On Saying It With Greeting Cards (1932)

On Saying It With Greeting Cards, Hannah Hinsdale

Collectors of the future, the kind of folk who now pay huge prices for Currier and Ives’  prints, will have a grand time assembling the greeting cards, so common in this year of grace.

About 2000 A.D. the magazines will have delightful stories about the quaint 1932 custom of celebrating everything from the cradle to the grave by the exchange of a colored card, richly decorated and printed.

Its literary content will come in for more comment. The wise writer will puzzle over an era which could at once produce a Mencken magazine and an Edgar Guest greeting card!

For such popular poets as Edgar Guest reap a rich harvest from the card manufactures. Seth Parkers is another contributor to human happiness in card form. The highest tribute yet paid the greeting industry is the appearance of Mickey Mouse among the violets and roses of their honeyed rhymes.

*  *  *

The intrusion of the Mickey Mouse humour on the shelves, full of sentimentality, is dangerous. Mickey may undermine the whole idea. The whole mixture of twaddle and romance may be gnawed away by that wise rodent.

The 1932 greeting card does not know it but it is descendant of a mixed ancestry. A product of the old comic valentine and the mortuary card of our grandmothers, its wit is from the old comics, its sorrow from the gold and black cards which used to be sent out in memory of the departed.

Those cards wee about the size of a caibnet photograph and were of black, embossed or printed in gold. Decorated with gold weeping willows, harps or urns, they were too sad to last. Human nature and taste revolted from such gilded woe.

It is strange that it is a relief to so many people to have every kind impulse told for them. There is no need for any effort to express yourself when for the modest expenditure of a nickel or two-bits, if you feel expansive, you may hail any human relationhip, event, catastrophe or sickness by a small card.

It may be decorated with a caricature or an Easter lily. It may be extremely modern or extremely Victorian in thought, but it saves you mental effort of every sort. all you have to do is to put the card in an envelope, write the address and lick a stamp.

Simple, safe and sure!

Beginning at birth, the baby is snowed under with a flutter ocards announcing his arrival. The stork is an old notion and not too much used today. A paper nutshell folder with a luckless infant enclosed tells all “in a nutshell.”

A two-page volume of a card is entitled, “Our Baby Book, First Edition.” Or a tiny caravel with no apologies to Dickens states: “Our ship’s come in with a precious cargo.”

*  *  *

You are advised by a wide slogan: “Tomorrow is somebody’s birthday.” One born every minute you remember!

“Send a birthday card today.” You stagger under the variety offered for your choice.

“Happy birthday, Auntie,” Micky Mouse unfolds a large brown paper greeting, extending himself into a happy birthday large enough to paper the side of a room. Twins are remembered by a verse which bring, “A double share of greetings-of birthday wishes, too!”

You almost can’t bear it.

A wife greets her husband by a small tabloid edition which portrays her affection in the headlines: “Exclusive Interview-Wife Confesses All To You.”

*  *  *

Every year is rememered. The hapless hcild is pursued through the teends with cards. When 21 is reached, the youth may be rewarded y a silver knight on a golden charger, with verses to match. Confirmation, baptism! All are pelted with cards for the occasion.

The old people are congratulated on making a record. Up to the 90s no age is forgotten. You never get too old to escape the greeting cards.

“Thank you” cards, as the slogan tells you, “express your appreciation.” Weddings and engagements are announced through the medium of violet and silver, blue and gold.

*  *  *

Divorce may be ameliorated by a tactful piece of pasteboard which is sent through the mail.

“Glad to hear that it’s all over” is equally useful for an operation as well as a separation.

“All over but the alimony” is not a too cheerful thought for the ex-husband.

The mother-in-law is not forgotten y the printers. My other mother comes in for some of the sluch which almost drowns mother on Mother’s day. A junior leaguer must not be surprised if she gets an embossed greeting: “To a debutante.”

The cards are a league of nations of good will in that they come in German, Swedish and French. No nation is immune from their insidious standardization of human emotion.

* * *

You do not need to write a love letter if you can say by the mere purchase of a card:

“Life’s harmony it seems to me,

Is music passing sweet round theee.”

The author got a dollar for those two lines 50 cents per.

“Although today we’re miles apart,

Your memory lingers in my heart.”

*  *  *

In sickness, as in health, the greeting card, “Please hurry and get well.” is one impassioned plea that may reach you in your first bunch of flowers went to the hospital.

The surgery is sugggested y an artful drawing full of butchers’ saws and carpenters’ horses with the cheerful comment. “Laid up for repairs, eh Do a good job while you are about it”

Blue and gold cards bear the title, “Because you are ill.” and if your case is almost hopeless, you may receive the greeting tenderly titled, “The Cheer-Up Capsule.”

Source: The Spokesman-Review, 1932

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saying It With Greeting Cards .

 

 

 

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2 Responses to On Saying It With Greeting Cards (1932)

  1. Hi Evelyn,
    I am the world’s only Christmas cracker historian and was interested to read the piece you recently posted concerning a trip that Charles Dickens took around the Tom Smith cracker factory in London in 1888. For my own historical interest, I would like to ask you some questions about this article and was wondering if you would initially be kind enough to contact me on:

    With best wishes – Peter Kimpton

  2. Hi Evelyn,

    I am writing again as I have a feeling my first message didn’t get through. Would you be kind enough to contact me on …. as I would like to ask you a question or two about the article you recently posted concerning Charles Dicken’s visit in 1888 to the Tom Smith cracker factory in london.

    With best wishes – Peter Kimpton (Norwich, England).

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