Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The art of thanksgiving

Front and back of a Prang Thanksgiving card.
Over the years, hundreds of antique Thanksgiving postcards and greeting cards have been added to my collection. They tend to fall along the line of turkeys, pilgrims, children and turkeys, the fall harvest, and fields of plenty. Some are humorous, some are serious, and some are just downright weird.

Among them, are five that are my absolute favorites. They were published by Louis Prang & Co., of Boston. Prang is a name familiar to artists, and especially art teachers, to this day via the company's art supplies. But in the 19th century. Prang - a German immigrant whose father was a printer - made his name as a publisher of stunningly beautiful color lithographs.

He started out printing small replicas of well-known paintings, then, launched an art magazine. After a trip to Germany to catch up on the latest printing techniques, he began printing cards specifically for scrapbookers.

In 1874, he started selling Christmas cards in America, a year after launching them in England. Prang died in 1909, about a decade after his company merged with Taber. That company went belly up in the 1930s. But his legacy lives on in his beautiful cards, for which he is given credit as being "the father of the American Christmas card." I feel lucky - and, yes, thankful - to own ANY of his cards.

Here are the other four … note that the grape card is printed with a different greeting. It was common for publishers to recycle images.  These are blank on the back, which means that each was probably glued to a second card - similar to the back one above - with an edging of silk fringe sandwiched between them.