The Postcard Art Of Bernhardt Wall

damnthingI always find that vintage postcards
are even more interesting,

— when you know
something about the artist.

You’ve probably noticed,
from time to time,

a group of cards
from a particular era
that share a very
individualized style,

and wondered about
who created them and why.

American born artist
Bernhardt Wall
was called ‘The King of Postcards’, bernhardtwall

at least in the United States,
between 1910 and 1940–

— based on the fact
that he created more
than 5000 different designs,

mostly light hearted
and humorous —

Bernhardt was more
than a postcard artist.

Much, much more.

He also was very heavily involved
in American defense efforts
during the period between 1898 and 1918…

gasAlready a working lithographer,
he volunteered for service
in the Spanish-American war in 1898,

—- and upon his return took up the study of etching full time.

After education at the
Buffalo Art Student’s League
and an apprenticeship
under William Auerbach-Levy,

he soon proved himself a prolific,
versatile, and creative artist…

and he produced a large body of
propaganda during World I.

His cards really do have
a very special recognizable quality– bite

— no matter what the subject or genre —
you can usually spot a Bernhardt Wall creation.

there’s a sentimental aspect and tone
reflected in his note cards, for instance ….

and a charming style to the way
he draws his dogs in the cards with animals.

Children with wide eyes and sweet demeanors
characterize many of his cards used for Valentines…..

but his Halloween cards have a weird creepiness
that belies the era from which they come.

sassyRarely do his characters
seem more than a tiny bit suggestive,

and they also have an innocence and simplicity
that is easy to relate to.

The majority of his work was published by Valentines and Sons,

— but he also created drawings and canvases for Gibson Art,
Illustrated Postal Cards,
and several others.

Especially talented as an illustrator and engraver,

he was also a keen reader, writer, and historian –

His historical works included publications such as:andrewjackson

“The Invitation to Gettysburg”,

“Following General Sam Houston”,

and “Windjammer”.

A book that he personally printed
and bound himself featured his etchings
of Indians, cowboys and the frontier U.S.–

It was called “Under Western Skies”,

…… and it was extremely well received at the time.

He is known to have created etchings
of many past famous personages, including:austin

Andrew Jackson,
Mark Twain,
Thomas A. Edison,
Abraham Lincoln,
Walt Whitman,
Stephen F. Austin
and George Armstrong Custer.

There is a particularly large collection
of these in the archives of Texas A&M University,

— those dealing with the Alamo,
and other aspects of frontier history,trooly
are especially popular with students poring through the stacks….

Much of this archive is also online at:


Others are also out there–

Wall was a very popular and busy guy!

Muscleheaded Blog frequent readers will probably remember–

(probably, maybe not)

— the post that dealt
with the whole ‘September Morn’
art work controversy– september

and how some postcards were issued mocking the hubbub,

— with sarcastic humor and good grace —

Yes, number four
on that post was an original Walls !

And so is this one.

You can find that post here.

Bernhardt Wall died in Sierra Madre, California in 1956-

— and, by then,

had created a huge body of work
in many aspects of publishing and art.manwants


modern audiences usually have their
first exposure to Wall’s work
through his very interesting vintage postcards….

And why not?

Great art is art that resonates with people —

Whether they be today,
or hundred years from now.

And I think Wall’s work lives up to that standard, and more.

Although I’m not sure about his spelling…….





Inspector Cluck

chickenI’m pretty sure they’re
not making cards like
these anymore….

(they date from
around 1920 or so….. )

Girl watching ,
which in itself is
a perfectly natural
and innocent activity,
has been given more
than one black-eye
in recent years for
conduct and uncouth
attitudes about the
gentler sex that kinda23
makes all of us guys
look bad…….

I really shouldn’t just
say ‘in recent years’,

— there’s always been
guys who were perfectly
willing to pretend
that they were heaven’s gift
to women,

— or had the right
to impose themselves
upon them and treat inpe
them like so much

but don’t touch…

Women are nature’s
greatest art-work —inspector

you don’t grabbing holt
of the statues in the
museum, do ya?

