Advent Calendar Family Lore Minor Random Thoughts Surnames

Postcard Advent Calendar, December 24: Sing A Song for Christmas!

Copyright 1906, P Sander N.Y.

A Merry Christmas on this eleventh day of my Minor Postcard Advent Calendar!  I am so pleased to find among my collection a fine example of a glittered embossed postcard by P. Sander Company.  Oh, how I wish I knew the ins and outs of scanning to capture three dimensions, for the publishers of this era worked hard to enhance their cards, simply and cheaply, with embossing–raised areas of the painting that create depth! In this 1906 card the red-breasted songsters are heavily embossed atop a snow-covered fence that is less heavily embossed, quickly drawing your eye to the artist’s main subject.  The holly and snow are not only embossed but glittered, giving the impression that the sun may be peaking out between snow bearing clouds.  In the silver embossed background, a riverside town sits in the muffled, snowy silence.  Such a beautiful card! A hand delivered Merry Christmas to four year old Donald Minor from May M.


Advent Calendar Family Lore Minor Surnames

Postcard Advent Calendar, December 23: The Blue Boy’s Best Christmas Wishes

On this tenth day of the Postcard Advent Calendar I share a card sent by Helen Stephenson Minor to her 7 year old brother, Donald Corbly Minor. At first glance I was struck by the resemblance of the child to Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of  The Blue Boy, 1770. Note the similarities in the Victorian illustration and the Gainsborough painting;  in each a boy is depicted wearing a blue suit, edged with lace, and paired with white stockings and knickers.  A hat is festooned with feathers and the shoes tied with ribbons.  The object of each child’s concentration differs, but the position of the legs is identical.The costume predates The Blue Boy by about 130 years, leading many art experts to wonder if Gainsborough created this painting as a tribute to the great master painter Van Dyke.

Did this Victorian postcard artist pay homage to Gainsborough or Van Dyke?  Whether Helen appreciated the resemblance or not, she sent the blue boy postcard from her school in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania on December 13, 1910:

How are you getting along at school by this time?  I am just ready to go to class. What do you want for Xmas?  Tell mamma and papa I will write a letter soon.  Have you had Billy hitched to the sleigh yet and how does he go?  How much vacation do you have Christmas?  Is there anything going on down there Xmas.  With love to all from Helen.

Ditto, Helen.  With love to all–Best Christmas Wishes!

Advent Calendar Family Lore

Postcard Advent Calendar, December 22: My Fair Lady Wishes You A Happy Christmas!

Sent with no message, December 22, 1909

This fair lady sends greetings for a Happy Christmas on this ninth day of my Minor Postcard Advent Calendar.  Seven year old Donald C. Minor received this card at Christmastime 1909, and though the painting is not signed, I believe it to be another Ellen H. Clapsaddle card.  Why?

  1. An embossed frame of gold holds the portrait of a sweet young lady, hair swept stylishly up and under a hat bedecked with fresh roses.  A ruffled collar frames a face full of youthful innocence.  Such a joyful illustration of Victorian youth is characteristic of Ellen H. Clapsaddle’s work.
  2. Turning the card over, I discovered this:
  3. The International Art Publishing Company was established in 1895, merging companies formerly run by Messrs. Wolf and Samuel Garre.  Their most prolific artist was Ellen H. Clapsaddle, as I discovered while researching Skating to Greet YOU!, a card also printed in 1909.

Until a collector convinces me otherwise, I stand on my judgement: My Fair Lady is a Clapsaddle original.  Happy Christmas!

Advent Calendar Family Lore

Postcard Advent Calendar, December 21: Skating To Greet YOU!


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ~Aunt Sarah

On December 24, 1909 my grandfather, Donald C. Minor, received this gorgeous card, the seventh in my Postcard Advent Calendar.  The background is a cardinal crimson, not fully captured by a scan. A young courier, dressed all in white, flies across the gold-colored ice, to his deliver his holiday wishes. Embossed details transform white lumps into fluffy mounds of snow and give the pond an authentic uneven surface.  Publishing information is printed in the snowy bank: Painting only is copyrighted by S. Garre 1909. I turned the card over and found the “Printed in Germany” stamp.  My research throughout this project has confirmed my gathering suspicion–most penny postcards were printed in Germany until the First World War. So it is not unusual to find yet another of Donald Minor’s cards to be of German origin.  Yet, this card is different from my other German cards.  The colors. The details. The child’s concentration.  This card is special.

AS I stood by the window the bright winter’s light revealed more and more detail.  There! A signature.  Yes, indeed.  With magnifying glass in hand I peered more intently than ever at the pond’s surface and made out the neat cursive script: Ellen H. Clapsaddle.  This is a CLAPSADDLE CARD!  Born in 1866 New York, Ellen Clapsaddle had been trained as an artist and was one of the few women who actually found a commercial outlet for her talent. Hired by the Wolf Brothers, a subsidiary of International Art Publishing Company, Ms. Clapsaddle had been a prolific postcard artist, with over 3000 designs patented in her name.  These facts I had gleaned from several websites giving biographies and histories of the postcard industry.  But the Wolf name doesn’t appear on this card.  Hmmm. Intrigued I went into research mode, and googled S. Garre Wolf Brothers International Art Company. In 0.43 seconds I had an astounding clue from the December 28, 1895 edition of  Publisher’s Weekly, Volume 48, p. 1245.

Wolf & Co., of Philadelphia, and Samuel Garre, the manager of the Art Lithographic Publishing Company, have organized the International Art Publishing Company, Limited, and this new company will open up for business in the new building at Nos. 3 and 5 Waverley Place, two doors from Broadway, New York, on January 1. This company will take over the Christmas card and souvenir business of Wolf & Co. and of the Art Lithographic Publishing Company, and besides these will have a number of other lines. Mr. Garre will have the management of the new company.

The business associations seem clear; and the story told on abundant websites remains grounded in facts, though their details may not reveal the whole story accurately.  It does seem likely that Ellen Clapsaddle was discovered by the Wolf Brothers and then hired under the International Art Publishing Company to design postcards.  This card suggests that the patent for this design is in IAPC partner Samuel Garre’s name rather than Ms. Clapsaddle’s. Thus it offers confirmation that the artist was still in the employment of the International Art Publishing Company in 1909.  I, for one, am glad that these gentlemen provided opportunities for Ellen Clapsaddle to share her talent, still skating across the decades to wish us all a Merry Christmas!

Advent Calendar Family Lore

Postcard Advent Calendar, December 20: Christmas Greetings from Ralph

S.T. and Company, No. 841, Printed in Saxony

Bluebirds perch on a sprig of holly to send their Christmas greetings in this seventh card of my Minor Postcard Advent Calendar. Floating in the sky with our passerine friends are other symbols of the season–a golden horseshoe and sprigs of mistletoe and holly.  You could cover a lot of bases with this card, sending good tidings for  Christmas AND good luck for the New Year!  The publisher’s symbol appears on the back:  a winged ball containing the letters S.T. and Co.  In addition, it is noted that the card is No. 841 and printed in Saxony.

My grandfather, Donald Corbly Minor, received this card from his friend, Ralph of South Connellsville, Pennyslvania, December 20, 1910.  Young Ralph, in a confident cursive, wrote:

Hello Donal How are you what do you want Santa to bring you I want a gun but mama says I can not have it so I will haft to take what ever I get.  Your friend Ralph.

Poor Ralph.  The year before he wanted skates, but his mama was afraid to let him have those, too!