Friday, December 28, 2012

to ye future


A Happy New Year to you! I hope your Christmas was wonderful. 

I love this week in between Christmas and New Years. There is really not too much you can do. Too early to put decorations away (I like having them up for New Years), you can take your time putting away gifts, finishing off the Christmas cookies and enjoying your new books and movies. 

Here are a couple of New Years postcards I am very fond of. Here's to 2013! May it have lots of wonderful and joyous surprises.


Today is Postcard Friendship Friday. You can visit Beth's blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and see more posts from postcard blogs, most likely with a New Years theme.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas

Thanks to any and all of you who check in here at The Cedar Chest or buy something at the store. Collecting and selling ephemera is truly a labor of love and I so enjoy sharing it with like minded people. Hope your festivities are just the way you like them.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Bigness of Christmas in the 1950's

I read something recently in the book Christmas Memories by Susan Waggoner that astonished me  about Christmas in the 1950's.

To all of us who were born after the huge surge of babies, known as the Baby Boom, that mainly occurred from 1946-1960, I think it's hard to really grasp how huge it all was. So let me tell you, it was a lot - a lot of babies, a lot of new houses in the suburbs, a lot of money due to the low unemployment and the low rise of inflation and a lot of buying.

There were a record amount of new families that were now settling into larger houses in the suburbs. These houses needed to be filled and they had the money to do it. 

When Christmas came families didn't just get one tree for the main room, they now got extra trees for throughout the house. And gifts were no longer just one per person, people began giving multiple gifts, especially to the children. The children of the 1950's had everything on their Christmas list and then some (which explains why many of them later rebelled against their upbringing and claimed to not care about material things). In the 1950's there was no reason not to give and receive all you wanted. The average family was much better off than they had been before or during the WWII and Americans just wanted to have fun now that the war was over and the U.S. had won.

I knew all this before I read Waggoner's book, but I don't think I really grasped how much disposable income there was back then until I read that in 1951 Macy's ran a full page ad in the New York newspaper asking people not to buy so much. Can you imagine a store doing this?

People were buying huge amounts of stuff and coming back and buying more. The popular department store was unnerved by how much people were buying. They were questioning their motives. They were genuinely concerned that people were still in wartime shortages mode. They ran an ad that said in part the following:

This excerpt from the ad came from the Christmas Memories book. I wish I could find a copy of the actual ad, but it doesn't appear that one is online.

Again, I ask, can you imagine any store doing this or saying it? It is an amazing piece of history that seems to have been forgotten. I think the words that Macy's said in this ad are very wise and kind. The amounts people were buying most have been so bizarre to them to do this. 

When I lived in the Bay Area and worked at a specialty clothing store, a woman who looked like she couldn't afford much came in. She was a little strange, but pleasant. She began pulling aside clothes she wanted and at the end of it her bill was about three times bigger than any sale I had ever heard of at the store, much less sold. It was weird. I was trying to talk her out of things. It was just uncomfortably too much. I felt really weird about it. And of course I was concerned with how she was going to pay for it. She went to the bank and came back with the cash (It turned out she was from a well off family and she later admitted to me that she didn't like to bother with having her clothes washed).

Because of this experience I can kind of understand how Macy's felt and I now understand more clearly what a financial and material boom the Fifties were. 

I've been researching the Fifties particularly because it's the family theme this Christmas. Every year we have a theme for Christmas. It's often a decade, but it can sometimes be a country. Some of the ones we've done are the 1930's, Medieval times, the 1960's, the Old West and countries like Holland, Hungary and Switzerland. We base the meal, music and games around the theme and we dress up. I know it's kind of kooky, but it's very fun and we all enjoy a theme.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Cards 1950's

Christmas cards have been around since the 19th century, but they didn't really begin to challenge the postcard in popularity until the 1920's. The sale of Christmas cards over postcards increased each decade. Even during the depression Christmas cards were favored over the less expensive postcard. But, it wasn't until the 1950's that Christmas card sending reached it's peak.

In 1950's the country was thrilled to be done with war, it was a new optimistic decade and there were many families in the suburbs with more space and money then they'd ever had. Christmas was now a bigger event and so was the sending of Christmas cards.

Christmas cards in the 1950's were generally brightly colored, light-hearted and joyful. Hallmark introduced a line of comic Christmas cards during this time that were popular. Christmas cards were sent to everyone people knew: family, neighbors, friends, bridge club members, school faculty, co-workers and old buddies from the war. The lists were long and it was a lot to keep track of.
2 separate Christmas Card Record books

During this time many products were created to display, store and keep records of a person's card sending. I have a couple of these organization booklets shown here that were given away from M&M Savings in Springfield, Ohio.

back of record book

inside of Christmas Card Record

Christmas card sending reached a peak in 1958 in the U.S. and it's never since been matched.

Do you send Christmas cards? I love the tradition of sending them and receiving them. I like to have them displayed. It's certainly something that has faded over the years, but I hope it will always continue.

Here are a few more Christmas cards from the 1950's. Maybe they'll get you in the mood to send some Christmas cards.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

1920's Christmas

I recently checked out a couple of books by Susan Waggoner about Vintage Christmas. In the book Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas  Waggoner goes through the decades form the 20's to the 60's and talks about the different trends and historical changes to the Christmas tradition. I really enjoyed reading it and learned a lot. I will say though that I think Waggoner is a little out of touch with some things since she grew up in New York and I assume she is using her and her families experience as well as magazines of the time. Most of the country was not quite as sophisticated or got trends at a later date. My mother and I looked at it together and she made this observation.

My favorite part of the book is the author going through and talking about the different trends in Christmas cards and decorating  I've always been so aware of motifs or whatever they would be called. I noticed them and sought them out when no one else I knew did. 

Thanks to this book, however, I found out a lot more about which objects were trendy for postcards and greeting cards for each decade. This is very helpful to me in dating them, since they often don't have dates on them. Mostly my hunches were right, but it's nice to know the reasons why.

For example, many of the Christmas postcards I find have old Dickens style images. These were very popular in the 1920's. The war was finally over and people wanted to think about the simpleness of the olden days. Because of this desire for an "old fashioned" Christmas the popular images of the time were Dickens style street scenes, lanterns and old style lamps, hearths and candles (the Christmas tree doesn't really become popular on Christmas cards until the 1950's).

The colors popular in the 1920's were very unconventional and became more so as the decade progressed. Red was very popular, but green was seldom seen. There was lots of metallic gold and many cards were multi-colored. At the beginning of the decade the colors were often in pastel hues.

However, as the 1920's roared along the colors just got brighter and more vibrant. I find the cards from this time so captivating.

Children were a popular icon from this time and were shown way more than Santa. 

I hope you liked learning a little more about the Christmas trends from the 1920's. All of these cards are available in my Etsy shop.