— and keep your shouted
comments and remarks
to yourself, man –

chickencat calling is not
only potentially
for her,
but makes you look
like a desperate asshole.

But, I don’t wanna get
all ‘social issue’ and stuff…..

I just wanna say

Everybody knows that
women are not only
indispensable to male

— but also are better
at a lot of
things than men —

— and they should be
appreciated and always
treated with the respect
they deserve.

And frankly, I do find
these cards hopelessly
lost in the vacuum of
outdated attitudes and
phony paternalism —

However, this kinda
stuff reinforces just
how important balancing
content and context
is when looking back at
historical/cultural relics.

Note the interesting
variety of styles
in the cards
that were printed
with this theme —

– metal chicken inspector
badges also sold like
hotcakes back then.

To show you how pervasive
this whole ‘chicken inspector’
thing was in the early part of
the 20th century, a recent
excavation made for the
Pennsylvania Department
of Transportation in Lower
Chichester Township
(near Philadelphia)
revealed a cache of
those pot metal ‘badges’
engraved with the number
23 in the remains of old
houses in the area —

If you’re a loyal
Muscleheaded reader,
you’ll probably remember
that ’23’ had a good deal of
slang significance during
that era.

It was part of the whole
’23 skidoo’ thing —

— and it’s appearance
on those badges
(and on the postcards
shown on today’s post)
probably means that
the wearer would have
been suggesting that
other men should buzz
off and leave the ‘chicken inspecting’
to the ‘professionals’.

Oh boy.

A very inside joke
if you’re not
from the
early 1900’s,
but still……

Anyhoo —

It once again just
goes to show you,
our forefathers were
as mental as we are.



!!! HOY !!!

Rah Rah Earl Christy

rootforthehometeamA lot of folks like
to collect sports memorabilia,

….. whether it be from the professional leagues,
semi-pro, or
college level teams.

Among the favorites in
the U.S. are of course,
basketball, football,
and baseball.

I’d rather follow
the cheerleaders.

And yes,

there have been sports memorabilia
issued about pep squads and the like —

Oh sure,

— you probably had
a ‘Debbie Does Dallas’
poster on your bedroom
wall at one time —

I know I still do.

But that’s not really3
what I’m talking about here.

(I got nothing at all to say
about the Dallas Cowboys,

…. at least since Tom
Landry was coach,

and we can always discuss
porno movie posters at another juncture… )

Previous to the 1940’s,

— the most popular kind of collectible dealing with cheerleaders had to do with colleges.

it’s all about school spirit, ya know.

Raah raah,
sis boom bah,
and all that.

Actually, a very famous pin-up artist got his start doing these kinds of pieces–

for postcards, cigarette
cards, and the like…

Earl Christy.1

Born in 1882, in Philadelphia,
he was drawing at a very early age.

He was only 17
when he sold a series of illustrations
of ‘All American College Girls’ —

(featuring mostly
Ivy League colleges )
to the Atlantic City Boardwalk Picture Company.

These were eventually published as collectible cards
by the J. Hoover and Sons Calendar Company,
also of Philadelphia.

(if you look closely,
you might also notice that ole Earl
mighta had a thing for ermine and exotic furs. )

Christy was a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts in 1907 —

During his time there,

he obtained a commission
to draw another series of ami
feminine college boosters
for publication as postcards —

— this time by the U.S. Postcard Company.

These, published in 1905,
became his first widely
distributed work —

and the popularity of
those cards
became quite a boon
to Christy’s career.

He went on to create
some classic pin-up art,

and created covers
and illustrations
for some of the 1930’s era
most iconic magazines,

Modern Screen,
Pictorial Review,
Popular Songs,
Radio Stars,
Screen Album,
and Screen Romances.

Widely regarded for
his stylized, romantic style,

his work has appeared
on media ranging from:

posters to sheet music,
pulp magazines to boxes,
jigsaw puzzles to programs,
coasters to cups,
advertising to china,earlchristy
textiles to textbooks.

Christy died at age 78,
after a prolific
artistic career,

and is remembered as
the illustrator
who created the image
of the 1900’s
‘All American Girl’.


! HOY !