Saturday, October 25, 2014

Valentine Themed Trade Cards

Trade cards were very popular in the Victorian era. The advertisements sometimes used symbols associated with different specific holidays (like cupids for Valentine's Day, or rabbits for Easter), or mentioned a holiday directly, as our example for McLaughlin's Coffee, seen below, does.

 St. Valentine's Day Drink McLaughlins XXXX Coffee.

5 3/8" x 6 7/8"
circa 1870s, 1880s
2-Sided Flat
 From a set of 12 cards each featuring a different Holiday.

published by Shober and Carqueville

Shober and Carqueville was formed in 1876 when Charles Shober joined Edward Carqueville in reorganizing the Chicago Lithographic Company after the departure of Louis Kurtz. In the 1880s Shober moved on. After Carqueville's 1896 death it became the Carqueville Lithographic Press until its sale in 1915 to Theodore Schmidt Lithographing Co.


Industrial Chicago Vol 4, 1894, Godspeed Publishing Co., p 487-488

Monday, October 20, 2014

Publisher - Ernest Nister/E. P. Dutton

 My Sweetheart - A little boy may have a heart as big as any man. His love is more than tongue can tell or little arm can span.

3 3/4" x 3 1/2"
circa 1910s
marked: Ernest Nister, London
E P Dutton and Co, New York
Printed in Bavaria
No 3151

Ernest Nister was a late 19th century/early 20th century German printer  and publisher with offices in Germany, England* and in the USA. He began as a printer in Nuremberg in 1877 and had expanded to London by 1888. By 1889, his move to New York was underway. Nister produced a variety of printed items for sale to all three of those locales resulting in items in German meant for sale in Germany and items in English for either the British or American markets. A deal was struck with E P Dutton to be their exclusive agent for items exported to the USA.** This is why all of the items created for selling in the States bear the Dutton name along with Nister's. In addition to their valentines and other cards, collectors look for their games and especially their charming mechanical books. The company can be credited for several innovations in engineering moving books for which they held patents. Among their many ventures, Nister even produced posters for the London Transport.

My Valentine You're all the world to me ~ Tho' over all the earth you roam And wander far away, The path of love will lead you home, Wherever you may stray; So take it, dear, and you will see How soon 'twill bring you back to me!

3 1/4" x 3 1/4"
circa 1890s
marked: Ernest Nister, London
E P Dutton and Co, New York
Printed in Bavaria
No 895

Several well-known artists and authors (among these were Constance Wilde aka Mrs. Oscar Wilde, a writer and quite a personality herself who wore daring outfits challenging the acceptable fashions for women of her day) worked for Nister. There are just a few signed examples, however the vast majority do not bear the artist's name despite the stature of some of those artists. However, most if not all of the cards bear his publisher's mark. 

My Little Sweetheart My heart is whole; my fancy free; Are you inclined to mate with me?

8 3/4" x 5"
circa 1910s, 1920s
 Standing Flat
 by Ernest Nister/EP Dutton

marked:No. 1241
printed in Bavaria

The cards are high quality in design, printing, and in the papers utilized. Clever paper engineering can be seen in several of the cards, as might be expected from the innovator of such imaginative moving books. Items can be found dating from the late 1870s into the 1910s, although any items dating to the 1870s would be from the late part of that decade and any text would almost certainly be in German. The company was a going concern until sometime in 1917, lasting several years beyond the death of it's founder.

My Valentine - A Sweet Pair.

4 3/4" x 4 3/8"
circa 1880s, 1890s
Fold Open
marked: Ernest Nister, London
Printed in Bavaria
No 245

The pear, not the children's faces in the interior, appears on postcard No. 940. Nister often reused images or parts of images in different cards or in books.

Cupid's Minuet ~ I'll always love you, Valentine, If you will promise to be mine.

5 1/4" x 5 1/4"
Standing Fold Out
for Ernest Nister/E P Dutton

I think this is Brundage (but it could be by Harriet M. Bennett - the two artists' work is very similar - who also did quite a bit of illustrating for Nister)

This card, Cupid's Minuet, is mentioned as "one of the best of the offerings" in an article on the new season of valentines that focuses on Nister in Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer, Vol 20 pp 55-59 from January 15, 1904. Unfortunately the article doesn't mention the artist's name. 

To My Sweet  Valentine - Cherry Lips, Cherry Lips, will you be mine? I love you and want you for my valentine.

