A Look at Something Rare : Antique and Vintage Paper Things – Thanksgiving and Autumn

Hello! It’s Thanksgiving Day here in Canada, so Happy Day to those who are celebrating.

This post began with a desire to show you some really old postcards that were specifically made to convey Thanksgiving wishes, (albeit for the American Holiday, which falls a month and a half later than ours). Then, it grew to include some other autumn themed pieces from my collection of vintage paper items, which, without a doubt, is my biggest collection, made possible because paper things don’t take up much space.

Vintage and Antique paper pieces are called Ephemera, defined as “any transitory written or printed matters that are not meant to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek ephemeros, meaning “lasting only one day, short-lived”.

The reason I love it so much is because these were not meant to survive this long, so I feel lucky to be able to hold them in my hands. It boggles my mind that these were saved by generations of people, kept in such good condition, to eventually make their way onto ebay and ultimately land in my mailbox.

We’ll begin with the oldest items, which are, in fact, the oldest pieces I have in my collection and perhaps the oldest things I own, period. These are antique postcards which were sent in 1909, 1911 and 1912, so they’re over 110 years old.

These are all illustrated by American Ellen Clapsaddle (1865-1934). Today she is known as having been the most prolific postcard artist of all time. She made cards for all the holidays, with her Halloween ones being particularly popular. (I discussed her in this post for St. Patrick’s Day, where I included a reproduction postcard of her work.)

I’m a terrible sleeper so one of the things I like to do when I’m awake in the middle of the night, is look at vintage postcards on ebay, not because I’m looking to purchase them, but because I really enjoy reading the dates and messages on them. People selling them on ebay include scans of the fronts and backs of the cards, so buyers can see what condition they’re in, therefore, the interesting messages are right there for anyone to read. Sometimes I search and actually find the obituaries of the people who mailed or received them, and I look the addressed up on Google Maps Street View and nose around the neighbourhoods to which they were originally mailed way back when.

↑ The oldest one, mailed in Boston in 1909. ↑

↑ Mailed November 26, 1912 – “Dear Bro & Sister! How are you folks by this time. We are all pretty well. We are having some very nice weather here so far. Hope you will have a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your turkey. Jake”

(I like how he called his brother “bro”) ↑

↑ The card was mailed in the United States, from just outside of St Louis Illinois, to Kansas City Missouri. The address is that of a junkyard today, located right behind this building (image captured from Google Street View) ↑

↑ These historic buildings are located next to the address the postcard was originally sent, so the recipients would have walked right by these places back in the early 1900s. ↑

From there, we skip ahead 40 to 50 years for the rest of these things. These cardstock die cuts are from the 60s to 80s and would originally have been used to decorate grade school classrooms. Some have some creases, numerous pinholes and tape residue on them, giving them character and patina.

Also used by teachers in classrooms were these seals (stickers) made by the Dennison company. They’d stick them on students’ worksheets as a prize for a job well done.

The “Cute Animals” are likely from the 60s and the leaves are newer, made after 1971, (because there are postal codes listed on the maker’s address and those only came into use in Canada after that year).

↑ Complete with all 36 seals! ↑

↑ This came missing all the maple leaves but with most of the other seals intact. ↑

This owl greeting card came from a whole box of assorted cards, that was one of my first purchases ever from ebay, back about 15 years ago. I bought the cards thinking I’d actually send them out to my friends and family, however, I still have them all, so that’s how that plan turned out! I estimate this is from the 60s.

↑ Easiest decorating ever! I just stuck the die cuts, which came with holes in the tops, right onto some nails that were already in the wall. Done! ↑

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians and thank you for taking a look. xo loulou