Cards Of Few Words

With the large
varieties of
available designs
on the market,
picking out the
perfect postcard
back in the
1900’s for an
occasion or message
was often a very
daunting task –

– anyone who’s had
to pick out just the
right Valentines Day
card probably knows
exactly what I mean.

But, even more so
in the case of a
postcard –

– there were strict
postal service rules
that regulated the
size, not to mention
where and how
much space was
left for a personalized
message by the sender.

( of course, users were
free to write all over
the design, and they
frequently did. )

So, while cramming
a lot into the display
area on the card
might be one
approach for a
publisher, while
another might be to
keep the selling point
of the card –
– the joke, or subject –
as generic and simple
as possible.

By doing that,
the seller had
an opportunity
to appeal to a
wider market –

– buyers could get
creative and choose
to send a particular
design under a
variety of different

But, in order for that
to work, the punch line
has to make sense and
match the art, it has to
have eye appeal, and it
has to tell a story.

There were thousands
of possible themes to
work with..

.. and could be drawn
from everyday life,
art, theatre, history,
even gardening, and
of course, LOVE. 

I’ve seen a lot of
great early-20th-century
cards like that, and
today, we’ll feature
a few of the more
interesting ones.

I’m not at all sure
some of the
would sell today,
but they are all
charming in their
own way.

!! HOY !!



Not Krakatoa, Karaktus

Keeping up appearances
was a very important
cultural imperative to
folks in the early 1900’s.

It may seem,
that any artist
would shudder
at the thought
of creating hundreds
of pieces without the
ability to take credit
for them…..

But, we can certainly
understand why an
artist back then might
be very careful …

The clearest
example that
I can point to,
is in the case of
“King of Saucy
Postcards ” Donald
McGill, whose very
funny double-entendre
postcards generated
an awful lot of drama
and aggravation for him,
up to and including
an obscenity prosecution
(more like persecution)
in his native country
of Britain.

So, many artists chose
to veil their identities
behind pseudonyms,
which have kept things
calm on the home front,
but makes identification
of their work very
difficult for today’s

Today, I offer a
prime illustration
( if you will…. )
of this principle —
the postcard creations
of one ” Karaktus “,
an artist doing work
for the Crown Publishing
Company in St. Albans,
England around the
turn of the century.

I have known several
individuals who insist
that Karaktus was a
well known illustrator
who also did cards
under his own name —
Fred Spurgin.

I’m a fan of his work,
and Karaktus’s, as well.

I just don’t see enough
similarities to say the
two people were one
and the same.

And nobody else has
been able to find out
just who Karaktus was.

( If you’d like to compare
the work of the two
yourself, see one of my
posts featuring Fred
Spurgin art here

It’s a mystery that
probably never
will be solved.

But, at least we can
enjoy his cards,
of course,
that being an artist
isn’t always as easy
as it seems.

!!! HOY !!!

Baseball Cards Been Very Very Good To Me

It’s true.

Most of the boys
of my generation
collected baseball
cards at one
time or another…..

They were invaluable
to a grammar school
kid as a form of currency,
and as the main
playing piece of
a game we called ‘flip’.

Basically, we would
throw (flip) a card
against a wall about
10 yards away, and
it would land on the
sidewalk –

– then guys would
take turns flipping
until their card
landed on top of
which now
became theirs.

Another variation
had the cards leaning
up against the wall
and the object was
to knock it down with
your own.

It sounds simple,
and I guess it was,
but there was an art
to it, I think….

Let’s just say I lost
one helluva
lotta baseball
cards in that way;

– I did learn a lot
about professional
baseball players, and
also about human
nature, and
that’s for sure.

But, I’ll bet
it’s been a while
since you’ve seen
any baseball cards
quite like these…………..

These were Goudey
“Heads-Up” cards,
produced before
World War II, in 1938.

They’re quite different
looking than the ones
we usually see —

there’s a head shot,
and then any body
parts/action shown
are cartooned in.

Goudey had been
making cards to sell
with their packs of gum
since 1933 – and they
were the first American
company to do that.

And it might seem
strange to us today,
but most of the
company’s now-would
-be-valuable printing
plates, records, archives
and unreleased cards
were destroyed in
the early 1960’s as
fuel to warm the
factory building
in the waning days
of the company.

But in the 30’s
and 40’s, the
Goudey Gum Company
did a great business in
these gum-cards over
two full decades, and
they didn’t just do
baseball themed
cards —

some of their other 
subjects included:

(1933-1940, 1947-1948)
Boy Scouts
Sea Raiders
World War (I) Gum
Majik Fold Pictures
Auto License Plates
The History Of Aviation
Jungle Gum
Our Gang Gum Puzzles
Soldier Boys

I hope you
enjoyed these !


