Thanksgiving postcards, U.S. and Canada,
a colourful choice
By Mike Smith
With the exception of Halloween postcards and certain Christmas
postcards portraying Santa Claus, greeting-type postcards are
often overlooked by antique postcard collectors.
Postcards proclaiming birthdays, Easter, Christmas, Valentines
Day etc. can sit for years in dealer boxes even though their
excellent designs and brilliant colours make them wonderful collectibles.
Ironically, some of the best postcard printers in the world
learned their craft by printing greeting cards and other fancy
stationery in the days before the birth of the private postcard.
The Toronto Lithographing Company and Englands Raphael
Tuck & Sons were two such printers renowned for the quality
of their greeting cards well before they got into the postcard
When it comes to Thanksgiving postcards, there's no doubt
that American publishers ruled the roost, at least in terms of
the number of different designs. This makes perfect sense of
course when you think of the size of the American market and
how important the Thanksgiving holiday is to Americans.
Thus in this article, the first two of the five cards I'm
going to showcase were published in the good ol USA.
postcard shown in Figure 1 is from a beautiful series
published by the International Art Publishing Co., New York.
Although the maple leaf motif was no doubt meant for the New
England market, there's no country mentioned on the front so
the card fits quite nicely in my Canadian patriotic postcard
In fact, every one of the 20 cards I have recorded from this
particular International Art Publishing Co. series has one or
more fall-coloured maple leaves. The net result was that I shamelessly
Canadianized the lot of them and put the series in
my Canadian patriotic postcard handbook in 2003.
By the way, this card and six others from the series show
Ellen H. Clapsaddles signature in gold script. For those
who collect artist-signed postcards, a signature from this popular
American artist adds another level of collectability.
The Figure 2
postcard is another American-made Thanksgiving gem I hijacked
for my patriotic handbook. And how could I not? The focal point
is a beautifully embossed, brilliant-red maple leaf.
Would American collectors not react in a similar fashion
if Canadian-made cards were emblazoned with the great bald eagle?
All kidding aside, I would have collected this postcard with
or without the maple leaf because the quality is spectacular.
I wasn't surprised when I saw the inscription at the bottom
Design Copyrighted John Winsch, 1912. John
Winsch Co., N.Y. postcards, like those printed by Britains
Raphael Tuck & Sons, are in a class by themselves and are
very popular with collectors.
For those with Internet access, type John Winsch postcards
in any search engine and you will see what I mean. Winsch postcards
are among the best anywhere.
The postcard shown in Figure
3 was published by Englands Rotary Photographic Co.
Ltd. and has the classic Rotary Photo look
a glossy finish with a real photo as the centerpiece of the design.
This particular card is from a set of three Thanksgiving
postcards published for the Canadian market. The design is a
hodgepodge of patriotic symbols with two main images a
larger view in a gear-shaped frame, and a smaller view of an
Interest for this particular set has grown over the past
few years since it is now thought the country views, which unlike
the turkey image are different on each card, were taken by renowned
Goderich, Ontario photographer Reuben R. Sallows.
That said, if you come up to Goderich for a swim this summer,
I highly recommend a visit to the Reuben R. Sallows Gallery in
the Goderich Public Library. Note that many of Sallows
wonderful photographs of Canadian farm life are turning up on
British-made Golden Age (19001914) postcards.
The Figure 4
postcard is from a large and growing series of novelty greeting
cards by Stedman Bros. Ltd. of Brantford, Ontario with metallic
images fastened to them.
When I published my Stedman Bros. postcard handbook last
year, I had recorded 31 of these metallic appliqué
cards. Today, thanks to input from readers of my book, I am aware
of at least twice that amount.
Made in Germany for Stedman Bros. from 19061914, these
cards are fun to collect and the designs that turn up keep getting
better and better.
Note that a similar type of novelty postcard was also published
by W. G. MacFarlane of Toronto, who also had most of his cards
made in Germany. The key difference in the MacFarlane cards is
the metallic images have a bent pin fastener at the
back that allows them to be removed from the card and reused.
Whether or not the same German manufacturer was involved is still
postcard shown in Figure 5 is from an 82-card series published
by renowned Toronto publisher Warwick Bros. & Rutter. Without
the caption, this pretty little card could have been used for
any festive occasion as the food items are hardly symbolic of
Thanksgiving grapes, wine, lobster and a goose?
It sounds more like a feast at a Nova Scotia ceilidh than
a Thanksgiving dinner. Regardless, this and the other greeting
cards in the Warwick series are highly embossed, very colourful
and sure look great in an album.
Note that until my Stedman Bros. research, I touted Warwick
Bros. & Rutter as Canadas most prolific Golden Age
postcard publisher. With over 7,300 different cards recorded,
I reckoned there wasn't another Canadian publisher that could
touch the Toronto behemoth.
Boy was I surprised when, with the help of the Kitchener
Waterloo Cambridge Regional Post Card Club, I started to record
Stedman Bros. postcards. The Brantford wholesaler and retailer,
which at one time had more department stores in Canada than any
other merchant, published at least 8,000 different cards. For
collectors, thats something to be thankful for.
Figure 1 - With the exception of Halloween postcards
and certain Christmas postcards portraying Santa Claus, greeting-type
postcards are often overlooked by antique postcard collectors.
Figure 2 - This high-quality Thanksgiving postcard
was published by the John Winsch Co., New York. Like the Figure
1 postcard, the bright red maple leaf gives it a Canadian flavour
Figure 3 - Although this British-made Thanksgiving
postcard has a hodgepodge design, the Reuben R. Sallows
photo makes it quite desirable.
Figure 4 - This Stedman Bros. Thanksgiving postcard
is known as an appliqué postcard because of
the applied metallic turkey.
Figure 5 - A very colourful and highly embossed Thanksgiving
postcard from Torontos renowned Warwick Bros. & Rutte
Michael J. (Mike) Smith is an RMC graduate (Class of '77)
and ex-naval officer who has been an avid collector of Canadiana
for most of his life. His current passion is collecting and writing
about Canadian antique postcards. He is currently working on
his eighth postcard handbook. Visit postcard-directory.com/mikesmithbooks