Halloween Vintage Cards

5 +1 Unique Vintage Halloween Cards: What caught my attention online

I October is here. Here is what caught my attention online this first week of the month. Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, superstition, and magic. And, the chance to dress up and share sweets make it especially attractive!

№ 1 Halloween by Ellen Clapsaddle

Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle (January 8, 1865 – January 7, 1934) was an American illustrator/commercial artist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Not only is her style greatly admired and well recognized, today she is recognized as the most prolific souvenir/postcard and greeting-card artist of her era! Ellen’s Halloween cards are some of the most highly prized by collectors.

Halloween-card-mirror-1904This 1904 postcard depicts a girl trying to see her future husband in the mirror on Halloween night.

She started by giving art lessons in her home. At the same time, Ellen created her own landscapes and was commissioned to paint portraits of families in Richfield Springs. She also submitted her work to publishers in New York City and became a recognized commercial artist. She was a freelance artist and her illustrations were often used in advertising and on porcelain goods, calendars, paper fans, trade and greeting cards.

Clapsaddle’s greatest success was in the development of her artwork into single-faced cards that could be kept as souvenirs or mailed as postcards and she specialized in designing illustrations specifically for that purpose.

Artistic designs had become highly prized, particularly during the peak of production of the “golden age of souvenir/postcards” (1898–1915) for their great marketing possibilities. She is credited with over 3,000 designs in the souvenir/postcard field.


c.1910 by Ellen Clapsaddle

№ 2 Future Husband

Many Halloween rituals focused on the future, instead of the past, and the living, instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married.

c. 1910 This Halloween postcard was published in New York City

№ 3 Let’s Dress Up

On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought they would encounter them if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark, so the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits.

This illustration was attributed to an American natural-history artist and a “prolific writer and illustrator of children’s books on various aspects of animal life,” Wilfrid Swancourt Bronson. He was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended the School of Art Institute of Chicago.

Halloween Art

c. 1910 This Halloween illustration was attributed to Wilfrid S. Bronson

№ 4 Eat More Apples

Kids Bobbing for Apples. The cute children in this colorful image are gathered around a tub, while a boy bobs for red apples. In the background is a table of goodies set for Halloween fun with scary black Jack-o-Lanterns hanging above. Definitely healthier than candies.

Did you know that a quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween?


Vintage illustration 

№ 5 Black Cat

The folklore surrounding black cats varies from culture to culture. The Scots believe that a strange black cat’s arrival to a home signifies prosperity. In Celtic mythology, a fairy known as the Cat Sìth takes the form of a black cat. Black cats are also considered good luck in the rest of Britain and Japan. Furthermore, it is believed that a lady who owns a black cat will have many suitors. In Western history, black cats have often been looked upon as a symbol of evil omens; specifically being suspected of being the familiars of witches, or actually shape-shifting witches themselves.

Black cat

c. 1915 Woman, pumpkin, black cat and a smoking pipe

№ 5 +1  Why Pumpkin?

Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Back then, however, jack-o’-lanterns were made out of turnips or potatoes; it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born.

Halloween Vintage Art

c. 1910 German Halloween postcard

[Wikipedia, Wikimedia, http://mashable.com, www.history.com, http://thegraphicsfairy.com, www.flickriver.com]

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