When I first came to Brooklyn, I was already coveting high-ball glasses, Japanese tea sets and square collared dresses, but I had no idea of the wealth of yesteryear that awaited me across that two tiered bridge I’d so readily call home. My blatant pursuit to keep things modern with a ‘tinge of vintage’ has been well served here on this side of the river.
My first year here, that first boy-of-my-dreams did me one good. He gave me a handmade card, something I’ve long discarded for the sentimental karma it was vibing on me, and he gave me this, blank and pure as the mind that designed it:
“I wanted to give you two, because I bought that one and then I thought maybe you’d want to keep it fresh for your card box*…. so I made you another one.”
*card-box was something my mother had kept from me my entire life, withholding but also indoctrinating me with this phrase, ‘When you are a grown up you can have your own card box. This is mine’. My first order of business upon arriving at Pratt was to pierce my lip but then I immediately grabbed a shoe box and carefully placed the six 99 cent cards I’d selected at the Bodega on Hall Street in its tissue lined void.
I chided the boy at the time, reassuring him that I would have loved him to scrawl upon its blank space, time will always tell. I now appreciate that I didn’t have to burn it in a Pantas Hall dorm room trash can on Myrtle Ave. along with an oversized sweatshirt, a matchbook full of concert passes, and volumes of sketches he’d made for a tattoo I luckily never got. OK but that’s neither here nor there, let’s return to the thing. Afterall, the play’s the thing. This single card incited a riot of emotion in me, and thus began my vintage collection of paper love.
Over the last decade I have gleefully thumbed through boxes at estate sales, in friend’s basements, vintage shops on the Bowery and dusty tombs of warehouses to expand this collection of paper. Here are the first few I grabbed off the top. I was going to show you my entire collection. I have roughly 50 cards that I have deemed worthy to enter my stores, but we’ll save them for later, and in the meantime,
When it comes to this collection I prefer for things to be whackjob weird. I love this bit copyright
1970 1950 featuring a magical mixer man and his bong water stew. Haha, seriously though, WTF? I love that this is a nod to the acid parties 27 Nadine surely huffed blow at two decades later.
Initially I only collected cards that had been preserved and never actually bestowed upon anyone. Now I relish cards that were given on special days. I thrill at cards that simply ready ‘to: mother’ or ‘your favorite brother, Paul’ I think they bring good-good karma into my little Court Street Penthouse.
One such card, totally enjoyable to me is this, which reads,
‘Dear LuAnna, I hope you like the dress if you you dont and it dont fit you can give it to Bettie that is if it is to small or some thing love Gramma’
I love the stories that you can imagine coming with them sixty years ago. I have always wanted to see that dress. Was it awful? Beautifully handmade? Did Bettie get it or would LuAnna rather die than see her younger raven-haired half sister don its folds? sigh.
I own my own stamp company and I am lucky to have clients with infinite amounts of talent that they use to design their own brilliant cards. The intricate things they manage to make floor me and my childlike sensibilities. Oddly the thing that impresses me about my vintage collection is how simple it is. Like most in the box, this entire card is just one cotton mesh piece of paper. Somehow and some how it’s managed in fairly great condition since 1952.
This card is of course my favorite. It’s this style that best inspires me as it’s totally Mary Blair and what more could you want in an object you own?
I sometimes marvel at the production budgets for these babies. As a licensing artist I’m hard pressed to find clients that actually want to die-cut a simple paper card. This one is so much better for it! However that talk could just be the face in the center of this flower luring me in. If faced with this little flower girl at your local Woolworths how could you resist?
Sitting smack on top of my vintage *card box were a sampling of the collection of ‘Cards to be Given at the Coming of Age 12’ Apparently there is no greater thing that can happen to you in 1955. Turning twelve is a catalyst.
There are even more of these ‘Now you are 12’ cards to come. They almost universally picture a cute blonde boy in some way administering to a lovely little girl at the threshold of womanhood. They make me think maybe we’re not all growing up so fast after all. 😉
This one really hurt my heart and I thought it would be nice to end today’s
show and tell with a somber nod to sympathy.
NOT. <– I know that the decade of Wayne and Garth is over but I refuse to let it go…
This draw-a-tear painting is a BIRTHDAY card!
Having been working to find a foot hold with American Greetings for the last four years and being told on one occasion that they love my work but that it’s just ‘too cheery’ I have to thank goodness that the person in charge of their Occasions department in 1962 isn’t running it today.
So that’s the first dip into the *cardbox. What did your mother have that you coveted. What do you have now because of it? Or, can you remember the reason why the year you turned 12 was so HUGE?! Or any other wisdom you wish to impart on me. xoxo