Archive for the Postcard Category

A Joyful Hallowe’en, 1913

Posted in 10s, Lithograph, Postcard, SFW on 24 January 2011 by redwitch1

This postcard has a copyright mark “© H. L. W.” These are the initials of H. L. Woehler, from New York—though the card was printed in Germany.

The back is undivided but I have another postcard from this series by H. L. Woehler that is postmarked 12 October 1912 at Natick. MA. That card is described as a “Handembossed Postcard,” which seems to mean that it is hand painted or finished. This one is also “Handembossed” [sic]. In a moment it will become clear why I mention this other card at the outset.

As you can see, the front of the card has the caption “A Joyful Hallowe’en” in gold lettering above a lovely young blonde-haired witch in a loose, red, Grecian-style sleeveless dress and cape. She is showing off a broad expanse of pale skin around the neck and shoulders as she leans back into large, smiling JOL. She has a wide-brimmed, pointed black witch’s hat and a broom with a rather thin and curved handle. The card is textured and has a red edge.

Written around the artwork and caption on this face of the postcard is some doggrel verse inviting the un-named recipient to a Halloween party, followed by an address. The verse reads (as far as I can tell):

The old Witch bids her guests arrive
On Hallowe’en, if they would thrive.
Their fortunes then she’ll gladly brew
Within her pot so black of hue;
A Pumpkin Elf will quick preside
O’er feast and frolic. Woe betide
All those who miss the broomstick dance,
Or candle March! Don’t take the chance!

At the foot of the card we have the date and the name and address of the sender “Thursday Eve / October 30 8.30PM” and “Elizabeth Hayes Wilkinson / 526 N. Negley Avenue” (which is in Pittsburgh, PA).

As it happens, 30 October fell on a Thursday in 1890, 1902, 1913, and 1919. Since the verso of the card is undivided, and the inscription is on the front, it might seem safe to assume that the card was published before ca. 1907 when cards started to be published with a divided back (that is, that it was published in 1890 or 1902).

But, as I said at the outset, this card is part of a series which can be dated to 1912, so—despite the undivided back and inscriptionon the front—it probably dates to 1913. Another feature supporting this date is the red edge, which appears (among my cards at least) only on those from 1910–1913. So, I reckon this particular broomstick dance occurred on 30 October 1913.

Christmas Witch (not Befana), 1907

Posted in 00s, Photograph, Postcard, SFW on 14 December 2010 by redwitch1

Every January I slap my forehead and vow I will remember to do a post of La Befana next year (La Befana is the Christmas witch who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on the night of 5 January). Once again I have forgotten to do this, though I remembered that I had forgotten a little earlier than usual. Even still, since I will be away for three weeks (until the second week of January), Befana will have to wait another year.

As you can see, this year I thought I’d wish you “A Merry Xmas & A Happy New Year” with a postcard from Philco (“Philco Series 6021 A”). Philco (aka “Philcom Publishing Co.”) were based at Holborn Place, London but printed their postcards “At Our Works In Prussia.”

They did a long series of photographic postcards of actresses, some tinted (see here), and seem to have used these photographs to create seasonal cards like this one. (See here for another Christmas post card, here for a New Year’s postcard and here for one titled “All Joy to You This Easter.”)

No doubt, if you had all of the Philco postcards all you’d be able to work out who the women are in this card. That is what this collector has been able to do by concentrating on a single actress: the gorgeous Maude Fealy. Since I am not a Philco collector of any description, I can’t identify our witch.

I can tell you, however, that the artist who has painted her neck-to-toe outfit has created a neo-medieval ensemble, complete with a late 15th century Burgundian hennin and veil (the pointed form of this cone-shaped headdress). The magical and astronomical symbols on her dress and on her long cape recall a wizard’s outfit, and “the hennin forms part of the costume of the stereotypical fairy tale princess”—so the outfit is a little confused in it’s design.

Despite the fact that our shapely witch is not on her broom—either astride it, or riding side-saddle—but simply pressing the broom to her side, she is flying over the rooftops with her entourage resting on her cape. And despite the incongruity of a witch doing all this while wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year—rather than a Happy Halloween—it is a witch who is doing this!

Schmucker’s Sexy Witch, 1911: The Holy Grail of Halloween Collectors

Posted in 10s, chromolithograph, Halloween, Postcard, SFW on 2 December 2010 by redwitch1

If you look at this page on AmericanPostcardArt.com you will find a few comments about this card that explains the title of this post.

If I’m only going to offer a few Halloween images, they might as well be the best, and it doesn’t get any better than the combination of [the artwork of] Samuel Schmucker and [the printing of] John Winsch. These are pretty much the holy grail of Halloween collectors, and they are stunning cards … This image is superb – colors, graphics, content.

If this sounds like hyperbole have a good look at this Samuel L. Schmucker artwork. This particular card shows

a beautiful young witch on her broomstick, dressed in a flowing green gown with goblins appliquéd on the skirt, draped in a purple cloak, and wearing a strange purplish dunce’s cap with red suns and stars. There’s an owl hitching a ride on her broom. Behind her is a full moon with a rather leering expression, and the sky is lovely with stars.

