Old things you find in antique stores often tell a story of bygone eras but none quite so literally as postcards from the early 1900s.
Finding a way to make them relevant and useful again took some thought, but eventually I found a way to bring together old and new.
Over the years as I’ve browsed in antique stores, I’ve bought some of these old postcards, and they tell fascinating stories in even such a small format. I wasn’t sure what, but I knew I wanted to make something with them – so I held them for a couple of years until one day it hit me.
The postcards would make historically interesting additions to new, handmade greeting cards with matching envelopes, and once I landed on this idea, I started sketching away! I also thought of finding some of those old photograph corners I barely remember as a young child. (My first batch was before I thought of the photograph corners, and on these I used a tiny dot of removable glue that didn’t damage the postcards.)
Since the early 1900s postcards were beautiful and often very ornate on the fronts – yet the interesting messages were on the backs – using the photograph corners would enable the recipient to have a beautiful card face that could be removed to read the interesting back. Voila!
It turns out scrapbookers revived those old photograph corners for modern day use, which I didn’t know. When I found these, the plan was complete as I knew I’d be able to make use of the postcard fronts and backs.
The Postcard Messages
Some of the handwritten messages are funny to read, and you certainly know they’re from an earlier way of life with their one-cent postage stamps; addresses that often are only the recipient’s name and the town; and the dates starting in 1908.
One gentleman had access to a typewriter, as you’ll see in this postcard (complete with a couple of typos). He sends it to a “Miss Mabel” in Michigan and although he starts with “Dear Friend,” it sounds as if he may have been a gentleman caller!
A woman in 1910 writes a friend to inquire about her baby, saying, “It’s too bad she has whooping cough,” although it looks as if it is spelled “hooping” cough. Did the spelling change? Was it a local way of saying and spelling it? I don’t know but it’s interesting to think about.
Another postcard from a lady to a friend in Nebraska in 1908 says, “I’m fine and dandy,” and writes about how she and her husband are getting their garden ready. It’s an Easter greeting, so presumably spring and gardening are just around the corner.
Bringing Together Old and New
The postcards are fascinating to read and even more fun to imagine these early 1900s people who wrote and received them! And, it was fun to take something antique and give it a modern use. I still have some of the old postcards I didn’t use for greeting cards. Others used on the greeting cards were sent to people for birthdays, Easter, and Christmas.
Take a look at how beautifully postcards were made back then – really more like a modern-day greeting card, and certainly not like any postcards I’ve ever sent or received. I especially love the ones that are embossed, some with gold fill, and also the ones with such intricate artwork like the green Easter egg.
When you love paper and enjoy history and biographies like I do, this was a really enjoyable project, although it was a slow process because I’d catch myself daydreaming about the possible backstories for “Miss Mabel,” “Mr. John,” and “Miss Lottie!”
It appears that some of the ladies addressed on the postcards as “Miss” actually were married because I see what look like husbands referenced. Growing up in the South, as children we called our mothers’ friends by “Miss (first name)” regardless of whether they were married, so this may have been the case here as well. But, I digress with the wondering and daydreaming … here are some of the greeting cards I made with the early 1900s postcards!
Do you have any old postcards or letters from the early 1900s? If so, are they from family members, or were they found like these used on the greeting cards? Please comment below!