Dogs Made Some Delightful 20th Century Postcard Images

There is the story of a presidential contender who encountered a former President of the United States.

When the contender asked about life in the White House, the President offered, “ I have good news and bad news. The good news is that if you are elected you will be permitted to bring your dog to the White House to live with you.”

“Wonderful,” replied presidential hopeful, “and what is the bad news?”

Replied the former President, “the bad news is that the dog will be happier there than you will be.”

Dogs have been living in the White House, off and on, for generations. Dogs too have been depicted on postcards practically as long as postcards have been around.

Some pretty serious artists have undertaken the task of illustrating dogs for postcards. Among the most prolific was Maud West Watson who dazzled the craft early in the 20th century with adorable portraits of pooches from bulldog puppies to full-grown Yorkshires.

Other artists contributing images of man’s best friend on postcards include comic illustrator Clare “Dwig” Dwiggins, Norah Drummond, Arthur Thiele, Vivian Mansell, Charles Rose, Vincent Cardinell,  H. W. Frees, England’s May Smith, and of course British contributor George Studdy and companion Bonzo.

A significant number of early postcard publishers focused  on dogs as well. They ranged from Animal Studies by Raphael Tuck and Sons in England to the puppy series from Vincent V. Colby of Denver, Colorado. By the 1950s a number of publishers who specialized in full color chrome issues ‘adopted’ numerous breeds of dogs. Among them Dexter Press, Columbia Wholesale Supply, Colorpicture Publishers, and Plastichrome of Boston, Mass.

Literature of the 20th century is full of examples of man’s relationship with dog. Stories are rich with enduring dog names such as Argus, Bob Son of Battle, Buck, Toby, Scuttlebutt, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Pluto, and even Snoopy. Lots of these fictional dogs, by the way, have achieved postcard status or even United States postal stamp status over the years.

History suggests that even in medieval times dogs were depicted as symbols of fidelity. And the adoration goes back even earlier. A colorful postcard issued by the University of Iowa’s Museum of Art shows the small statue of a dog crafted as early as 100 B.C. It was discovered in the ruins of another culture in the Colima region of Mexico.

Lots of people collect postcards featuring dogs. Some center on a particular breed. Others give way to the simple sentiment reflected on the face of an adorning dog. Whatever the reason postcard publishers have known about this curious fascination since they have been in the printing business.

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