In between setting up for our annual Halloween Haunted Attraction, Eric and I, along with the help of Kaiya and Michael Jaffe, have accomplished two things for the Waterfowl Stamps and More website. First, in a continuation from the last post regarding the new galleries – we have finished updating the Catalog of U.S. Non-Pictorial Waterfowl Stamps.
This included adding recent discoveries, such as the 1941 Marion County Water Fowl Stamp error (see Figure 1), several entirely new series (Michigan Managed Waterfowl Area Passbook Stamps, Minnesota Special Canada Goose Stamps and the recent Wyoming Special Goose and Light Goose Management Stamps) as well as parts of series where the state has shifted from printing pictorial to non-pictorial waterfowl stamps (Arizona, Vermont and West Virginia).
In the case of the latter, the earlier pictorial stamps have also been listed for the purposes of context and having the series number for the later non-pictorial issues be accurate. This step in the process (phase three outlined in the previous blog) at once completes the step of updating the non-pictorial waterfowl stamp catalog listings and also represents a segue, if you will, toward listing the remaining pictorial state waterfowl stamps.
At that point (scheduled for late next spring) all recorded federal, state and local – to include tribal – waterfowl stamps will be listed and, whenever possible, valued in the various Waterfowl Stamps and More online catalogs. Then, in a major development, the venerable Catalog of of U.S. Non-Pictorial Waterfowl Stamps will be superseded by a new Catalog of State and Local Waterfowl Stamps and the torch will be passed to Scott in our continuing effort to make all of the major catalogs that list U.S. waterfowl stamps as up-to-date and accurate as possible.
Before moving on to our Halloween treat, let me add that when updating the listings, we removed a few of the values for rare and expensive non-pictorial stamps that have not changed hands for an extended period of time (10-20 years). The consensus opinion among our staff and those collectors we work closely with is that the deleted values were irrelevant and, potentially, misleading.
The Winsch Halloween Postcards
John Winsch was a publisher of high quality picture postcards during the height of the “postcard craze” that swept the world during the early part of the 2oth century. Winsch got his start as a clerk for the Art Lithographic Publishing Company in New York shortly after the turn of the century. By 1907 he had become co-manager of the company and is said to have held this position until 1915.
However, what Winsch became famous for is his own line of picture postcards that he produced between 1910 and 1915. He copyrighted over 4,000 different cards during this time and employed several of the leading postcard artists of the day; most notably, Samuel L. Schmucker (see Figure 2) who created the Winsch Girl.
Samuel Schmucker was born on February 20, 1879 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Schmucker had the misfortune of developing polio as a child and this led to his right (dominant) arm becoming crippled for life. However, this condition would not hold him back from pursuing his one great passion – art.
According to Samuel L. Schmucker – The Discovery of His Lost Art by Jack Davis and Dorothy Ryan, he eventually enrolled at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Pennsylvania before moving on to the Howard Pyle Institute at Drexel, where he studied under the acclaimed American artist and teacher by the same name (some of Pyle’s other notable students included Maxfield Parrish, Jessie Wilcox Smith and N.C Wyeth, among many other others).
According to Davis and Ryan, “Schmucker is recognized by most deltiologists (collectors of picture postcards) as the best American postcard artist from the Golden Age of postcards, c1898-1915.” He is, perhaps, best known for creating the Schmucker Girl for the Detroit Art Publishing Company prior to working for Winsch. The Schmucker Girl was a fantasy, dream-like creature that was frequently portrayed as one with nature (see Figures 3, 4 and 5), done in the Art Nuveau style popular in the Belle Epoque that began around 1890 and ended with World War I in 1914.
Some of the artists who contributed to this decorative art form were Louis Tiffany, Alphonse Mucha (graphic arts) and Rene Lalique (glassware). Much of the most important work in Art Nuveau was created by European artists and Samuel Schmucker is exceptional in art history for his American contributions to the movement, mainly while designing postcards for the Detroit Publishing Company.
The card below, from the same set as the original in Figure 3, is frequently cited as one of the best examples of American Art Nuveau. The woman, set in front of a large golden orb and clutching a cross to her chest, is metamorphosing into a butterfly with stained glass wings.
The following card, arguably Samuel Schmucker’s most beautiful image created for the Detroit Publish Company, personifies his goal of portraying women as one with nature. In this rare view (featuring one of Schmucker’s Detroit beauties facing the viewer) she represents a mermaid and is juxtaposed with a very unattractive fish, which Schmucker aptly referred to as a “Toad Fish,” ostensibly one of her lovers.
1911 – The First Set
While Schmucker’s earlier work for Detroit Publishing was amazing and a joy to behold, it is the art Schmucker subsequently created for John Winsch – specifically his Halloween postcard designs – that I wish to shine a light on in today’s blog. While I am not really an expert in Halloween postcards (there thousands of collectors, worldwide, who specialize in this form of cardboard eye candy), I do have a large postcard collection which includes many better (rare) Halloween postcards and lots of others that are just great fun. In the spirit of Halloween (my favorite holiday and time of the year) I would like to share some of these with you today.
The Schmucker postcards published by Detroit, while produced using exquisite chromolithography, were flat. This format lent itself to presenting the delicate, curvilinear artwork without distraction.
