.  

Next are two examples of art deco style postcards from the 1920s, recycling images with some changes to create different designs or simply changing the background color.

The second way publishers saved money, a little bizarre, was reusing designs but with a different greeting.  These are plentiful and easy to spot.  We begin with an obvious Easter chick from Tuck publishers casting an eye on a lemon and wondering what relationship it might have to an egg.  More puzzling - what does this image have to do with Christmas?

Below are two Valentines, one with Cupid helping a pretty lady decide between love and money (a recurring theme in turn-of-the century Valentines), and one with Cupid surprising a lady while she reads a love letter.  These have been recycled as a Christmas greeting with the addition of some holly and as a birthday postcard with the design unchanged.

Here is a well-known antique New Year design with children holding shamrocks and a horn, both traditional New Year symbols, and old Father Time from the previous year leaving in the background. The old car and the new red auto reinforce the old/new symbolism.  It has been recycled as a birthday greeting with no change to the design.

The third way to save money was for publishers to print divided backs on what had originally been undivided back stock with the front design intact.  The laws changed, allowing messages to be written on the back of the postcard, where publishers had originally left space on the front for the message when only the address was allowed on the back.  The following postcards have divided backs, but the image still has the space from when postcards had undivided backs.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Antique FADE AWAY Postcards

Fade away (fadeaway) postcard designs combine background colors with images to create an inventive picture that challenges the viewer to look closely.  This is a fun fool-the-eye element that adds interest to holiday and greeting postcards from the early 1900s.  

Our opening image is a Gibson Art-published divided back flat Christmas postcard where Santa Claus has a suit that blends into the background.  Gibson Art also published the fine image below of a lady driving a red automobile on a red background. Check the area near the steering wheel, where the image of her arm fades into the red background. Both of these postcards were postmarked 1913. 

Below is an example from one of my favorite series of fade away postcards, published by Stecher, with lovely little girls holding Easter rabbits and chicks.  The background is a gorgeous violet color and the fade away design is significant, with the girls' outfits completely blended into the background.  Light embossing adds to the charm of these divided back postcards.  

A different sort of fade away design is evident on the glamorous art deco image below of a woman in black stockings and a chemise that matches the background,  An artist-signed Italian postcard with divided back flat image, the smoke from her cigarette creates the caption. Elegant and spare, this is a classy risque design in the fade away style.  

Another Gibson Art Christmas postcard adds a whimsical cherub on a mailbox with children sending holiday wishes.   A divided back flat design, the little girl in white has a winter coat and boots that fade into the snowy background.  Note the footstep marks in the snow - a subtle touch added to a bright postcard.

The following three fade away designs are by a famed artist of the genre, Coles Phillips, who early on signed his work C. Coles Phillips and later dropped the initial C.  His artwork could be found on advertisements and postcards, frequently featuring lovely women with significant fade away elements.  A well-regarded artist among collectors, the sophistication of his images makes his postcards very popular.

The last image here called PALS by Phillips has a design and color palette that predates Bev Doolittle's modern fade away prints.  In her Hide and Seek Cameo series, brown and white horses fade into a background of rocks, earth and snow with a similar combination of colors.  Her beautiful prints can be seen on the internet.

PRICE ESTIMATES:  Prices for fade away postcards range from about $6 - $25 for the Stecher and Gibson Art designs and about $35 - $60 for the artist-signed Coles Phillips & Italian postcards.  These estimates are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition and they are only estimates.