4 1/4" x 4 7/8"
circa 1900s, 1910s
Standing Card with 3-d detailing
Ernest Nister/E P Dutton

marked: No. 3072
I suspect this may be the work of Brundage. The same child with cherry earrings appears on other cards. 

*The offices in 1906 were at 24, 26 and 28 St Bride St, London as announced in British Market Vol 30 Issue 3, July 1906, p27
**The American Stationer, Volume 25, 1889, p1230.

Artists known to have been employed by Nister (this list is a work in progress and should not be considered complete):


  • The Romance of Greeting Cards, Ernest Dudley Chase; Rust Craft Pub, revised 1956 edition
  • A History of Valentines, Ruth Webb Lee; The Studio Pub,1952 
  • Valentine Treasury, Robert Brenner; Schiffer, 1997
  • Valentines A Collector's Guide, Barbara Johnson, Ph. D.; Collector Books, 2011
  • Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, Oxford University Press, 2006
  • The Publishers Circular and General Record of British and Foreign Literature, Vol LI, June 1, 1888, p645
  • The Publishers Circular and Booksellers Record of British and Foreign Literature, Vol 12, Issue 65, July to December 1896, p3

Publisher Ed. Wolf

 No Text.

3" x 4 1/2"
dated 1882
 A Stock Trade Card whose theme and color scheme fits right in with Valentines.

The "Ed. Wolf" in question is likely Edward Wolf of the Wolf Brothers, who went on to form the International Art Publishing Company with brothers Isaac and Gustave, and Samuel Garre of the Art Lithographic Publishing Co., later in the 19th century. That company produced postcards. They are best known for their postcards illustrated by Ellen Clapsaddle.

Items marked by Ed. Wolf are rather rare. I have seen other cards that have had the same dimensions and have been similar in appearance, even having the same 1882 copyright date. Those like this one shown have been the only cards I have seen bearing this publishing name.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mossman - Maker of 19th Century Paper Lace Valentine Cards

Loves Offering

3 7/8" x 5 1/2"
circa 1870s, 1880s 
 Single Fold

David Mossman (1825-1901) was an English valentine maker who created lovely paper lace cards dating to the 1860s through at least the 1880s. His paper lace blanks were sometimes purchased by others to finish. There is an example of a card finished by famed valentine collector Jonathan King that resides in the collection of the Museum Of London. I don't know if Howland used any of his blanks. I have read mention of Mossman cards featuring "splendid miniature paintings"* but have not seen any examples of such cards myself. Examples of Mossman cards reside in the collections of several museums.

Our card features fine detailing in the paper lace. The front is adorned with applied Victorian scraps. The interior has a hand written verse:

No other motive has been mine
For sending you this Valentine
Except my friendship to express
And wish you wealth and happiness.

*Jonathan King as quoted on p34 of The American Stationer, Volume 68, July 2, 1910


Ruth Webb Lee - A History of Valentines, 1952
The American Stationer, Volume 68, July 2, 1910

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cannons - Big Shots in Love

You're the BIG SHOT in my life, Dear Valentine.

6 1/4" x 4 1/2"
circa 1940s, 1950s
Mechanical Flat
 marked: made in USA

To My Valentine.

12 1/8" x 8 5/8" x 2 1/4"
Dimensional Card
Angels with Cannon

5 layers
circa 1900s, 1910s
marked: Germany
features a tissue paper flag emblazoned with a heart
and paper-puff accent in red

perhaps a Frances Brundage

Animals - Deer

I love you DEER-ly Valentine!

2 3/8" x 5"
circa 1960s 
 made in USA

You're a DEER - Be my Valentine.

4 1/2" x 3 1/4"
circa 1950s  
  made in USA
 marked 59VK-747-16
card was punched out of a book or set

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Goofy Gumpus Series - Valentine Card Cryptozoology

There are at least 2 different versions of the Goofy Gumpus series of mechanical flat valentine cards. The slightly larger version (our top card seen below) is on heavier paper and has a more matte look to its finish than the slightly smaller version (seen below at bottom). Both feature nonsensical animals with 3 different heads and a figure with a sign (Valentine Greetings) seated atop the beast.

Why the funny animal? It's just my funny way Of bringing you my message My greeting for today~ Be My Valentine!

4 5/8" x 5 3/4"
circa 1920s, 1930s 
  Mechanical Flat
  marked: Made in U.S. Amer.

Rise with me the Goofy Gumpus - Tell me you'll be mine; Even if the thing should dump us ~ Be My Valentine!

4 5/8" x 4 3/4"
circa 1920s, 1930s 
  Mechanical Flat
  no publisher's marks