Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Artist - Ellen Calpsaddle


Love's Fond Message ~ St. Valentine's Greeting.

6 7/8" x 6 3/8"
circa 1900s - 1910s 
 Standing Fold-Out

Figure in purple dress is also seen on the postcard shown below:


A Greeting of Love.


5 1/2" x 3 1/2"
circa 1900s - 1910s 
 Postcard

International Art Publishing Co
marked: Series No. 945

Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle was born to Dean L. and Harriet Beckwith Clapsaddle during the American Civil War on January 8, 1865 (although some sources state the year as 1863). Her family was well-to-do enough that she completed secondary school at Richfield Springs Seminary in Richfield Springs New York at a time when most Americans' education ended by 8th grade. She went on to study art at New York City's Cooper Institute in the early 1880s (roughly from 1882 - 1884). After this, she returned to her birthplace of South Columbia, NY, where she gave art lessons, painted commissioned work and began free-lancing, with her art soon adorning all sorts of sundries from calendars to decorated china.


 Cupid's Token of Love.

6 5/8" x 10 3/4"
dated 1915
 Flat with Easel Stand
This clown can be found on a variety of cards from the 1910s including postcards and has also been reproduced fairly extensively making appearances on fabric blocks, wooden displays and a variety of decorative items.

By 1898 she was in the employ of International Art Publishing Co. It is for them that many of her most sought after postcards were created. Like  Frances Brundage, key to identifying her work on die-cut greeting cards is knowing her signed work on postcards. Many of the characters, or variations of them, and even some of the complete scenes portrayed on postcards appear again and again on the die-cuts used in standing fold-outs, dimensional pull-downs, or enjoyed just on their own. There are somewhere over 3000 known different signed postcards by Clapsaddle.


To the One I Love ~ Accept this humble gift of mine, And take me for your Valentine.

3 1/2" x 5 1/2"
dated 1924
 Postcard

Signed by Ellen Clapsaddle
with Wolf logo
marked: 252
made in USA

Soon after the turn of the century (anywhere from 1906 to around 1917 depending on which source you believe) Clapsaddle moved to New York City and began a close (or closer may be more accurate) association with Wolf Publishing Co. While she was not their only designer, she was their most prolific by far and may have been the only designer they employed during some (many?) of the years she worked for them. 


My Thoughts Are of Thee.

9 1/4" x 4 1/4"
circa 1900s, 1910s
 Flat with Easel Stand

by Ellen Clapsaddle
no publisher's marks

Wolf had been founded in Philadelphia, PA by brothers Edward, Isaac, and Gustave Wolf back in 1879. Along with the Art Lithographic Publishing Co headed by Samuel Garre, they formed the International Art Publishing Co to handle all of their postcard work beginning in January of 1896. This was the company, a subsidiary of Wolf, that Clapsaddle had worked for beginning just a few years after its creation. Reading some versions of the life and artwork of Clapsaddle can be a bit confusing because this relationship between International Art Publishing Co and Wolf and Co is not made clear. Some accounts seem to imply that Clapsaddle was a founder of Wolf, with Wolf coming into existence in the 20th century, which is not correct. Clapsaddle may have come to own a financial interest in Wolf, but this was a company already in existence prior to her involvement.


To the One I Love ~ I love you, little Sweetheart mine, And want you for my Valentine.

3 1/4" x 4 3/4"
circa 1920s
 Flat

attributed to Ellen Clapsaddle
marked: 458
made in USA
Likely a Wolf Card

At some point she moved to Germany where the printing for the postcard and greeting card industry was done at the time. There are many stories of her being stranded in Germany during WWI and rescued from there, destitute and possibly emotionally devastated, by one of the Wolf brothers (which brother is not specified in any of the accounts I've read). Given that there are plausible claims of her work for Wolf continuing well into the 1920s (therefore Clapsaddle would have been well enough to continue working) and that it is in these accounts of the stranding in Germany that I find the confusion of information regarding Wolf and Co/International Art Publishing and their relationship with Clapsaddle as mentioned above, I suspect this may be an apocryphal tale. It is an awfully compelling story and it may very well be true in at least part, but there seems to be a lack of any real supporting evidence of the tale's veracity. This and the lack of details in all the accounts of this rescue make it somewhat suspect. Granted, wartime circumstances could explain the lack of "proof," but the swirl of misinformation around the publishing companies does leave one unsure and it is clear that Clapsaddle was working actively well into the 1920s. At minimum, the devastation of Clapsaddle at the end of the war seems likely exaggerated. 


Be My Valentine ~ Though clouded the sky and storm does whine, In my heart shines love for my Valentine.

9" x 7 5/8"
circa early 1900
by Ellen Clapsaddle
The same figures appearing on this die-cut card can be found on postcards
Card has easel stand on the back the bottom of which is seen above under the heart at their feet.

What is known for certain is that the war did devastate the card publishing industry in general and Wolf and Co was no exception. However, they did manage to keep on producing cards well beyond the end of WWI. 


