Santa Claus Postcards
Santa Claus Cards are the Most Collectible Vintage Christmas Postcards!
One of the most enduring images of Christmas in the mind of a child is that of Santa Claus. Santa collectibles are very highly prized by all of those of us who wish we could be that wide eyed kid on Christmas morning just once more.
Worldwide, some of the most collected postcards (after Halloween cards) are Santa Claus postcards dated from the late 1800s into the mid to late 1920s. These cards, which are mostly Victorian in style, give us a glimpse of simple, joyous Christmases long since past. There's no commercialism present at all; just all of the best tidings of the Christmas season.
Join me on a journey into yesteryear to take a look at these most sought after of Santa Claus Christmas collectibles!
A Brief Christmas Postcard History
Before we as a collective nation sent out what are now seemingly obligatory Christmas greeting cards each year, people sent friends and family postcards at just about any opportunity. At a penny to mail, they were an economical form of communication in the days prior to the inventions of the telephone and the automobile (and, certainly, the computer) and they were almost a sure bet to draw a smile from the recipient.
Christmas was the most popular time of the year to send postcards. Images were sometimes simple but, more often, very detailed. Embossed cards were common but highly prized as more expensive and tasteful.
The most common image was, of course, of Old St. Nick himself, Santa Claus. But, Santa took many forms in those days. In general he was not a round, jolly old elf at all, but rather a tall, fairly thin man in flowing robes. And, those robes weren't always red either. Red came much later. Also, he often had a hood, rather than a cap (what we think of as a Santa hat). Some of the most rare and sought after cards show Santa in white, or blue or purple robes. A red clothed Santa was only slightly more common than just about any other color!
Types of Popular Christmas Postcards and... - The Artists Who Created Them...
Given the times, most Christmas postcards originated in England (though they were often printed in Germany) and had a Victorian style that was colorful and richly detailed. Quality, embossed cards were common. Humor cards did exist for Christmas but not to the lengths that humor cards for Halloween produced in the same time span enjoyed.
A little known fact among beginning collectors is that cards were often produced in sets of four. Santa might be in the same clothing but in 4 different scenes or 4 different poses. Many collectors spend years trying to find the elusive last card to complete a set!
Some of the most hunted Christmas/Santa postcards are "Hold To The Light" postcards. These are early 1900s die-cut cards with small holes in the design. When held up to a light source, light would, of course, shine through. The holes were strategically placed to make a Christmas tree appear to glow, an angel to radiate light and so forth. These cards often cost $.30 to .50 cents each, making them cards sent by the wealthier classes. Collectors today pay dearly for them too!
The most popular Christmas postcard artists were:
Francis Brundage (Artist) - (1854-1937) Francis Brundage was 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 including work that involved depictions of Santa Claus. 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 including Halloween and Christmas. She's done many Santa cards and she has, in fact, been credited with more than 3,000 postcard designs.
Kate (Catherine) Greenaway (Artist) - (1846-1901) A Victorian children's writer and illustrator. Kate designed almost exclusively for Marcus Ward. Her designs, while often for children, tended to focus on things other than Santa Claus.
All or Just Santa?
Are you interested in all sorts of Christmas postcards or just Santa Claus cards?
Acquiring Santa Claus Postcards for Your Collection
It's a fact that people keep their Christmas cards from year to year. They're pulled out each year and enjoyed and new cards are addressed to all of those who sent us cards the Christmas prior. Vintage Christmas postcards were kept too. They were put in albums and shared with guests. They were passed down in families. As a result, great Santa Claus cards can be difficult to come by. Finding all four from a set can be next to impossible. Still, we try because we love them so!
Enough discouragement! Where do you get them? First off, we're going to repeat ourselves from another postcard collecting lens we've made, but then we're going to give you some additional ideas to consider:
You can find quality, vintage Santa cards at:
2. Delcampe (.net, not .com)
3. Ruby Lane
4. Live auctions
To find live auctions, we love to use AuctionZip.com. Simply 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. Though more limited, you can also search it for types of merchandise like "postcards".
Now, you'll find good cards in all four of those places. You'll have plenty of competition for the cards you want though. So where do we go?
We've had great luck visiting estate sales in older areas and for known older people and we've also had great luck posting ads in local publications and on Craigslist where we can lay out exactly what we're seeking. On Craigslist, allow customers to email you at first, only. That allows you to eliminate easily all those who have one card they want to sell you for ridiculous money. Remember: you can search Craigslist too! Certainly do it for your local area. If you're adventurous, and you don't mind dealing with sellers all over the country, give AllOfCraigs.com a try to search every Craigslist in the U.S. one time with your keywords.
The local circular style papers cost a little bit for ad placement, but we've found we can run a want ad for a couple of weeks and then pull it because people - even in this day and age - will clip it and save it until they're ready to call. Try it. You'll probably be very surprised.
More Christmas Postcards from eBay
Some people like to collect all of the cards of Christmas. Others like the embossed designs of many Christmas postcards - especially floral ones - to use for scrapbooking and for other crafts. Whatever your pleasure, chances are you can find a nice Christmas postcard lot to suit you on, where else - eBay!
Display Your Vintage Santa Postcards in Style!
*Attractive bonded leather album organizes, displays and protects your postcard collection
*Includes 25 assorted easy-to-use clear plastic pages to hold 150 postcards
*Pages are archival-safe, acid free and PVC-free so your collection will retain its value
*Expanding library spine grows with your collection; refill pages available
*Holds most vintage, modern, continental and oversized postcards
Vintage Santa postcards are beautiful, colorful and full of history. You'll want to show them off but you'll also want to protect them and preserve them for another 80-100 years. This album lets you do both.
Santa Claus Postcard Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Christmas Postcards - Vintage Card Reprints
Maybe you can't lay your hands on any original cards, but you can certainly enjoy sending some reprinted vintage designs along to your family and friends.
Christmas Postcards Paperback
Experience warm wishes and happy remembrances of Christmas through postcards, rural carrier cards, and business trade cards organized chronologically from the 1880s through the 1920s. Over 740 beautiful and charming color images show how Christmas sentiments, card designs, and that right jolly old elf Santa himself changed with the times. The engaging text provides a brief history of postcard production, a discussion of Santa's enduring image, key postcard artists and publishers, and valuations for postcards. This is an essential volume for postcard collectors and all who love the Christmas season.
This book offers a great glimpse at a good chunk of the hey day of the postcard in one area (Christmas) which ran from the 1890s into the 1930s. There have been lots of books written about postcard history and also about cards in general from that period but this is one of the best that focuses on just Christmas cards and it has a heavy focus on Santa Claus postcards.
Do you collect all types of vintage Christmas themed cards or do you focus on Santa cards? Tell us about your Christmas postcard collection!