the most important event in the Christian calendar, was certainly
well represented on Canadian postcards during their Golden Age
As I sifted through the thousands of postcard images scanned
into my computer over the past 10 years or so, I discovered more
than enough examples for this article.
This isn't at all surprising. Most of Canadas population
at the turn of the 20th century was made up of church-going Christians.
Consequently, religious celebrations like Christmas, Easter and
to a lesser extent, St. Patricks Day, were popular themes
Although many of todays Christians lament that Christs
birth, death and resurrection appear to have been supplanted
by Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the secularization of these
events certainly isn't a modern phenomenon.
Most of the pre-First World War Christmas postcards I've
seen show Santa Claus in one scene or another and the majority
of Easter postcards contain bunnies, eggs, chickens and other
This is completely understandable of course. Postcards, like
any other commodity, had to be marketed to the widest possible
audience. Mangers, Last Suppers and crucifixes had and still
have a tough time competing against a sleigh full of presents
and chocolate Easter eggs.
those interested in antique Christmas and Easter postcards with
less secular themes, the cards published during the First World
War tend to be much more religious. No surprise there.
The colourful Easter Bunny and egg postcard shown in Figure
1 was published by Torontos W. G. MacFarlane around
1908. According to a quickie Internet search, the Easter Bunny
is actually a hare.
Hares and eggs were ancient (pagan) fertility symbols associated
with spring and therefore renewal. They became part of Easter
folklore in Europe during the Middle Ages, melding nicely with
the Christian spiritual renewal experienced at Easter.
The timing of Easter, celebrated shortly after the first day
of spring, also helped emphasize the renewal theme.
Figure 2 shows another postcard from the same W. G.
MacFarlane series. In this case, the egg has been converted into
a wagon driven by children, with the Easter Bunny navigating
or perhaps acting as lookout. All the postcards in this series
by the way were printed by Meissner & Buch of Leipzig, Germany.
Meissner & Buch postcards are of very high quality and
usually have a small M.B. printed somewhere on the
front or back. If you come across a modestly-priced card by this
German printer, I recommend you pick it up especially
if it was imported by a Canadian publisher.
case you are wondering, Meissner & Buchs two most important
Canadian importers were W. G. MacFarlane and the McCoy Printing
Co. of Moncton.
In my Stedman Bros. of Brantford folder, there were so many
Easter postcards I had a tough time finding a favourite for this
article. I finally decided to showcase one of the metallic
appliqué postcards from an ever-growing series launched
in the summer of 1909.
I say ever growing because collectors began notifying
me of unlisted items shortly after my Stedman Bros. handbook
hit the streets in September 2011.
The Easter postcard shown in Figure 3 has a family
of chickens with a metallic rooster in the foreground and a large
egg with additional rooster in the background.
I may have explained this in an earlier article, but appliqué
postcards are those with something applied to them,
like fabric, miniature calendars, metal pins etc. They fall into
the novelty postcard category and they have a loyal following
The Figure 4 postcard is from a series of embossed
greeting cards published by Canadas famous Warwick Bros.
the completion of my Stedman Bros. handbook, Warwick Bros. &
Rutter was thought to be Canadas most prolific Golden Age
publisher. I was truly astounded when I realized the estimate
for Stedman Bros. would be around 8,500 different postcards
at least a thousand more cards than were recorded for Warwick
Bros. & Rutter.
Although bumped to the No. 2 position, Warwick Bros. &
Rutter does have the unique distinction of having printed almost
all of its postcards in Toronto. There are no other Canadian
publishers that can claim this much domestic production.
Finally, I was going to showcase an Easter postcard from
the McCoy Printing Co., but the Stedman Bros. appliqué
types proved too hard to resist. The postcard shown in Figure
5 has no caption; just a country scene with Easter flowers
and an appliqué crucifix.
At present, there are 52 different cards in this Stedman
Bros. series and, as stated earlier, the number grows every month
thanks to input from collectors.
I recently saw one of these cards sell for $30 at a show (it
was a scarce design with a metallic zeppelin), most of the cards
in this series are modestly priced at $5 to $10.
Great cards, modestly priced and fun to collect need
I say more?
Figure 1: An Easter Bunny postcard by W. G. MacFarlane
of Toronto. Printed in Germany, this card is part of a 12-card
series released around 1908.
Figure 2: Another Easter postcard from W. G. MacFarlane,
this one is from the same series as the Figure 1 example.
Figure 3: This Stedman Bros. Easter postcard has an
appliqué metallic rooster guarding the coop.
Figure 4: A highly embossed Easter card by Torontos
Warwick Bros. & Rutter. The unusually dark colouring on this
card makes it surprisingly attractive.
Figure 5: A beautiful Easter postcard from Stedman
Bros. with an appliqué crucifix. This is one of the 52
cards currently listed in this popular Stedman Bros. series.
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