Vintage Halloween Greetings
Halloween is one of the worlds most celebrated holidays, and like all holidays, how we celebrate them has changed over the years. Today we will look back to a time when Halloween had a different design. This Halloween took place in a simpler times. the images on the postcard reveal a Halloween that was less aimed at children and more of an adult holiday where magic, mischief and even romance could manifest. Most if not of these images were postcards, used to share Halloween greetings with loved ones far away.
In what appears to be one of the earliest images in our collection we see a phantom with strange "ears". The odd old-fashioned phrasing and tempo of this Halloween poem basically advises that not all ghosts are bad and this one brings good tidings.
Given the modern inclusion of clowns in horror canon, this creepy image seems ahead of its time. It combines the well worn trope of Halloween apple bobbing with a unsettling Pierrot style clown.
A simply drawn yet frightening image of ghostly faces are scolding the receiver of this postcard for a lack of communication in the previous year. This one is copyrighted 1910.
An Imp or Goblin emerging from a pumpkin. You will see depictions of these mischievous creatures throughout this collection. Modern Halloween characters like Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, and the wolfman (werewolves) were concepts of literature and worldly folklore but not seen in these early American Halloween images. For this time period, the icons of Halloween seem to be limited to witches, goblins, ghosts, black cats ,bats and of course the devil himself.
A unsettling parade of cherubic faced girls dressed as ghosts march with jack o lanterns.
A wish for a thrilling Halloween.
This image from 1911 shows goblins in silhouette riding bats.
An inviting scene shows us the "harmless" charms of Halloween as an apple bobbing game is prepared. This tradition became connected to Halloween through the continuing of practices established during Samhain a Gaelic celebration that celebrated the harvest while acknowledging the coming of prevailing darkness and cold in the form of Winter.
This greeting warns that despite its charms, the wiles of Satan may be hiding behind seemingly harmless Halloween traditions. The word wiles refers to clever schemes or tricks launched by Satan meant to ensnare our souls.
There's a lot going on here in this whimsical image from 1912 which brings to my mind some elements reminiscent of a Christmas card. The red and green colors, lit candle, complete with traditional candlestick holder, and gold toned stars. Even the font plainly stating "Halloween Greeting" looks like a traditional yule tide font. Beyond the wholesomeness of the courting mice, its the Jack o Lantern and witchy smoke-ghost that deliver a hint of Halloween chills.
Apparently, as Halloween has evolved much throughout it's history, it went through an awkward phase where the night was a time where ladies of the day could, on this magic night, learn the name of the person they are destined to marry. It wasn't without peril, where several of these scenarios depict menacing figures bound to stop you or dire circumstances if these strange rituals where not performed to the letter. This was just one of a series printed in 1910, another from the set can be seen below.
This image again describes a bizarre ritual for scoring a husband. The graphic style and yellow logo witch appears the same as the "Backwards down the cellar steps" ritual found above.
This image too, printed in Germany by the E.C. Banks company in 1909, details a ritual for finding the name of your husband. She looks though to have received more than she bargained for as two ghosts have come to pay a visit. I love the way the specters are depicted with washed out faces vacant eyes.
Another holiday postcard from the Stecher Company meant to show an innocent, non-frightening custom related to Halloween night.
Another love prediction, this time, look to your tea to see your true love.
This card, copyrighted in 1907 may be using innuendo to suggestion that Halloween was once though of as a night for romance.
There is a lot going on in this image with an illustration of boys playing a Halloween prank within a frame depicting a witch, jack o lantern, cat, and other spooky icons. While Trick or treating did not become a popular practice in America till the 30's this image whereas the boys ring the local doctors night bell as a Halloween trick certainly bring that to mind.
Stingy Jack 1913 winsch schmucker produced in germany
This image portrays a young boy protecting a young girl from a menacing, yet retreating, goblin-like figure with a pumpkin face.
Another strange ritual for finding a marriage partner.
Wishing luck to people on Halloween was a subtle way of reminding ones of the dangers inherent on the magical night.
This card evokes the "Imp" creature which is different from the goblins we've see more often here. It is a European mythological creature similar to a fairy devil or goblin. The sentiment hopes that you are brave enough on this night that your sleep remains undisturbed.
This ghost with Jack O Lantern face image is seen several times in this collection. I could not find if the figure was a generic image or a characterization of Stingy Jack. Not welcome in heaven or hell Stingy Jack was an Irish folklore figure, cursed to walk the Earth with only a carved turnip lantern to light his weary way.