(For “strange purplish dunce’s cap” read “gorgeous silver witch’s hat”—but otherwise it is a good description.)

The writer on AmericanPostcardArt.com doesn’t mention that the card is embossed, which is not very obvious in scans, or the effect that this has on the lovely skin tones of our witch’s rounded arms, the rippled skirt, the layered feathers and the rough brush of the broom.

The caption reads:

All Hallowe’en
When the world is wrapped in slumber,
And the moon is sailing high,
If you peep between the curtains
You’ll see witches riding by.

The card was posted by “Aunty LuLu” from Azusa to “Miss Julia Heslop” in Pasadena, California on 26 November 1912. As you can see, the copyright date is 1911 but the publisher (John Winsch) was not going to give up on such a popular design and it must have been re-issued from year to year because I have seen franking dates into the late teens.

These cards are featured in almost every work on Halloween collectibles, and many collector’s guides wax lyrical about them. Lisa Morton in The Halloween Encyclopedia (2003), 141, writes:

Today these [post]cards are highly prized Collectibles, none more so than those manufactured by John Winsch; Winsch cards featuring the artwork of Samuel L. Schmucker are small masterpieces of art nouveau, combining enchanting women, Halloween symbols, and high quality prinnting, often with gelatin finishes.

J. L. Mashburn in Fantasy Postcards: A Comprehensive Reference (1996), 235, writes:

The classical J. Winsch cards, illustrating the beautiful works of S. L. Schmucker … are definitely the most sought after of all that were published.

As the writer on AmericanPostcardArt.com says “not only are these cards terrifically expensive, they are darned difficult to find no matter what your budget!” In 1996, Mashburn valued the cards at USD100; I have seen them regularly pass USD200; and one particularly lovely one, with an embossed border, went for USD1000!

I have long wanted this particular Winsch/Schmucker card—I adore the green dress—but there are a few other Schmucker designs that feature witches. The only problem is, because they are so well know, highly prized, and often reproduced, there didn’t seem much point struggling to get one and blog it, because the chances are you have all seen it before. And when I do my book, the publisher will easily be able to obtain images and rights to reproduce all the Winsch/Schmucker cards.

And, as my regular readers will know, I have chased down the more obscure witchy material first. But, I kept watch for over five years and recently picked this one up at a reasonable price. It could be as many more years before I get any of the others, and I doubt I will ever see another one under USD100. So, enjoy—and possess yourself of patience! (Or become a ninja delivery-person. The work is light and the pay is good!)

Witches Young and Fair, 1912

Posted in 10s, Halloween, Lithograph, Postcard, SFW on 19 November 2010 by redwitch1

The artwork on this lovely postcard is by Clare Angell, a reasonably prolific artists, but beyond that I know nothing about her. (Believe it or not, this is her signature below!)

I am not sure why she has tied her full-chested, Gibson-girl witch, to her broom. I would have thought her hat (which is circled by a snake, and decorated with ostrich feathers) is in more danger of being blown away, than she is!

A close look at her seductive leer …

explains the warning to young men printed below

Young man have a care,
Witches are flying through the air.
Not old and ugly:
But young and Fair.

Fair indeed. The whole composition makes me want to say oh là là, because this outfit is clearly inspired by naughty French cabaret dancers of the Moulin Rouge-type.

But our naughty witch is not alone. Here are her friends, her midnight-companions, her bon amis familiers.

And ladies, check out these shoes …

* * * * *

It took me four years to get a copy of this postcard. And not just because only a few came up on eBay in that time, it was the price! When I finally managed to find one for under USD100 the &%#!@ … sorry, the &%#!@ &%#!@ … I’ll try again, the seller charged USD35 postage for it. The thief! Normally, the postage is one tenth of that.

But, when I questioned the &%#!@ … sorry, the &%#!@ &%#!@ … I’ll try again, the seller about why the postage costs were so high, they blocked me as a buyer! the &%#!@ &%#!@ &%#!@ &%#!@ &%#!@ &%#!@.

Unfortunately for me, this particular … [breaks coffee cup] … seller had a lot of great witchy postcards, cards I had been trying to get for years and years, and so I had to set up a fresh ID, outbid myself, buy the cards and pay the &%#!@ postage. I mention all of this because—if I can regain my composure—you will be seeing some these awesome cards in the next few weeks. I am just going to count to ten thousand now, and then I will be fine …

Pittsburgh for me on Halloween!?

Posted in 10s, Halloween, Postcard, SFW on 27 October 2010 by redwitch1

“Pittsburgh for me on Halloween.” WTF?! Could someone from Pittsburgh explain this to me? Why Pittsburgh? Why not Salem? Perhaps this is part of a series of cards, one for each city: “New York for me on Halloween”; “Boston for me on Halloween”; “Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, for me on Halloween”? Similarly mysterious is the artist: “Lewis.” I have no clues to her/his identity.