To the One I Love ~ I love you, little Sweetheart mine, And want you for my Valentine.

3 1/2" x 3 7/8"
circa 1910s
 Flat

by Ellen Clapsaddle
marked: Printed in Germany

Soon after the demise of the company (which came around 1931), Clapsaddle entered the Peabody Home of 1000 Pelham Parkway, NY (around 1932), where she died just one day short of her 70th birthday on January 7th, 1934.


Love's Greeting ~ I have to join two hearts in one, And wish this tender task were done.

3 1/4" x 4 3/4"
circa 1920s
 Flat

attributed to Ellen Clapsaddle
marked: 458
made in USA
By Wolf and Co


To My Valentine - My Heart beats warm, as warm can be And this is 'cause of loving thee.


3 1/4" x 4 3/4"
circa 1920s
attributed to Ellen Clapsaddle
marked: 458
made in U.S.A.
no other publisher's marks
Series number (458) indicates Wolf and Co as publisher
 

Something to watch out for in your quest for cards by Clapsaddle are the reproductions - many of them by now vintage in their own right as some date to the 1980s - by companies like The Old Print Factory, Merrimack Publishing, and Shackman. Most that I have seen are clearly marked as by the company making that reproduction on the backside of the card and are not intended to fool collectors. These cards are not without value, but certainly are not as desirable as the original ones.


To my Best Love.

6" x 3 1/4"
circa 1910s
 Flat with Easel Stand

attributed to Ellen Clapsaddle
marked: 4038
Printed in Germany

To my Heart's Elect.

6" x 3 1/8"
circa 1910s
 Flat

attributed to Ellen Clapsaddle
no publisher's marks



 To my Valentine with Fondest Love.

4" x 4 1/4"
dated 1924
 Flap opens to reveal text

attributed to Ellen Clapsaddle
no publisher's marks
embossed detailing
note reuse of lady in green portrait





As a note, many of the dates given here are approximate and may not be exact. There is a lot of disagreement between sources on everything from Clapsaddle's birth year, to when she began working for International Art Publishing, the demise (and start) of Wolf Publishing, etc. I do find the information regarding the relationship between Wolf and Co and International Art Publishing to be credible which supports the earlier date (19th century) for the creation of Wolf Publishing and that it was already well-established before Clapsaddle began her relationship with that company. The source for this information comes from page 1245 of The Publishers Weekly, Vol 48 from December 28, 1895:


"New York - Wolf and Co., of Philadelphia, and Samuel Garre, the manager of the Art Lithographic Publishing Company, have organized the International Art Publishing Company, Limited, and this new company will open up for business in the new building at Nos. 3 and 5 Waverley Place, two doors from Broadway, New York, on January 1. This company will take over the Christmas card and souvenir business of Wolf and Co. and of the Art Lithographic Publishing Company, and besides these will have a number of other lines. Mr. Garre will have the management of the new company."


To My Sweet Valentine ~ My hope, my heaven, my trust must be My gentle guide, in following thee.

3 1/4" x 4 3/4"
circa 1900s, 1910s
 Fold-Out with Stand on Back

by Ellen Clapsaddle
no publisher's marks
Note reuse of Girl in Red Coat portrait above and below.

With Love.

6 3/8" x 5 3/4"
circa 1900s, 1910s
 Riveted, Layered Card with Easel Stand

by Ellen Clapsaddle
no publisher's marks

To My Valentine Ye're a Bonnie Lassie, Valentine.

7 5/8" x 3 1/2"
circa 1910s, 1920s
 Flat with easel stand

attributed to Ellen Clapsaddle
marked: No. 752
made in Bavaria
Ernest Nister/E P Dutton

Love's Greeting.

6 5/8" x 5"
circa 1910s
 Flat with Easel Stand

by Ellen Clapsaddle
marked with an "E" in the Circle on the Back

I know some one real nice I want for my Valentine.

6 7/8" x  7 1/2"
circa 1910s
 Standing Pull-Out card with 2 layers

by Ellen Clapsaddle
no publisher's marks

To you on St Valentine's Day.

7 1/8" x  6"
circa 1910s
 Mechanical Flat

attributed to Ellen Clapsaddle
published by Sam Gabriel
marked: Trade Mark 'G'
printed in the U.S.A.


To my Valentine In this great heart locked fast and firm, Is a treasure intended for me. I would like to look in, and I think I might If I thought nobody would see.


5 1/2" x  3 1/2"
circa 1910s
 Postcard

signed by Ellen Clapsaddle
published by International Art Publishing Co.
series No. 4242
marked: printed in Germany


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Companies Clapsaddle is known to have worked for:

International Art Publishing Co
Wolf Publishing Co
Stewart and Wolff
J. M. Jackson and Son
Hammond Publishing Co
Ernest Nister/E P Dutton


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Sources:

Ellen H. Clapsaddle Signed Postcards - An Illustrated Reference Guide by Ellen H. Budd
Valentine Treasury - A Century of Valentine Cards by Robert Brenner
Publishers Page from MetroPostcard.com

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