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!

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!

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!

Postcard Advent Calendar, December 19: Here, Kitty, Kitty!


A Merry Xmas to all of my readers, on this the sixth day of the Minor Postcard Advent Calendar. Today’s card is a REAL PHOTOGRAPH, on bromide paper by the Rotographic Company, New York City, copyright 1906.  On the back, thirteen year old Helen Stephenson Minor wrote her four year old brother, Donald Corbley:

How are you and Billy getting along by this time?  Are you coming with Papa when he comes up after me?  Have you been sliding down the hill any this winter? I expect it runs pretty nice doesn’t it?  Bye Bye. ~Helen

Helen attended a boarding school, near the town of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, I believe.  In this note she asks Donald about his pony, Billy, and inquires into the farm’s sledding.  It must have been a white Christmas season for her to anticipate a nice run down the hill.

Like Helen, I LOVE this photocard! The tiny tree looks as if someone topped a cedar or hemlock and decorated it with hand-made paper chains and stars. The candles appear to have been painted on after the photograph was developed!  And I adore the kitten, all snug in its crocheted sweater.  “What ARE you,” she asks the toy horse.  This wheeled toy is represented in many of my cards and must have been a favorite gift of the era.  The basket hung on the tree holds another popular gift:  a trumpet-like instrument.  But take a look at that doll!  What a face! At first glance I thought this was a skeleton wrapped up in fancy attire.  I don’t know what to make of it.  Do you?

Surname Saturday: The Minor Postcard Advent Calendar, December 18: Sneaking Up On Santa!

Night Before Christmas Series No.15

This fifth day of my Postcard Advent Calendar, a project inspired by Minor Family treasures,  I am happy to share this Christmas greeting from seventeen year old Helen Stephenson Minor to her eight year old brother, Donald Corbly.

Dear Brother, How are you enjoying this fine weather?  I was out for a sled ride to-night.  There were nine girls went just had a dandy time.  I suppose I will be home to-morrow.  Well  I got through one examination all O.K. Got an “A” grade in English History.  Well Bye Bye.  ~Helen

Helen was attending a boarding school in a nearby town.  Judging from the postmark, Helen wrote from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, which makes me wonder if she was not attending Waynesburg College or an affiliated high school.  Helen mailed the card December 21, 1910 and would have arrived home in time to celebrate the night before Christmas with young Donald.

This card’s vignette is unusual in its story. A tow- headed young child pauses during his clandestine mission. “Do you see what I see,” he asks us.  The Christmas tree, adorned with beads, crystals, and balls, sheds its candlelight on the Christmas eve scene. Santa Claus is just around the corner and seems to be playing with the white flocked horse! What a racket Santa must be making as he runs the stead’s wheels across the wood floor! How tempting to our young peeper to just grab the drum and join the fun.  But we all know how this night ended–with a scurrying of slippered little feet, back to bed, back to sleep. The publishers information is in some code on the front of the card: a dot in a circle within another circle sits next to an N within a triangle.  Both can be found in the lower right corner of the card.  On the back are the words “Night Before Christmas Series No. 15.”  Any collectors with information?  Please leave a comment!!