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My Vintage Christmas Card Collection and Why Mod Betty Still Sends Christmas Cards

Posted on: December 5, 2012


I found 3 mystery scrapbooks a few years ago at a community thrift sale down the road. Opening them up I discovered a treasure trove of vintage Christmas cards and knew immediately that they’d have to come home with me.
Vintage Christmas Cards Scrapbook 1 / 1
Being a collector, I sometimes find myself collecting other people’s collections. It breaks my heart when I see a collection – of cow creamers, vintage postcards, or anything that someone took the time to amass and curate, just dismissed as stuff to give away – because I know that is probably what will happen to my stuff too one day. Snowdomes, anyone? So when I can, I try to find them a good home.

Like the discarded home movies I “rescued” I want to say, “I think you have value, and the person who created you obviously thought so too. Come home with me, where you’ll be appreciated, you don’t belong in the trash bin!” This is why I stay out of pet stores too… :-)

Now I know that we all could easily be overwhelmed by trying to absorb everyone elses’ collections into our own lives, however, when I find collections that align with my interests, it’s a good fit. Like one man’s treasure is another man’s, trash, one man’s trash is sometimes Mod Betty’s treasure!

Vintage Christmas Cards Scrapbook 1 / 3

I don’t know much of anything about this mystery collector, as only the fronts of these cards were pasted into each page, with no signatures or personalization. Without these easy indicators all I can do is put on my art history major/ Nancy Drew hat and pick up some clues.

Vintage Christmas Cards Scrapbook 1 / 11

The story I have invented so far is that these were cards received in the late 1950s – early 1960s, as the graphic design has the feel of that time frame. And the designs? I’m blown away by the creativity, the detail, the different approaches that were taken with each card.

Vintage Christmas Cards Scrapbook 1 / 6
Knowing especially that they were all done by hand, prior to the advent of computer assisted design programs and online custom card creation, I can’t help but think that certain creative talents like this are being lost to history because of the convenience of the modern computer world.

Vintage Christmas Cards Scrapbook 1 / 14

I’m almost 100% certain that the collector was a man, as many of the cards have images that indicate male dominated interests of that time – golf, fishing and the stock market, among others. Other than that, he’s a mystery guy, who liked these Christmas cards enough to save them and assemble them into books to keep until they were, for whatever reason, no longer in his possession.

Vintage Christmas Cards Scrapbook 1 / 24

I hope that collecting these cards and assembling these books brought joy to Mr. Collector.  Remembering who sent the card, and enjoying the designs, figuring out what cards to paste on what page, and being proud of the final result. I would like to pretend that he brought them out every year, and reminisced about good times past, and that this brought a warm feeling to him.

Vintage Christmas Cards Scrapbook 1 / 5
I know that I like to bring out these scrap books every year, and put them on display for the holidays. Our yearly open house is a bit too crazy for anyone to take the time to sit down and marvel over these beauties, but even the glimpse of them on display makes me feel like we’ve invited the collector to join in on our yearly celebration, and that his work still goes on and is appreciated.

Christmas Card Collection and 3 Wise Kids

What can I say? I’m an old softie, even when it comes to people I’ve never met.

I want him to know somehow that his efforts were not in vain, and that this little legacy, no matter how small, lives on. And don’t we all want to feel that way? That the efforts we make now towards something good, no matter how small, will somehow be remembered and  live on, long after we’ve passed?

Santa Scrapbook Close up

And this is why Mod Betty still sit down every year and hand writes and address Christmas cards to her nearest and dearest.

We all know I’m old fashioned (and I don’t mind it) but I do honestly enjoy Christmas card time.  Looking at how the recipient list has stayed the same mostly, but has changed as the years pass. People move – from house to house, in and out of our lives, and from this mortal coil. During the time spent writing the card and even addressing them, that person is in my thoughts that entire time, wondering how they are and hoping they’re doing well.

Family History

I too save the Christmas cards we receive every year, and bring them out with the Christmas decor! I love to shuffle through them – seeing the photos of the round headed babies from cards from years ago emerge as actual little people. See the handwriting of the relatives that I can recognize immediately from the envelope, and reviewing the annual updates of how folks are doing – the old fashioned yearly pre-”Facebook update”, updates.

And remembering how quickly life passes – round headed babies turn into teens in a blink –  and how we should enjoy and appreciate every moment, no matter how small.

 

Here’s the link to see all of the vintage Christmas Cards in the album!