I love this endearing image showing a row of jack o lanterns.
There are many depictions of evil spirits and goblins looking in windows. As if to warn stay inside where its safe and warm for outside mischief is afoot!
The Halloween Brigade strikes to steal away with pumpkins despite the farmers protest.
This charmingly simple design delivers a warm Halloween message in style.
One of my favorite images here, paired with some of my favorite words.
This is definitely one of the most curious and morbid images from this assembly.
A menacing image in a folk art style.
A far cry from the frightening image above, this decidedly more modern Rockwellian image complete with product placement (may have come from an advertisement) shows the wholesome joys of trick or treating. like the inclusion of Santa clause with the Christmas holiday elements were added over the centuries Celtic festivals of the harvest one such one was a Gaelic festival Samhaim Halloween added trick or treating to its traditions and the holiday was solidified as kiddie fare. although similar practices of dressing up and setting into the night for treats have been around for centuries, it was not called trick or treating till surprisingly recently. The practice had ancient roots but did not show up in North America until the 20's. Then World War II in its disruption almost killed the practice altogether. It wasn't till much later that it would be resurrected. in 1947 popular children's magazines Jack and Jill as well as Children's Activities both showcased trick or treating, a sort of introduction of the practice to Americans. Another of the first know solidification of the trick or treat as we know it today was depicted in in peanuts cartoon in 1951. In 1952 Disney released a cartoon short called trick or treat starring Donald Duck, his nephews, and a witch named hazel whereas they out do each other in tricks for the sake of treats. also, in 1953 the country had ended sugar rationing, a measure required by the 80 percent reduction in supply during World War II. With this ending candy companies seized the moment and began including trick or treating in their advertisements. All of these factor gave rise to the trick or treat practice solidifying the kid friendly nature of the holiday to this day. The collection of images, mostly Halloween greeting cards predate the trick or treat era of Halloween, when the holiday was not as child oriented. as such card designers saw the holiday through a different lens then we see today. decidedly more adult in nature, Halloween was seen as a magical night where good and indeed bad things could be happen and be seen. Indeed, this was believed to be a magic if not frightening night, not without its charms but also one where you needed to keep your wits about you or you might find trouble. Ironically you will find notes of valentines day here where may of these cards are preoccupied with the night of Halloween being the night in which you find your true love. It is around this time that Valentines day id being turned into a holiday about love and selling hallmark is selling greeting cards.
Pbviously newer tham most of the images curated here, Another Rockwellian idealic image of the inncent fun of halloween trick or treating. the tradition of trick or treating as we know it.....
I can assume the inside of the card completes the thought with the "Its just me! Obviously a mask, its still unsettling to me how child like the skull image is.
Another more modern Halloween card here, making no bones about wanting to scare you this Halloween! I foolishly thought I might be able to date the image due to the reference to gelatin, but that stuff was around since the 15th century.
A great image here, I love that we can see the tiny human hands holding the pumpkin. Clapsaddle Company 1910
A rather creepy image where as you are being watched by something outside your window.
Halloween was the night for spotting Witches.
Another Witch in red, joined by a black cat, and a harvest person creature. Aside from the obvious connection to the harvest, I could not find any origin to this rather curious creature despite it being once a popular Halloween icon Although one image labeled the creature as a scarecrow.
Witches in red entertain on this halloween evening.
this card warns of the dangers of not following the strange rituals exactly.
In this illustration, Copyright 1908.
Im curious to know if these were actual lore or novel yarn created just for the art.
This card warns little ones to hold on tightly to someone this Halloween so they dont get snatched by goblins. The goblin is shown as a somwhat generic figure devilish with blue skin
Another image that warn not to go outside or even look out the window! The frightful specters here seem to modeled after traditional carved and decorated turnips and potatoes where toothy grins were carved a practice began in Ireland.
This greeting implores kindness from the witches you will be meeting on this night.
No comment on this one.
Simple greating and simple imagaery show a witch keeping warm as traditional haystacks adorn the background.
I love this design, from the transparent skull faced ghost to the pumpkin cat and bat filled dark sky!
This curious image and accompanied text champions "Ghosty Interests". 1913 Gibson Art Company
This witch depicted in red warns of mischief.
Great use of homonyms here.
A wonderful image that looks to be from the fifties or inspired by Norman Rockwell shows a young girl peering through a window with a witch mask.
A cute Halloween party invitation.
Here we see a later image showing a witch in her typical post Wizard of Oz guise complete with all black dress, green skin,and long bewarted nose.