US Prohibition Era Comic Postcards Are Very Collectible

I’ve mentioned this before but one of the hardest things about writing postcard articles is coming up with an interesting topic. Since there are so many different subjects portrayed on those little pieces of “winged cardboard,” more often than not I have to contact Wayback Times editor Sandy Neilly for help. This time around though, the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada reminded me of a very collectible group of US Prohibition era (1920–1933) comic postcards. What makes these cards extra special is that they’re all about Canada.

Figure 1. This terrific booze card is one of eight from Series 623 by the Metropolitan Post Card Co. Everett, Mass.The studio awning advertises “Kodaks, Postcards, Stationery.”.

The postcards in question were part of a huge collection of artist-signed cards put together by my postcard buddy Wayne Curtis of Oakville. Curtis, who passed away in 2015, was an expert on Canadian artist-signed postcards but often picked up cards by American artists if there was a Canadian link. And the multiple series of Prohibition era postcards (a.k.a. booze cards) by the Metropolitan Post Card Co. of Everett, Massachusetts certainly had Canadian links. In fact, all the known booze cards published by this company during Prohibition advertise Canada as a tourist Mecca for “thirsty” Americans. The Figure 1 postcard is from the earliest numbered series (Series 623) and states what most of us already know about Canada – it’s “The Best Place in the World.”

Figure 2. Another boozy delight from Metropolitan Post Card Co.’s Series 623.

The Figure 2 postcard is from the same Metropolitan Post Card Co. series and is no less subtle than the Figure 1 example. Here, an American tourist has a siphon hose hooked up to a Canadian brewery and relaxes in complete bliss on the lawn outside the building. The “Now Let Me Die” caption says it all. By the way, most Metropolitan Post Card Co. booze cards are not scarce and can be purchased in the $5 to $10 range (sometimes less) from most dealers. If the company name is not written on the back of a card, the company logo, a coffee cup with an “M” on it, is almost always there.

Figure 3. This gem from Metropolitan Post Card Co. Series 624 shows a new arrival in Canada being tempted by a sultry bottle of booze

The postcard shown as Figure 3 is from Metropolitan Postcard Co. Series 624. This series was published in four groups, which are labelled on the backs as follows: Series 624 Comics 12 Designs, Series 624 Drunks 12 Designs, Series 624 Drunks 18 Designs, and Series 624 Drunks. The last group makes no mention of the number of cards but five have been recorded thus far. Therefore, if we assume it contains at least six cards (most postcard sets/series were published in multiples of six), then there are at least 48 cards to collect in Series 624 (12 + 12 + 18 + 6). In the Figure 3 example, an American tourist “From the Dry Belt” has just arrived in Canada and is being propositioned by a temptress in the form of a booze bottle. His smirk and the “It Won’t Be Long Now” caption need no further explanation.

Figure 4.  This “joyful” Canadian beer card is from a lengthy, unnumbered series by the Metropolitan Post Card Co.

The Figure 4 postcard is from one of the two unnumbered Metropolitan Post Card Co. series where the theme is the joy of Canadian beer. I have to admit I was quite a connoisseur of our distinct brew in my younger days. I even remember the corny slogan on Molson Canadian: “An honest brew makes its own friends.” Well, I don’t think the artist at the Metropolitan Post Card Co. cared whether Canadian beer was “honest” or not. He or she just drew some great cartoons. Note that with Wayne Curtis’s help, I managed to record 22 different beer-related cards in this particular unnumbered series. This means that there are at least another two examples out there somewhere.

Figure 5. American E. L. White drew this wonderful little card for the Metropolitan Post Card Co. It is one of a very few booze cards with the artist identified.

The postcard shown as   Figure 5 is another great Canadian beer card from an unnumbered Metropolitan Post Card Co. series. In addition to the Canadian theme, what makes this card extra special is that the artist’s signature, E. L. White, can be seen on the bottom-right cartoon. It goes without saying that for collectors of artist-signed postcards, an artist’s name somewhere makes a big difference. Note that when I looked up E. L. White in the current edition of The Artist-Signed Postcard Price Guide, I learned that he was mostly known for comic and black Americana postcards. On this side of the border though, his “Canadiana” booze cards make him very collectible.