Thanksgiving Greetings

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 1:22pm -- mfarias

This Thanksgiving weekend, once you’ve had a chance to recover from your feast, we hope you enjoy this round-up of some of our favorite early 20th century Thanksgiving postcards, which were given to the Redwood Library by local bibliophile and former bookstore owner Don Magee. The majority of the cards were sent between 1908 and 1916 and have a turkey sitting front and center, but there are a lot of variations on that theme.

 

 Sent 1909. From the collection of the Redwood Library.


The late-19th and early-20th century saw an explosion of chromolithographic printing, the technique used for mass producing these postcards. Production was centered in Germany at the beginning, but publishers and job printers quickly adopted the technique in the United States. Chromolithographed advertising booklets, cigarette cards and, especially, postcards were a vivid and cheap way to bring color into the home and to commemorate visits or celebrate holidays.

 

Top sent 1908, bottom sent 1911. From the collection of the Redwood Library.


Reverse of the two cards above. From the collection of the Redwood Library.


Interestingly, a number of the cards included here were printed in Saxony, Germany even though they were marketed towards an American audience. This is obvious not just because Thanksgiving is primarily an American holiday, but also because some of them have blatant patriotic symbols. Below is a card printed in Saxony with an image of the American flag represented among the food at the bottom of the card. Other cards with patriotic messages were also produced in the United States; the one below was printed in Elmira, New York.

 

Sent 1911. From the collection of the Redwood Library.


Sent 1919. From the collection of the Redwood Library.


The turkey is obviously the most commonly recurring image on these Thanksgiving cards. Shown fighting over a wishbone, eating corn, or proudly strutting, the turkey is a recognizable figure. Several of the cards play with the knowledge of what is about to happen to the turkey, like in the example below, where a young boy with an axe contemplates the turkey beside him..

 

Both undated. From the collection of the Redwood Library.


Sent 1910. From the collection of the Redwood Library.


Sent 1930. From the collection of the Redwood Library.


Sent 1908. From the collection of the Redwood Library.

 

Each card has a small saying wishing either luck, happiness, friendship, peace, and a happy Thanksgiving. So, from all of us at the Redwood, we wish you all the same. Happy Thanksgiving!


Sent 1913. From the collection of the Redwood Library.