The date I can guess at as circa-, but post-, 1915: possibly as late as 1925. It is a cute image, and nice lettering on the front, but the back is the give-away: it is divided, very clearly, and the font is a roman serif. It is a no-nonsense arrangement. The lack of any swirling or elaborate rules and writing on the back suggests that it is post-Art Nouveau, or early Deco. The writing on the front seems early Deco to me (there is a hint of serif, but it is mostly strong uprights). And while our witch is in classic 1890s-style clothes, the colours are dull and the printing is a simple two-colour process, which we see early (pre-1905) and late (post-1915), but not often in the middle of the postcard boom. Since the back rules out an early card, I am guessing it is late: WWI-period or just after.

Which brings me to the image. As I said, the composition, clothes etc are all ca. 1890. There is a ruffle under the pointed hat, a corseted top, close-buttoned, with (I am guessing) mutton shoulders, but short sleeves; a long drop on the skirt, heavy stockings, and buckled shoes; and a cape! All, seemingly and appropriately, in black. And then there is the minions: the black cat (the witch’s familiar) on the broom and half a dozen bats: one far too close for our feline familiar’s comfort.

What is missing is any naturalistic detail, no landscape or city-scape, no clouds, sky or stars. The moon is also without detail, it is just a round disk. To me the whole thing looks like a logo, like the Salem-city logo, which appears on shirts and caps and coffee-cups. Perhaps there is an organization or sports club in Pittsburgh that uses a witch like this as it’s logo? If so, it might explain the caption!

Witches’ Sabbat in Paris, Revisited

Posted in 10s, Photograph, Postcard, PSFW on 26 October 2010 by redwitch1
[the witches arrive, and are anointed]

James B. has kindly donated a clear scan of a card missing that I am missing from this fabulous sequence of postcards: Witches’ Sabbat in Paris, ca. 1910. As I explained when I posted them in April 2007:

This sequence of [eight?] French postcards shows the various steps that a group of young witches go through on their way to a sabbat (or sabbath if you prefer). We see the witches arrive, being anointed, flying up the chimney, flying over Paris, and arriving at the sabbat, where the devil is waiting in an ancient circle of standing stones.

[the witches fly up the chimney, and arrive at the sabbat]

My post on only five of these eight cards was the most popular I’d ever done. I went from about five hundred hits every three days, to ten thousand. I couldn’t believe my eyes! In fact, I got so much traffic that my image host pulled the plug on a stack of my images and it took me weeks to get them rehosted and for the traffic to settle back to normal.

[the witches flying over Paris (which should go between the previous two, but it is the wrong shape)]

Anyway, as a pre-Halloween gift James has agreed to let me post him card. Above are smaller versions of my cards (see the original post here for the full versions) to remind you of the sequence, and below is the card that James B. has, which I am trying to persuade him to part with. I am pretty sure it goes at the end.

[having bowed to the Devil, our witches perform a ritual]

For those of you who haven’t explored my previous posts, this is my opportunity to remind you that you might have missed something that you’d like!

[detail of ritual]

Best Wishes for Halloween, ca. 1910

Posted in 10s, chromolithograph, Halloween, Postcard, SFW on 13 October 2010 by redwitch1

This wonderful image, of a witch flying on a paintbrush, was published in Germany by “Gottschalk, Dreyfus & Davis, London, Munich, New York.” It is one of a series of Halloween postcards that was issued around 1910 in two different versions: one, a lovely, very fine lithographic sepia (“Series No. 2662″), the other in a colour tint with a gelatin finish (“Series No. 2693″).

If you look very closely you will see that these are not identical images, note—for instance—the eyes and the length of the wand. They are also printed using different processes, the lithograph giving a very fine, almost flawless, representation of pen and ink shading, the other using benday tints (larger or smaller dots of colour) to do the same thing.

It is tempting to assume that the sepia card was issued first, and that the publishers produced the colour card in the next season when they knew they were on a winner—but it is just as likely that the sepia and colour cards were issued at the same time at different prices. If you look here you will see that the colouring differs between issues of the colour cards, and possibly differed between cards in a single print-run! Which means you could really go crazy (and broke) collecting these cards, trying to get one with each variation of colouring.

Personally, I am quite happy with the two I have. Just look at this gorgeous witch!

And here are a few details: we have a crow, instead of a cat, as a familiar. And here again are a wonderful examples of witchy footwear.

And check out this Art Nouveau styling on the back of the card, or Jugendstil I should say, since it was almost certainly the product of a German artist, as well as the product of a German printer.

As for the composition: the witch is riding a paint-brush, suspended above crossed quills and an open book, accompanied by a crow. The witch holds a wand and a crescent moon and stars occupy the background.

No doubt, the book and crossed quills represent books and the literary imagination, while the paint brush represents art and the artistic imagination. So, I guess this beautiful witch is identified as the product of a literary and artistic imagination.

No doubt she is riding the paint brush rather than the quill because the artist behind this image was, well, an artist, not an author, and so the brush represents his brush …

And so, can I just say that the paintbrush is rather suggestively angled, and that the way the brush rises from between the crossed quills looks rather like something Freud would readily recognise as rising from between two (male) thighs.

And so, can I also say that the shaft is very impressive, that the witch seems very happy to be riding this particular artists’ paintbrush, that and that she has a firm grip on the, um, brush. Just saying.

Is this really SFW?

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