Sunday, June 22, 2014

Kindest Regards And Greetings Gay

Merry Christmas; Happy Birthday; Easter Greetings; Be My Valentine; Congratulations On Your Graduation, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. There are many holidays to celebrate and many sentiments to express, and there's a greeting card for every one of them.
And if you have a unique sentiment to express to a loved one (such as "Congratulation for advancing from party-pooper to grumpy-guss"), there's bound to be a blank card on which you can write that personal sentiment. There's even greeting cards shaped and sized specifically in which to hold a monetary bill or personal check (which the receiver hopes is at least a twenty), as if the cash won't fit in a regular card.

And not intending to offend the poorer residents of Planet Earth, I would venture to say to say that nearly everyone alive at this time has probably received at least one greeting card in his or her life. Greeting Cards tend to be ephemeral; they're like wisps of smoke from a fire, appearing to us and then vanishing as quickly as they came. Well the situation with Greeting Cards is not exactly like wisps of smoke. Greeting Cards don't really just vanish into thin air like smoke does. They get stuffed into drawers; they get stacked on shelves; they get pasted into scrap books; and they get bound together, fifty to one hundred perhaps, with a rubber band holding them tightly, and then placed in a box that is pushed into a corner of the attic.
Some recipients cherish and keep the Greeting Cards that brighten their day, while others detest having them invade their personal space, and throw them in the trash as quickly as they can (that is to say, as soon as all of the party guests leave).

I must admit that I am a cherisher of Greeting Cards. The serene, idyllic, snow-blanketed forest-scape that fills the six by eight inch surface of a Christmas card not only fills me with joy when I receive it in the mail on December 22 ~ it also gives me a warm fuzzy feeling on August 14 when I again fall under its spell it while looking for a relative's address on the envelope.
I also must admit that I just made that up to make my point ~ that is, the part about looking for a relative's address "on the envelope", because if the truth be told, I remove all my cards from the envelopes and throw away those disgustingly banal hindrances to my speedy enjoyment of the cards. I have saved most of the Greeting Cards that I have received since I was in my teens. Perhaps in another fifty years they'll seem as quaint and charming as the ones exhibited on this post.

The Greeting Cards which are exhibited on this post date from the 1890s through the 1930s. The predominantly popular art style for that period was Art Deco, and some of the cards are fine examples of that style. The Christmas card shown here which bears a ship sailing through frigid waters and the Birthday card which contains a turreted castle on the hill are examples of Art Deco that one finds in 'readers' and other children's books from the early 1900s.
Many of the cards were manufactured in Germany, and of course although the verses are in English, the style of those cards cannot help but to have been influenced by German culture at the time.

Notice the swastika that appears on one New Year's card; it had nothing to do with the German Third Reich. The card was produced in the year 1908, and the swastika was simply borrowed from the ancient Hindu symbol for peace ~ it actually at one time represented the sentiment of 'well-being', and was derived from the Sanskrit words: su (meaning 'good') and asti (meaning 'being'), combined with the diminutive suffix: ka.
Other cards bear visual symbols popular at the time, which stood for the sentiments of love, friendship and so on. For Christmas cards, the roly-poly figure of Santa Claus, popularized by Thomas Nast in his 1881 poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" was prevalent by the 1920s, but less jovial images of the bringer of gifts still appeared occasionally, as depicted in one card.

And it might not be readily noticeable from the images, but all of the cards shown here consist of a single layer of heavy card stock, printed only on the front side ~ as compared to modern day folded paper cards that are printed on the inside in addition to the front.

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