Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tis the season for Halloween Postcards

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Halloween is just around the corner and it only fitting that we look at a couple of great Halloween postcards. Halloween is the celebration of All Saints' Day or All Hallows' Eve so now you can see when the name came from. The tradition was brought to the America by the Irish who fled Ireland after the great potato famine of the 1840s. Since the holiday is celebrated around fall harvest time, the traditions are built around pumpkins, apples and harvest scenes. The completion of the harvest was a time when the young single folks thoughts turned to a finding a mate or determining if a girl would marry so the postcards often show couples enjoying the holiday. Rings were baked into cakes and girls would go into gardens to look at the beets and cabbages to find a clue to their future mate. Also contributing to the holiday were the immigrants of Scots-Celtic ancestry who brought with them the poems of Robert Burns and a healthy dose of superstition. Burn's poem "Halloween" shows the holiday as a time for sitting around the fire, telling ghost stories, fortune telling, drinking and couples matching up and sneaking off into the night. His "Tam O' Shanter" story is a great Halloween tale complete with witches, the devil and a scary night. These are a couple of reasons Robert Burns is known as the father of Halloween.
Almost 100 publishers, mostly American, but including English and German companies produced more than 3,000 different Halloween postcards. The premier Halloween postcard publisher was John Winsch from Stapleton New York who began producing postcards in 1910 and the 1911 & 1912 copyrighted postcards are among the best sellers. The Halloween postcards by the artist Samuel L Schmucker, who is considered an Art Nouveau artist, are among the most sought after and command high prices ranging from $70 to over $1,000. The following card from my Halloween Postcard web page is an excellent example of a Winsch Halloween postcard done by the artist Samuel Schmucker.

The second illustration from my website is a beautiful young lady in a Halloween costume complete with a mask and Jack-O-Lanterns around the border.

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