It made perfect sense that I was asked to contribute a Halloween-themed
postcard article for this, the WTs September/October issue.
After all, when it comes to symbolizing the fall season,
jack-o-lanterns are right up there with turkeys, horns
of plenty and chlorophyll-drained maple leaves.
However, although I have oodles of cards with maple leaves
(this comes with being a Canadian patriotic postcard collector),
I am in woefully short supply of Halloween postcards.
So, as a compromise, I'm going to present a bit of a mixed
bag in this article, but all the cards will certainly be fall-themed.
For those who collect Canadian WWI (19141918) postcards,
the card shown in Figure 1 is both a delight and a letdown.
The fact that it mentions the 166th Battalion of the Queens
Own Rifles (Q.O.R.) of Toronto makes it a good fit in any WWI
collection. The letdown, if you could call it that, is the military
reference was a marketing afterthought.
This is an American-made, fall-themed postcard that was overprinted
with a Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) reference to boost
sales in Canada. I have dozens of cards like this one, which
were given new lives by adding some cleverly-constructed text.
Although they are very collectible, purists often prefer cards
made specifically to highlight the war effort.
Figure 2 postcard, with its large reddish-gold maple leaf,
is from a terrific series of cards printed by Torontos
Atkinson Brothers. Atkinson Bros. was one of Canadas most
prolific publishers of early patriotic postcards (e.g., cards
with flags, crests and maple leaves) and are thus very desirable.
I say early because many of the Atkinson Bros.
cards were in circulation before the divided-back
era, which began in 1904. (As stated in previous articles, from
1904 onward both a message and an address could be written on
the stamp side of a postcard. Before then, only the address was
Thus, it is quite common to have Atkinson Bros. cards in
ones collection with the stamps cancelled in 1902 and 1903.
The card shown is from a lengthy series appropriately titled:
From the Land of the Maple.
postcard shown in Figure 3 was published by Montreals
J. T. Henderson, another publisher who issued some classic cards
prior to 1904. The card is from a sports series in circulation
around 1903 and is a really tough group to put together. I only
know one collector who has them all, and it took
him decades to accumulate them.
Note that I have put all in quotation marks because
only seven cards from this series have been recorded. And since
most Golden Age (19001914) publishers issued series with
even numbers of cards, Im pretty sure theres a least
one more card to be discovered.
For the record, the captions on the six other cards recorded
in the series are: Course En Raquettes, Skating, Snow Shoeing,
Snow Shoeing On the Run, Tobogganing, and Traine
Sauvage. Whether or not there are English equivalents to the
French-captioned cards and vice versa, is unknown.
Theres one other interesting tidbit about this Henderson
series. If you look closely at the bottom right corner of any
of the cards, you'll see a tiny inscription that says Toronto
Lithographing Co. Toronto Litho, as it is known to collectors,
was an iconic Golden Age publisher who printed postcards, maps,
calendars, greeting cards and other fancy paper goods. For J.
T. Henderson to contract Toronto Litho to print its sports series
postcards is no surprise.
Figure 4 postcard made this article because of the brilliantly
coloured, autumn maple leaf on the back. In fact, the back of
the card is arguably more appealing than the front, which has
a black and white image of champion canoeists Blackburn &
Although an Internet search of Blackburn & McNichol didn't
pan out, I did learn that Walter Dean Canoes & Boats, the
publisher of the card, was in business in Toronto until 1923.
The Internet article also stated that Walter Dean created
two famous canoes in Toronto: the Sunnyside Cruiser, which you
can see in the postcard image, and the Klondyke Sectional canoe.
All Walter Dean advertising cards are very collectible and at
least nine different types were issued at the Canadian National
Exhibition (CNE) from 1905 through 1908.
I couldn't put together article on fall-themed postcards without
including the pretty little item in Figure 5. This card
was published by the International Art Publishing Co. of New
York and its harvest scene was drawn by American artist/illustrator
Ellen Clapsaddle. Clapsaddle, by the way, is a highly-collected
artist, especially south of the border.
According to Wikipedia: Not only is her style greatly
admired and well recognized, today she is recognized as the most
prolific souvenir/postcard and greeting card artist of her era.
Halloween postcards with her signature are particularly sought
after and fetch some pretty impressive prices at shows and auctions.
Even on this side of the border I've seen Clapsaddle Halloween
cards with $50 price tags.
Fortunately, for me, I became a Clapsaddle fan because so
much of her postcard art contains maple leaves. Thus, for Canadian
collectors at least, they are patriotic. If her jack-o-lanterns
had maple leaves on them I'd be in the poorhouse.
Figure 1 This pumpkin postcard was
overprinted by a U.S. publisher to boost sales in WWI-era Canada.
Printed by Atkinson Bros. of Toronto for Immanuel Wurster
of Preston, Ontario, the image is of Prestons Hurlbut Shoe
Two lacrosse players stand on a fall-coloured maple leaf
in this scarce postcard published by Montreals J. T. Henderson.
The printer was the Toronto Lithographing Co.
The back of a Walter Dean Canoes & Boats card issued
free at the 1908 Canadian National Exhibition
A Harvest Greetings postcard by popular American artist Ellen
Clapsaddle. Clapsaddles cards, especially the Halloween
types, are very popular in the U.S.
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