Thursday, November 17, 2011

Look what turned up in the mail:
an Edwardian holiday beauty

I get the best mail! A few weeks ago, I posted an item about some Dennison Halloween stickers that I had nabbed and in it, mentioned how red hot Halloween is among paper collectors. Well, all collectors. A few days later, a plain, No. 10 business envelope arrived in the mail. It was from my friend Laura Chapman.

Laura had recently given me a nice cache of paper from her collage-making days that included food labels, French newspapers and signs from the 1950s, paper sample booklets and more. Now, she was sending me some holiday postcards - pretty much the only postcards I collect. I thumbed through them and when I got to the one on the bottom of the pile, I gasped. Really. It was the marvelous 1912 postcard above.

Anyone who collects postcards will recognize it immediately as one of New York publisher John Winsch's and as the work of illustrator Samuel Loren Schmucker (1879-1921). Happily, it has the Winsch copyright in the bottom left corner. Winsch's company wasn't around long - just five or so years - but it was the heyday of postcard publishing and the company made quite an impact.

The illustrations of "beautiful women" that Schmucker created for Winsch - and for the Detroit Publishing Co., earlier - are among the most collectible postcards. His gorgeous, rosy-cheeked "girls" almost as iconic as Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girls." His wife, Katharine - considered a great American beauty - was his initial model.

I don't have many Winsch/Schmucker cards; they're usually outside my price range. Yet over the years, I've managed to snap up some at bargain prices. Two seasonal ones are below; the Thanksgiving card is from 1911 and the Christmas one from 1910. Oh, and two more beautiful Christmas women are in my exhibit case in the dining room of the Taft Museum of Art as part of its annual Antique Christmas exhibition.


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