In contrast, the Halloween postcards that Schmucker became famous for designing when working for Winsch were heavily embossed, produced for Winsch in the finest postcard “factories” located in Germany prior to WW I (after which many of these factories were converted to arms and munitions plants and subject to allied bombing). The embossing – often combined with the bold use of color – compliments and accentuates Schmucker’s incredible fantasy designs.
The first two sets of Schmucker Halloween postcards (each comprised of six cards) were published by Winsch in 1911 and 1912 and these contain many of Samuel Schmucker’s most iconic postcard designs. The first card I would like to share is a consensus favorite among Halloween postcard collectors and features a lovely witch, surrounded by goblins in various colors. “A Happy Halloween” takes advantage of perfect composition, with one of the famous Winch Girls staring directly forward, to transfix and captivate the viewer (see Figure 6).
The next card is my own personal favorite Schmucker / Winsch Halloween postcard. In “Halloween Time”, Schmucker created an enchanting fantasy, complete with the requisite beautiful Winch Girl, this time with her head on her pillow and surrounded by fairies and goblins who compete with each other for attention in her dreams (see Figure 7).
Throughout the oeuvre of Winsch Halloween postcards, there are many varieties to be discovered (not unlike stamp collecting). The 1911 set of six cards each comes with a companion variety from a subsequent printing (lacking the copyright information at the bottom). Aside from the copyright, the main difference is that the the title and verse in the lower portion of the card is printed all in green – as opposed to the multicolored lettering used to print the original set. In addition, the overall color scheme is more muted (see Figure 8).
Note: When you are viewing the gallery you will notice that I only could find five of the six varieties above. Therefore, I substituted yet another variety in it’s place; an example of “On Halloween” which has the copyright information – but in gold instead of green ink. In addition, the reds are darker and the blue is lighter. Halloween postcard specialists will no doubt be familiar with this variety.
In later years, Winsch would recombine design elements from different sets that he had already published (and even different artists) to come up with new postcards for sale. When you get to the link for the Halloween Postcard Gallery at the end of this blog, you can play a little game; as you scroll through the gallery – see how many of the cards include elements from my favorite card. Hint: instead of “Where’s Waldo”, it will be “Where are the fairies!”
1912 – The Second Set
The second Schmucker Halloween set, copyrighted by John Winsch in 1912, was similar to the first, however, there are subtle differences in style. Schmucker’s artwork contains noticeably fewer traces of Art Nuveau whimsey, the use of large orbs (an influence of Dante Rossetti and a carry-over from his Detroit days) is minimized, the color scheme for the set is bolder – making more use of red ink – and the cards exhibit greater contrast.
In short, Schmucker / Winsch were beginning to transition to a more typical Halloween faire, featuring eye-catching witches and a large pumpkin creature (see Figures 9, 10 and 11).
1913 – The Mask Set
For 1913, Winch release two sets of Halloween postcards featuring artwork by Schmucker. The first was a traditional six card set, which contains another universal favorite, “A Halloween Nightmare.” The card features a beautiful Winch Girl at it’s center; she is surrounded by a multitude of Halloween horrors, including an owl, a bat, a witch, a clown, a black cat and some evil looking? frogs and toads – making it is easy for the viewer to sympathize with her predicament. The card also benefits from a very pleasing composition and a soft, almost pastel-like color palette (see Figure 12).
Less typical and infinitely more interesting, is the second set of four cards. This is usually referred to as “The Mask Set” or, sometimes, simply “Faces.” Aside from the uncommon artwork, the set is of considerable interest to collectors for the varieties Winch created in later years (no copyright dates) making use of Schmucker’s original design elements (see Figures 13, 14 and 15).
Jason Frexeis was another artist whose work John Winsch used to produce some of their best Halloween Postcards, both alone and in combination with the work of Samuel Schmucker. In the case of the latter, Winsch cobbled together designs using elements from both artist’s previous work, as in Figure 15 above.
Little is known about Freixas today, however, we do know that his artistic style was very different from that of Samuel Schmucker’s. Where as Schmucker’s work frequently featured attractive women (the Schmucker Girls and the Winsch Girls above), Freixas art usually featured cherubic children – both boys and girls ( see Figures 16 and 17).
Occasionally, Winsch’s “cobbling” – most likely inspired by the need for new product during or immediately after WW I, when original art was hard to come by – produced a masterpiece of Halloween postcard art (see Figure 18).
There are additional examples of the varieties John Winsch produced by recombining / recycling design elements from previously published cards located throughout the gallery. These varieties help to make this topic a favorite pastime among picture postcard collectors and Halloween enthusiasts. In much the same way as collecting fish and game stamps – it is a true thrill-of-the-hunt adventure!
I hope you have enjoyed this introduction to our Halloween Postcard Gallery Treat. Now it is time for me to go back outside and work on our haunted attraction – I hear there will be lots of kids to scare this year and, hopefully, plenty of adults who remain young at heart! To enter the postcard gallery, click here
Bonus: When putting the Halloween cards back in the bank, I ran across the one shown below. While it was not published by John Winsch, I thought other collectors might enjoy seeing it!
We would like to thank Michael Jaffe, for helping to sort out some pictorial waterfowl stamp details: Mary Martin, for overnighting me a postcard that I originally forgot to get out of my safe deposit box and freeing up two valuable hours for me to work on this blog and Kaiya, for writing some necessary code on very short notice. From all of us at Waterfowl Stamps and More, we wish you all a very safe and Happy Halloween!