!!! HOY !!!

Low Art Exhibition

1945jestcardsYou might have seen
my very elaborately
lavishly illustrated,
and beautifully written
post all about the
Mutoscope Company…

what a
great post
that was.

It soared far above the trite pablum usually found on this blog.

Sorry you missed it, and all.

Ok, so,
maybe it wasn’t all that beautifully written,
I’ll grant you.cooke

But whatdaya expect when you tune in to this channel —

High ART ?

but we couldn’t
get Alistair Cooke .

I frankly wouldn’t
understand his reticence to appear,

— except for the fact
that he has gone on
to that great ascot
store in the sky…..cookie

we couldn’t even get Alistair Cookie !

here’s the link to that post,

If you got nothing
else better to do,

…… including a thorough
clean out of that smelly
gym bag of yours, that is.

But, barrel1
the idea that I was dancing around today has to do
with the Mutoscope Company’s main competition
for penny pin ups and nickel novelties in the 1930’s and 1940’s —

Exhibit Supply Company,
of Chicago, Illinois.

These guys were really, really big–
especially during World War II. kisscard

They made a lot of different arcade products,

… including mechanical pin-ball style games,
and various kinds of amusement machines,

—- but we’ll be talking
about their art cards.

At first glance,
a lot of their stuff
looks almost indistinguishable
from Mutoscope’s —kisscards

So much so,
that their cards are often grouped in together at
collector shows,

— under a general heading like:

“Mutoscope Cards”,
“Display Cards”
or “Exhibit Cards”.

They’re generally the same size,
and shape, too —

because they were
meant to be interchangeable
in the various display and
vending machines
in which they were used.

And like Mutoscope,
they developed cards in
many different genres
and subjects….
—– to cover just about any interest.

Movie Stars,
Palm Reading,
Knot Tying,
Cars of the World,
G.I. Humor,
Sports Stars,
Animals of the World,
Magic Tricks,
Future Spouses,
Dating Tips,
Joke Books,
Goofy Cartoons,
Novelty ‘Permits’,
Kiss Cards,
Predict Your Future,
Bathing Suit Models,
Half Dressed Cuties,
and even Naughty
Nudies, too…..permits

usually, though —

The Exhibit Supply cards are clearly marked
with something like:
” Ex. Sup. Co.. CHGO. ”

You’ll start to notice that
there’s definitely a different approach to much of their art,
once you get used to looking at them.

One of their most interesting set of cards were joke permit cards–

that would supposedly
entitle the holder to do
something naughty —

There were cards for men
that would give them license to be:

A.W.O.L. ( Away from your
military post without leave )1a1a
A Keyhole Peeper
A Garter Snapper
A Buck Passer
A Cheater
A Heavy Petter
A Halitosis Sufferer
A Drunk

Some of the things girls
could get a ‘permit’ to
do included :a1a1a

Develop Their Bust
Chew Gum
Sling Mud
Pass Out
Two Time
or be a Blonde Bombshell.

back during wartime,
one needed a permit to
buy gas, meat, all kinds of stuff — rationcards

So, this genre played off on that to great effect,

— and there was a mess of these issued.

Another very popular ‘permit’ titles was called:

“Jack Ass Ration Permits”

During the difficult time of limited supplies,
and black market profiteering,

….. one could just imagine
who might become the lucky recipient
of one of these sarcastic little bomblets.


Exhibit Supply also issued
a book of quick witted insults,stingeroos
with my favorite cover of all time…….

It was called:
” Stingeroos for Everybody “.

come on, man…..

How could you resist buying a set of cards with THAT cover,
I ask you ????

Actually, the ‘Exhibit’ art work is far superior
to the competition on several items like this…..

Another card set had to do
with picking up guys, and gals…

“Go Catch ‘Em” cards were
so popular, they ran into 12 editions.

catchemAnd you can see why —

The art is very unusual,
and spectacular.

Check it out.

The humor, well,

it was nothing special,
I guess….

not unlike this blog,
come to think of it.


There were a variety of erotic,
and semi-erotic (dirty) cards
that would be loaded
into card dispensers and viewers —a1a

—- ranging from your
typical era pin ups,
to ‘adult’ shifted humor,
sexy puns and captions,
and up to more exotic
‘French’ style cards, too….

What you would see
would be very dependent
on how tight-assed a place
you were in —

Since the local market determined
what was considered acceptable.

And in a more wide open ‘service’ town,

— you might find this charming lady.


All in all,

looking back
at the products of the
Exhibit Supply Company 1956
can be a fun, interesting,
and even educational way to spend an evening —

I found some very cool stuff….

and I know I learned a little, too.


There might even be a part two to this post,
— who knows.