Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vintage Greetings Cards and Small Designs

Fantasy flowers in watercolour
A pen and ink design I did some time ago but which I really like

This is a greeting card design with watercolour and digital colour

A very stylised sun design with spiral overload

Pen and Ink mermaid with digital colours
The bright little piggy really can fly
Pen and Ink stylised heron and decorative tree
The following are a selection of vintage greetings cards from my collection. Click on the cards if you would like to see them in large format.

This was my most expensive card. It has flowers painted in watercolours on the front and extensively inside the card. This must have taken someone a long time to create.

Violets are a very popular theme for vintage cards. These are all handpainted with watercolours.

These cards are all handpainted. The two bottom ones look as if they been made at home.











I don't collect many things but one collection I have been adding to over the years is my collection of vintage greetings cards. I started it about fifteen years ago and it has grown quite large now. At one time they were very cheap to obtain but prices have gone up these days but I think they are still worth it. My oldest card is dated 1884 and I have quite a few others of the late 1800s but the majority are early 1900 and some are around about the time of the second world war. It is possible for an expert to tell the age of a card by the style but I prefer to have the date inside - much easier. It is lovely to find cards which have the magic date but the majority are just signed. I must admit I never write the date in Christmas cards and birthday cards that I send.


The recipients of most of these cards seem to have mounted them in scrap books and therefore, when you buy them, most have the remains of glue on the back. I have seen entire scrapbooks full of these cards for sale on Ebay and in antique shops. I have even bought them at car boot sales.


My favourites are the hand painted ones, and surprisingly most of them are commercially produced and are not handmade at home. I can just imagine rows of ladies (it has to be ladies) sitting at benches and painting the designs in watercolour. I suppose in a way we have come full circle these days with the enormous interest in handmade greetings cards.


I have a few with distinctly art nouveau designs and some with images which became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. One very interesting one shows an image of a swastika and the card says "good luck". Quite a surprise really until I found out that the swastika image was in use in ancient times. It was hijacked by the Nazi's in the late 1930s and its original meaning was forgotten. This is obviously a card dated prior to the 1930s.

I hope you enjoy having a look at my collection. This is only a very small selection and I am always keeping my eye open for new (old) cards. I love to look through them every so often and read the notations and imagine the senders carefully penning their names. The cards come up quite large if you click on them.


I have been drawing and painting quite a few small designs this week which I hope you like. I was digitally colouring one of my large cockerel drawings and enjoying it immensely when the computer died on me and I lost a good half of what I had done. The moral of the tale is save, save, save your artwork in case the compu

12 comments:

A bird in the hand said...

You have a fabulous collection of vintage cards, Cathy. I love your drawings too. And you're right about the swastika; it's too bad such an ancient (and positive) symbol was spoiled.

Cathy said...

Thanks Colette. I always enjoy looking through my cards. I will have to have a hunt and see if I can find any more to add to the collection.

It is a pity about the swastika but it can never be altered now. It is too ingrained in peoples' minds as a Nazi symbol.

Helen said...

What a collection! I have a small collection of vintage cards only because my parents saved them.
They had one card that traveled back and forth every holiday between them and their best friends. Each time it was sent, it was signed and dated. That went on for over 25 years so the card is written all over.

Cathy said...

Thanks Helen. What a wonderful idea to have a card going back and forward for 25 years. I bet they were running out of space by then...lol.

Wende said...

I adore your small designs. The detail is very compelling....


I know what you mean about eh swastika. We have a very old piece of Tibetan sculpture that has a reversed swastika carved into the base. Raises a few eyebrows, until I explain.

Walk in the Woods said...

Wonderful work and what a delight to share such personal history with us all. Thank you for that!

Cathy said...

Thanks very much Wende. Glad you like the designs. I really enjoy doing them. I had another look at the swastika after reading your comment and I think mine is reversed too. Perhaps the Nazis purposely altered the direction.

Cathy said...

Thanks very much Walk In The Woods. Love your name btw and your great blog too.

old world primitives said...

Wonderful work from you, as always. :) The black and white pen and ink drawings are my favorites. You also have a gorgeous collection of vintage cards!

Cathy said...

Many thanks Stephanie.

jenscloset said...

I've always loved old greeting cards too! I just acquired a great collection!

Cathy said...

Thanks Jen. They are lovely to collect. I will have to see if I can find some more.