Collecting Halloween Postcards
The Most Collectible Vintage Postcards...Halloween!
Vintage Halloween postcards are highly prized by postcard collectors and by many of those interested in collecting all sorts of other Halloween novelties and memorabilia. Collectors tend to hold on to their cards but aspiring collectors can find them if they know where to look for them or if they're willing to pay a bit (or more) to own the cards they want.
The early 1900s were the "heyday" for Halloween postcards. They are still, of course, printed today but it's hard for today's completely mass produced cards to hold a candle to the famous artist signed and famous printer produced cards of Halloweens long since passed by.
Please join me for a Halloween ride down memory lane...
A Little Halloween Card History
Postcards were actually the fastest, most effective means of communication among distantly located family and friends between the end of the 1800's and the end of World War 1 in 1918. After that, the automobile took a hold of America's psyche and things were never the same.
People sent postcards just to stay in touch in the early days before cars and telephones but it was quite popular to send postcards on holidays. Christmas was, of course, the biggest holiday for those sending out greetings but, surprisingly, Halloween was second in popularity. Who, after all, could resist sending a cute, or maybe even a bit naughty postcard to a friend to mark the occasion?!
The BIG Names in Halloween Postcards - From Brundage to Witney...
In the golden age of postcards, there were some very well known names behind the design and printing of the Halloween cards that are the most desired by today's collectors:
Francis Brundage (Artist) - (1854-1937) An American illustrator who did a lot of famous work depicting children. She is most well known for her book illustrations (Louisa May Alcott, Robert Lewis Stevenson and many more) but she is also known for her postcard work in many genres. She did a lot of the postcard work for publishers Raphael Tuck and Sons (see below). Collectors seek out all of her body of work.
Ellen Clapsaddle (Artist) - (1865-1934) An American illustrator and commercial artist who was trained by the Cooper Union Institute for the Advancement of Art and Science. She is best known, by far, for her work with postcards. Her designs are highly sought by collectors in all genres, not just Halloween. She has been credited with more than 3,000 postcard designs.
E. Nash (Publisher - Artists Unknown) - Little is known about the postcard publisher E. Nash Company. Many great holiday cards for all holidays can be found with "E. Nash" in small type on the card front that were posted during the early 1900s. We've run across samples so far that date from 1907 to 1915. We'll add more information about the company and its artists here as we find it.
Samuel Schmucker (Artist) - (1879-1921) - An established, school trained, commercial artist who made his living primarily from postcard designs but also by sketching fashion plates for the Philadelphia (PA) Daily Press. He did most of his postcard work for "publisher" (see below) John Winsch. He often used his own wife as the model for cards that depict a "wide eyed" woman as part of the Halloween scene. He would either sign the card designs or place the initals "JLS" in a lower corner. His work is some of the most distinctive in Halloween postcard design.
Raphael Tuck and Sons (Artists and publishers, also worked with other artists) - Raphael Tuck established his picture and framing business in England in 1866. His sons (3) joined him in the business in 1870 and 1871. They offered a full line of greeting and holiday postcards in England. In 1900, they entered the U.S. market. Tuck Postcards say Raphael Tuck & Sons or Tuck & Sons and almost all of them have printed on the back, ""ART PUBLISHERS TO THEIR MAJESTIES THE KING AND QUEEN". They were famous for their postcard competitions aimed at collectors (cash prizes for the most Tuck cards owned).
John Winsch (Publisher/Agent/Importer - Worked often with Artist Samuel Schmucker) - Approx 1907-1915. John Winsch is a mystery to collectors. Some have traced his history and determined him to be a publisher based in New York City during the years cited. Others have determined him to be an agent of various American publishers doing business with German publishing houses that were common in the Golden Age of postcards. Regardless, his name is often mentioned in the same sentence with that of one of the most well known Halloween (and, in fact, postcards period) artists, Samuel Schmucker. Many Winsch cards are Schmucker designs. It is agreed that whether Winsch was a publisher or an "agent", most of the Winsch cards were printed in Germany.
George Witney (Publisher) - Approx 1900-1920 - Made holiday cards including mechanical cards. Cards have "Witney Made" or a red "W" imprinted.
Who's Your Favorite?
So, who's Your Favorite Halloween Postcard Designer?
So Where Do I Get Halloween Postcards for My Collection?
Halloween card collectors hang onto their cards. Though many great "vintage" or "antique" cards were printed in abundance, they're often hard to find because people just don't give them up very willingly. If you find these laying on a table at a yard sale or a flea market, you can either consider yourself lucky to be the first to spot them or be very wary that they're reprints. If the sellers can't satisfactorily answer your questions, walk away quickly and don't give the cards another thought.
So where are the best places to buy legitimate, vintage Halloween postcards?
2. Delcampe (.net, not .com)
3. Ruby Lane
4. Live auctions at reputable auction houses (we have a great source near us that gets thousands of postcards all the time...but we're not telling where it is...sorry!)
For live auctions, we love AuctionZip. If you look there, maybe you'll find our favorite auction house to buy and sell postcards - or maybe you won't. Go to the site, put in your zip code and how far you're willing to travel and AuctionZip will return a calendar with clickable dates that will show all auctions on each day of the month in your radius. It couldn't be any simpler! You can do a site search just on the term "Postcards" too and find auctions all over the country with cards for sale. Many will allow online or telephone bidding. Too easy!
More Great Cards Available from eBay - Buy in Lots and Save...
Add more cards to your collection for less cost per card when you buy in lots!
Caring for Your Halloween Postcard Collection
Preserve Your Cards for Another 100 Years!
Halloween postcards and, really, all holiday postcards are a rare breed for collectors when it comes to the questions of storage and display. Many Halloween cards are embossed with raised surface designs. Others are mechanical - they have moving parts. Many have foil around the edges or as color within the card design. Many are hand painted. Lots are signed (whether imprinted or actually). All of these things make preserving these cards for posterity both a necessity and, sometimes, a bit of a pain.
You can certainly put these in albums. If you do, we recommend archival paper if you must use a paper album or plastic sleeves with no PVC or other harsh chemicals that can react with card surfaces. If you're going to use an album, remember; Always store cards in albums in a "cool but dry place". It wouldn't do any good to buy the best sleeves money can buy and then store your albums in the attic where the heat will meld card to plastic.
Really, for your valuable vintage Halloween cards - and most of them are valuable - we recommend individual high quality thick plastic protectors with no PVC/harsh chemicals that are then stored in a light proof card box or other container. These you can take out and look at whenever you like without ever damaging the cards. Cards have been known to "slide out" of card pages in albums. Pages have been turned to quickly or gripped incorrectly bending or creasing cards...Enough said!
Postcard Top Loading Protectors
Halloween Postcard Photo Gallery - Not even scratching the surface of great cards...Click thumbnail to view full-size
Halloween Postcards References from Amazon:
We'd love to hear about your collection, or about that prized card or, even, about the one that you're still looking for and you just can't find.