Halloween Postcards

Halloween postcards seem to be a very stable commodity in the postcard world. For the last 30 years, I have seen the price grow from a couple of dollars a card to $1,500 for some. While the prices for individual cards may fluctuate from time to time, there has never been a drastic drop, a true blue chip of the industry. Why might this be?

The factors that seem to have played a major role in this sector of postcards being collected is it seems to be a holiday that all adults relate to having had it play some part in their lives as children. The attraction to the holiday is the fun of costumes, candy and being allowed to run free and be a bit naughty without fear of punishment. It is the one time of the year that children are free to run wildly through neighborhoods after dark. Just pure excitement abounds everywhere from school parties to parades to crazy fun with friends.

The postcards of Halloween for the most part are extremely colorful and well done. The history portrayed on the cards relate to the past importance of the time as being a major step in courtship which would lead to a successful marriage, maybe as soon as Spring. Many of the traditions relate to women trying to determine who their true love may be. One Halloween card features a couple hanging as ornaments on a Christmas tree with the verse, “Your face I’ve seen on Halloween, Will you be my little Queen?” this reaffirms the importance of Halloween as a source of finding a spouse. This card recently sold for $175 in the Lyn Knight Auction.

Because the postcards were produced for the American market, the number is more limited than holidays that were celebrated around the world. By collectors’ counts the total number of images produced for Halloween, excluding any real photo postcards is about 3500 images. It is only recently that the European collectors have become extremely excited over the Halloween postcards and are becoming a major buying force in this topic on eBay.

Of all the Halloween postcards collected, the publisher John O. Winsch of Stapleton, New York, is the publisher of choice when buying high quality, steadily increasing values and great design. The Winsch postcards designed by Samuel L Schmucker have always been on the list of must haves. The main company of John Winsch was only in business a short time. It is generally known that Winsch started business in 1910, really reached its peak in 1911 and then stop producing cards in 1915. However, a collector has recently pointed out to me he has had Winsch cards with copyright dates into the 20s but not of the standards of the early cards.

Winsch like many publishers of their time would hire artists to design graphic art for them and would become owners of this art. To save added costs, publishers would combine parts of images from one artists work with that of another to create a new design for a postcard. While it was frustrating to the artist to see his work be cut and pasted with others of perhaps lesser quality, it was a standard practice.

One of the funniest examples of that to me is the Frexias Halloween card of the child taking a lid off a pumpkin, which was later used as a Valentine by replacing the base of the pumpkin with a heart. However, they neglected to remove the pumpkin lid from the child’s hand.

Many of the Winsch postcards illustrated here have pieces of Schmucker’s work used as background with children that have been designed by a different artist. Look carefully at the images. In one case the top postcard has been divided in two with the top half of the image being a background on one card and the bottom half of the image as a background on a different postcard.

These types of designs confuse beginning collectors. I am frequently asked, “Is this a Schmucker?” And the answer has to be, well, yes and no. He did the background work.

Enjoy the images illustrated here but examine them to see the cross over from one card to another.

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