Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Postcard Collecting And Postcard Artists

Often I hear novice postcard collectors tell me that they collect Tuck.  These postcards are published by Ralph Tuck and Sons in the late 1800s until somewhere around 1920.   I have wrote in other postings about specializing postcard collections by type, subject, publisher, or some other interest and collecting Tuck postcards is a wonderful means to specialize. 
A collection that has a specific theme should allow the collector to become an expert in that area but unfortunately often I have found that people simply believe that because it is a Tuck it has significant monitary value.  There are many factors that will influence the monetary value of a postcard, including those published by Tuck: condition, rarity, subject matter, the colors used, and the artist play a huge role in what the value of these postcards can be. 
Condition would be a consideration with this Vintage Tuck Card (I still like it though)

A wonderful example of how much one little element can change a value of a postcard is the Tuck Christmas series.  An early Tuck Christmas postcard depicting a Santa in a green suit (all other factors aside) will have a monetary value significantly higher than those that have Santas wearing the traditional red suit.  So in short collecting a specific publisher is an excellent choice but understanding the differences within that publisher's work will be important. 
Some Tuck postcards will have a signature of the artist on the front of the postcard.  Signatures are not common for postcards no matter how amazing the artwork is.  Artists were a key to the picture postcards but many either didn't see them as something that would take off with the public and would fizzle out or they didn't see the postcard as important art.  For many reasons artists had found it not important to sign their postcard art but a hundred or more years later many of us postcard enthusiasts would like to argue with that.
There are several postcards that do have artist signature or their logo so you would be able to build a rather nice collection around this theme.  You could choose cards from specific artists only or collect cards that have the artist's actual signature.  I have included a link to a wonderful site that will help with finding artist names since there are too many for me to list in this posting.
Sometimes an artist's signature is very easily recognizable but others you will literally need a jewelers glass to figure it out who it is and even then it may be too hard to distinguish.  One of the easiest means to find specific artists is to look for those that had developed their own logo.  Many are very eye catching and easy to spot.  There are times that the publisher will also give credit to the artist printing their name somewhere on the card.  The actual artist signature, of course, is the most desirable to collectors.

This signature is one that I was not able to read even with a jeweler's glass
Cards that have a copyright date along with a name can be easily misidentified.  This may be the artists name but unless you are familiar with the artist you will need to research it.  Publishing companies and printers who did not actual create the art may have put their logo or name there instead.  I have example of a card done by the artist Max Feinberg that has his name right next to the 1911 copyright.

This one has Feinberg's name next to the copyright so you
 know who the artist is  but it doesn't have his signature

I have some examples of Colby postcards from the early 1900s.  As you will see these cards have a distinct artist style but also a beautiful unmistakable logo and signature

One artist that has caused quite a stir was Donald McGill a British artist who is known for creating controversial (for the time period) postcards.  He would often create postcards that poked fun of the British government which did not gain him favor and he also liked comic caricature of people in scandalous situations or poses.  His cards were named Seaside cards because the subjects were often saucy seaside images.  I have examples of this artist along with others that have similar risqué artistry.  Although controversial in his period, many people collected McGill cards, which make them easier to find now.  He was a very clever artist at times.
This one is an example of his political cartoons
Walt Munson (as you will see) also liked to create those "saucy" cards.

This is a Spanish artist that I am not familiar with but it is signed just the same.  I do not speak or read Spanish so that doesn't help but in the postcard collecting world it would be necessary to pick up many languages if you wanted to be able to read them.  Fortunately for us Google has a wonderful feature to translate languages.  While this will not help with names it certainly help you figure out the origins of your card and often what the verse or caption says.   You go to Google and right alongside the search box there is a language tool.  Then type in the letters as you see them on the postcard.  Sometimes I have had to try several different languages because I am not sure exactly which one I am looking for but when I click on one that translates it to English I know that is it.  I don't think they could have made it simpler for us.  Of course it is not perfect but I find it to be an extremely useful tool.

One of my favorite postcards that has a known artist is listed at PostcardsInTheAttic on ETSY.  I love this card because I find it to be so beautiful and picturesque.  James Walter Gozzard was born in the late 1800's and was known for painting village scenes and his fine art.  Fortunately for us he also made some of his art into postcards.  This specific card has his name at the bottom as J.W. Gozzard but it is not actually signed.

I am not an expert on postcards but I enjoy sharing some of things I learn.  I rely heavily on researching my cards using books and internet sites.  Most often when I am listing a postcard for sale I learn something new because I won't recognize the artist or publisher and have to do some searching for information.  Hopefully this link and the others will make this process a little easier for you.


CremeMagnolia said...

I love your articles on collecting. Makes me want to learn more and want to collect P.C's. Thanks.

Paige @ Little Nostalgia said...

I don't collect postcards, but I do collect vintage jewelry and you're right about condition coming into play. Some people think that just because they have a signed piece, it's automatically worth a ton of money... even if it's missing stones and falling apart. Ha ha.

You have a nice collection!

Dana said...

Beautiful. I love postcards. i make it a goal to send them out everywhere I visit to friends and buy some for myself. Vintage ones are of course so much more interesting to look at. :)


Lulu Grey said...

What an interesting post. I have a small collection of post cards, mainly turn of the century European ones. I love used ones, with little notes on the back. I know those are worth less, but they are so sweet.

Korrina Robinson said...

That was really interesting. I don't collect postcards but I love to "collect" information. I love the history of people and art is a great way to find out about people. Thanks for sharing! BTW, found you on Etsy Blog Team