Weird Victorian Christmas Cards

Victorians had some odd habits, one of which was to send each other Christmas cards which were, to put it mildly, a little weird.

Because I collect vintage ephemera, as well as sell it and use it to make reproduction items, I’ve long been fond of cataloging some of the odder Victorian cards. Many use animals in anthropomorphic poses doing unexpected things.

Some I’ve purchased, some just done screen shots of, because they can be hideously expensive, and I can only justify spending so much on a 100+ year old piece of paper, no matter how fantastic and bizarre.

I’ve made the ones I’ve purchased into repro items in my Etsy shop, but thought I’d post a gallery of some of those which have tickled my fancy the most.

This is one of my favorites, The Kindly Robin, which shows a prosperous bird family donating to some downtrodden beggar birds:
Another of my favorites is The Dancing Owls with their frog footman, carrying a roast mouse for their holiday feast: WMNew Year Owls 200

Then there’s The Owl and the Pussycat, in a more morbid twist of that phrase:

And these three Fish Eating Dinner:

Victorians had a particular passion for plum pudding, as in The Jesters card shows:

And this great card showing the Robin Cook and the Plum Pudding:
Now here are some really odd ones (which I did not purchase and which I have not retouched or cleaned up in any way), a gallery for your amusement:

A bee wearing an apron and a bizarre flower with a big nose:

A fish who’s been fishing.

A blind man about to be run down by a runaway horse in the road:

Ducks ice skating:

Stingray fishermen. What more is there to say?

And there’s a whole subset of these cards devoted to insects. Here are a few:




And best of all, insects dancing with a frog. Gotta love it!

I hope these odd beauties have given you pleasure, enjoy the holiday season!

Customer Creations

One of the most fun things I can do with my vintage images is print them onto a special kind of fabric which is designed to be printed on using an inkjet printer.

I sell these finished fabric blocks as supplies in my Etsy store KatyDids Fabrics. And some of my customers are kind enough to share the items they make with them with me. Some even then sell the finished items on Etsy, which is really cool.

Here’s one lovely bag a customer made with one of my fabric blocks:


You can purchase this bag in her store Belle Epoque Creations, which is full of clever and lovely handmade items of all sorts.

Another customer made a throw pillow with a fabric block she purchased from me, which I love (we’re big fans of cows here on the farm.)


And another customer even upholstered a chair with one of my fabric blocks! (I am not at all skilled at upholstering and am in awe of those who are.)


These are just a few ideas of things that can be done with my fabric blocks, stop by my store and check them out.

The Lost Art of the New Year’s Card

A hundred years ago and more, people sent each other cards wishing good fortune and prosperity in the coming new year. Often these cards were postcards, and contained various elements meant to represent luck and wealth. Commonly used items include: four leafed clovers or shamrocks; bags of money; ladybugs; red-spotted mushrooms (Amanita muscaria); angels, fairies, or gnomes; pigs; and of course, champagne.

WM Ladybugs 1b

A New Year’s Day card originally published in Belgium, from which I have made a reproduction card

In the US we seem to have lost the habit of sending cards for New Year’s Day, but those in Europe continue to do so. My cousin C., who spent part of his childhood in France and who travels there as often as he can, has a whole group of friends to whom he sends cards for New Year’s.

The French, in particular are still fond of sending cards for New Year’s Day, and many of the vintage postcards I have in my collection are from France, although the Scandinavian countries come a close second behind the French in this regard.

WMNerman 1a

A dual-purpose card by Einar Nerman, of Sweden, circa the ’20s.

Often cards from Sweden or Denmark are combination Christmas and New Year’s Day cards. They are the ones most likely to have pigs in them, for some reason it seems a popular tradition.

The Victorian English had their New Year’s cards too, and they were often some of the oddest. Several bloggers have posted about them, and are well worth the reading and viewing. Margaret Buffie has a wonderful collection of them on her blog (mostly Christmas, but some dual holiday.) She and I have several of the same cards in our collections.

One of my personal favorites in the whimsical/odd categories is this one, with a group of owls wishing us the compliments of the season as they dance under a full moon, accompanied by a frog footman who is carrying a roast mouse for their holiday supper.

