Sunday, March 17, 2013

Smile! It's St. Patrick's Day ,,,

Top o' the morning. At it is the top of the morning. I slept in after staying up 'til the wee hours of the morning messing around with a design project.

It's gray and dreary here in Cincinnati, and since there's a bit of Irish in me - on my mom's side of the family - I thought I'd brighten the day with St. Patrick's Day postcards from the archive. I skipped the landscapes in favor of those with people, and two sets from specific series and artists.

When I began collecting pre-WWI holiday postcards, I spent too much on them. The card above, published in 1912 by Boston's A.M. Davis Co. as part of its series 705, is a good example of what I mean. I paid a whopping $15 for it at a flea market. I knew it was too much, but didn't have many St. Pat's then and wasn't seeing many, so I pounced. 

Back then, I also tended to buy cards that were not in great shape (note the postmark ink coming through to the front of the card). I figured they could be fixed up in Photoshop when I wanted to make reproductions, which was the plan. But as I got deeper into collecting, I yearned for cards in better condition. That's when my master's in library science came in handy, because as I researched publishers and artists, it became obvious I was overpaying. Happily, it was a lesson learned early on.

The cards here are a mix of mint, good and poor. I'll admit, I still fall for crummy ones when there is an image I can't resist.

The cards above were all published by Boston's International Art Publishing, and were drawn by Ellen Clapsaddle. She was one of their premiere artists. Her work - which is copyright free - is widely reproduced, popping up on everything from mugs to tote bags. The most collectible of the cards are those with her signature on the front (the two at the top).    

This sweet series was published by England's Raphael Tuck and Sons as part of its St. Patrick's Day series No. 106. Pigs have always been considered lucky in Europe. They are a sign of prosperity, and appear on many St. Pat's cards, as well as New Year's cards. Of course, the requisite good luck charm, the four-leaf clover, is ever present.

The cards teach a bit about the evolution of postcards. The one on the top left (postmarked 1907) with all the writing on it has what's known as an "undivided" back. Postal regulations specified that the address was the only thing that could be written on the back. Then, the rules changed and backs were divided - like now - to allow an address and a message. The other two cards (postmarked 1908 and 1909) represent that change.

One last card that is so goofy I couldn't resist adding it ...