Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nostalgia: Vintage Patriotic Postcards

Happy 4th of July!

We’re celebrating Independence Day on The Paper Compass with these wonderful vintage patriotic postcards that are rich with history that goes beyond their images.  I found these this spring on at an antique store on Route 19 in Florida, which runs up the Gulf Coast.

The images of the Eagle & Fireworks and Washington & the Army are embossed (in a few places without much precision) which gives the postcards a decadent feel and a creates a depth to the image.  Washingon & the Army, interestingly is printed by a British Company, Raphael Tuck & Sons, “Art publishers to their majesties the King & Queen.”  It is a part of a series entitled “George Washington’s Birthday” and is No. 124.  In my research, I have placed this series about 1910.

Washington’s Home, Mt Vernon was a must-have postcard for me, having visited the historic site this past December.  It shows the house from the veranda side and restored through the work of curator Harrison Howell Dodge who implemented many improvements on the estate that Washington himself had not had time to undertake before his death.  This is postmarked 1914.      

What is interesting about these postcards as a group is that they show the reactionary movement, in the first part of the century, to define and preserve the history of the United States.  This came as a response to the flood of European immigrants coming into the country.  With immigration at its peak in 1907, therewere 13.5 million immigrants living in the United States by 1910.  Rather than embracing the new cultures, the response of many organizations in the US was a push to preserve America’s history with a focus on educating immigrants about America’s founding and what it meant to be part of the new American culture.  While it has taken us many decades to finally embrace and celebrate our melting pot culture, the good that did come from the patriotic push of the 1910s is the preservation of many of our historic landmarks.

Last but not least, is this almost surreal postcard of Hotel George Washington, from my old stomping grounds of West Palm Beach, Florida, postmarked 1948.  I don’t know whether to assume there was a giant sign of Washington’s head outside or if this was created for the postcard image.  (If anyone has any information, I would be grateful for your insight.)

I also really like the seated captain in the foreground with his fishing reels and “For Charter” sign.  I hope that like the captain, you can take some time today to relax, enjoy our country’s history and celebrate your independence.   

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