When we look back into the past-- particularly around the Victorian era-- we tend to envision stuffed shirts and rigid corsets... lots of black and grim faces.
But during the Golden Age of Postcards, there was a whole genre of communications that were as playfully colorful in tone as they were in design. Witty phrases, sly puns, and bawdy romantic situations arrived in the mail with a wink and a snicker. And the senders themselves added personalized flair to them, with some clever allusions of their own.
Like this bathing beauty postcard from 1913.
The card reads:
"Those bathing costumes make you ladies look awfully short."
"Yes; but they make you men look longer."
Queen Victoria would have been turning over in her grave, I think. Look at those shameless ankles!
And speaking of ankles, the card below has them in triplicate!
"Having an El-leg-ant time in Poke Hollow."
I got a good kick out of the message on the back, from "Maggie."
Oh you Orlo:
How are you since you went to Vinco with Myrtle. I hear something and wondered how you was. We miss both you boys an awful lot, especially at church night. Goodbye.
I don't know if Maggie was a friend, a sister or some other relative, but it's funny to imagine sending this card to Orlo and then chatting about church.
Now here, we have:
A clerical error
If you look carefully in the margins you can see the editorializing the sender did.
"These are some of my family."
On the back, the sender wrote:
Hello May:-Judging from the sense of humor displayed by May's friend, I suspect she would have found this card pretty funny, as well...
How is the weather in the M.T.? It came- yes, the rain
Har Har Get busy and do your duty. Don't talk to the Boys so much HA HA
"Where is the page, Mary?"
"He's helping me to clean up after the plumber."
I see he is!
And it looks like some clothes are going to need some cleaning after this next postcard, too...
"I have a kind of Hay Fever," the card proclaims.
The back reads:
How are you. I received you postal. I will have to tell Moses you have another down there. O you postal cards.
I love how these cards often carried simple well wishes and random thoughts, in the same way we might use Twitter or dash off an email today.
The one above reads:
Have had a lot of hard work lately
Will write soon
The S written into the blank is Sara, who had this to say:
Hello. I had a post card this morning from Walter. He said he left Washington 9am Saturday for Raleigh. Would arrive there at 5pm Ida came out Sunday morning and she said she got 6 postals from him. Sally is mad that she didn't get any to-day. She is saying all kind of Sunday School words. Did you get any from him? If you hear from Walter please leave us know. If you wish come up Sat. eve.Ah, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Six cards? Sounds like Walter is fond of this Ida. I hope Sally eventually got a card from him!
Some humor of the era does seem to be lost to the pages of time. "Chickens"?...
Everybody loves a Chicken
But Three's a Crowd.
The "Three's a Crowd" was handwritten in by the sender, who also seems to have numbered this card as one in a series.
Given it was from Paul to Emil and no other message included, I'm guessing it was a not-so-subtle way for Paul to tell his friend to back off on some young lady they both liked.
I get a laugh from this next one, not only from the comedic imagery...
But from the message written in big, childlike letters on the back:
And this card gives me a smile with the kind of phrasing you just don't hear much nowadays...
Unless you're, possibly, watching a Bogart film...
Kid, you've got some eyes
Lastly, we have one of my favorite cards...
Not only do I love that gorgeous velvet Victorian settee, you can't beat the sentiment.
"Some people spell parlour-
"Yes; but how much better it is with U in it."
Thank U, er, you all for hanging out with me in the parlour today. I agree, it's always wonderful to have U here.
- If you missed getting to see last Wednesday's post on thoughtful gifts from friends, click here to check that out.
And thanks for stopping by, my friends-- it's been a real card!