  • http://vintageroving@wordpress.com jalet

    I love that you rescued these cards from oblivion especially since they were under the ‘instant relative”
    catagory. The way you displayed them on the shelf is crazy perfect! What a treat to see them. They took me back to the top of my grandmothers fireplace shelf, that were filled with similar cards sent to her during the season. As a child., I loved looking at them and all the signatures even before I could read. Your blog is always a fun little trip out of the norm of life. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. _Jalet in ORegon

    • http://retroroadmap.com Mod Betty

      Aw, thanks! I hope my awkward way of putting things still gets the point across :-)

      We’ve got a few instant relatives – the award winning roller skate girl, the wacky foursome of old golfers. I feel like I need to put a note on them to let my actual future generations know that they weren’t “really” a part of our family. But for now they are.!

  • EP

    A wonderful, joyous and creative find on your part, Mod Betty. May I add my “Nancy Drew” sleuthing to yours and submit that perhaps our collector was himself a Santa 2, 3, 5 times in his memorable lifetime? Es posible?!

    Good karma all ’round knowing these enchanting images will be honored and shared in your capable hands.

    • http://retroroadmap.com Mod Betty

      EP – You may have something there? I did notice an overabundance of Santa Clauses in the graphics – perhaps he was indeed a jolly old man himself :-)

  • jeannette

    I found a box at a yard sale for 50 cents wih Christmas cards that were nicely cut around the pictures and the tissue paper that lined the envelopes . I found a postmark with 1939 stamped on one. I just treasure these and I am thankful that some one took the time to cut them out and tuck them away. They look like they could be screen prints. Thanks for sharing yours and for giving me the idea of scrap booking them too!!!

    • http://retroroadmap.com Mod Betty

      Oh, Jeannette – I’m so glad I’m not the only one who sees these things and sees treasure, not trash! Glad you have your own lovely collection. Merry Christmas!

  • http://www.usedyorkcity.com Jess @UsedYorkCity

    These are fabulous, what a fun find! Love how you displayed them, and I’m sure the collector, where ever he may be, would be happy to see them in such caring hands! Happy holidays!:-)

    • http://retroroadmap.com Mod Betty

      Happy Holidays to you as well! I’m trying to devise a different way to display them this year, I’ll let you know if I come up with anything!

  • http://thevintagetraveler.wordpress.com/ Lizzie

    Is there a Santa in every card? And that guy must have had a lot of friends to have gotten that many cards over a relatively small number of years !

    It does makes a super display.

    • http://retroroadmap.com Mod Betty

      I’ll have to check to see if there is an actual Santa on every card – there sure are a whole lot of ‘em! And this was just one of the 3 scrapbooks!

  • Barbara

    Tonight I discovered a sack of Christmas cards addressed to my Grandfather and his first wife in 1949 and 1950. I did not know he had been married before my grandma. I was in their wedding when I was 3, 60 years ago. These cards I find so charming, and recall great times sitting with my grandma in the early 60s glueing them into scrapbooks for kids in hospitals. Perhaps the scrapbooks you found were for a similar purpose?

    One of my favorite treasures of Grandma is one last scrapbook she and I made together, which never got given away to a local hospital here in Oakland CA. What is interesting about me and cards is that as a kid I sold them, door-to-door, then my last job before retiring a few years ago, was as a supervisor for Hallmark Cards!!

    My suggestion is to keep the cards in the albums. I can’t think of any other way to really protect them. Do invite friends over for Christmas cookies and to look at albums together.

    I may be selling this bag of cards, with 3-cent stamps on them. Mom is 90 and there’s way too much stuff in her house and garage to keep. One other interesting note…I also have found stock certificates and letters from my gr.gr.gr.grUncle, who died as Major General under President Lincoln! It’s amazing what treasures I’m finding, and the family history I never knew. Mom is fading quickly and has Alzheimer’s so I can’t ask her about all these treasures.

    • http://retroroadmap.com Mod Betty

      Barbara – isn’t it crazy what you discover when you’re going through someone’s old stuff! I recall learning a few things about my fam that I had not known before, simply from a casual photo showing up.

      I never even thought that the scrapbooks would be for children in hospitals, but you could be right- I love how you have fond memories about putting them together with your gram. We’re definitely keeping the cards in these ones, and our pals loved perusing the albums during our annual holiday party.

      It is a heartbreak when you realize how many stories will leave this mortal coil when someone’s memory goes, or they pass. My dad had forever been the family historian, and it was devastating to realize that his memory was going with the illness that finally took him. I only hope he didn’t realize it. That being said, you and I should be writing down all we can, for future generations!

      Thanks so much for swinging by Retro Roadmap and sharing your story!

      xo Mod Betty