WMNew Year Owls 200

There really seems no end to the wonderful images that are found on vintage New Year’s cards, and I hope to expand my offerings of reproduction cards for that holiday soon. For those of you who still send cards for holidays, (or enjoy them as prints and other items), do stop by and check out my Etsy store, where I have hundreds of wonderful reproductions of vintage images available.

Fun With Stickers!

My mom and her sister have always collected stickers, along with greeting cards (and other things, of course.)

Recently I’ve branched out into creating stickers with the vintage images I use in my Etsy store, and I’m having so much fun with it!


It took a while to get the right sticker stock, and program to make them. Usually I use InDesign, but this time went with a program by Avery, who makes the sticker stock I’m using.

Right now I’m staying with a simple 1.5″ round sticker for my designs, but at some point might branch out to do kiss-cut stickers, which will require the purchase of something like a Cricut machine. I need to evaluate how they do in my market before making that leap.

But for now, I’m really enjoying the process of putting my images on sticker stock, and the only problem is deciding which ones to do first!

Valentine’s Day Cards – Show Your Love!

Last year my Aunt D (my biggest fan and supporter) grumbled that I didn’t have enough depth and breadth in my Valentine’s Day cards in my Etsy shop. So for about the past month I’ve been working hard to get some new items in there for her to buy.

Greeting Card from Vintage PostcardOne of my favorites is a card I made from a vintage French real photo postcard. It shows a studio shot of a little girl posed as if she’s sitting in a chimney on a rooftop during a snowstorm. The photographer dressed her in a set of adorable wings, and then after printing the photo, hand colored it to add bits of gold and color to her outfit. As an image I find it simply wonderful, especially with the expression on her face.

1920s Owl Card

My Aunt D is also very fond of Valentines from the 1920s or so, and I’ve been working on some of those for her as well. As I went through my collection of same, I found one that had been my mom’s before she died, and which was clearly intended for my aunt and uncle (they all share a love of owls, long family story.) So I cleaned it up in Photoshop and listed it as a card for her, so cute!

I hope you’ll all send your loved ones a real paper card for Valentine’s Day. Email cards are all very well and good, but nothing shows your love like a real card, hand inscribed, and dropped in the mail. See my store for lots more cards for Valentine’s Day and any other reason you can think of!

Margaret Tarrant Fairies

I’ve added some adorable cards and fabric blocks to my Etsy stores by artist Margaret Tarrant this week. She was a wonderful illustrator who is most well-known for her Flower Fairies, but she also did a whole series of fairy books, including Forest Fairies, House Fairies, and Seashore Fairies.

The items I added this week are from the Forest Fairies book, and include two images with fairies and mushrooms. The first shows a Forest Fairy holding an elf cup mushroom up to a small spider, offering it a drink.WP Elf Cup 1b

The second shows a pair of Forest Fairies and two Elves who are painting a large red mushroom. One of the elves is taking a nap, and is getting paint dripped on him!

WP Paint Pots 1b

Both of these can be seen as greeting cards in my Etsy store KatyDids Cards, and as fabric blocks in my Etsy store KatyDids Fabrics.

I look forward to adding more of Tarrant’s work to my stores soon, be sure to stop by and check for them.

Rackham in Wonderland

Over about the past year or so in my Etsy shops, I’ve expanded my reach a bit from reproductions of the original postcards and Victorian trade cards I was using, and am now including items made from vintage book illustrations from the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Of course I’m including some of the classics: Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Charles Robinson and the like, as well as some lesser-known artists including Félix Lorioux, Milo Winter, and Willy Pogany. 

Lately I’ve been focusing on Rackham. Ever since childhood I’ve been a fan of Rackham’s illustrations, due to the collection of antique books my parents had. One of my favorites was the Alice in Wonderland book, for which he did the illustrations in 1907. So for the past several weeks I’ve been working on a suite of Wonderland cards and fabric blocks in my Etsy stores. 

His work is so distinctive, and will always be the Alice I see in my mind when I think of her:

The Mad Hatter's Tea PartyAlthough I’ve loved the various Alice movies over the years (and especially liked Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter), Rackham’s rendering of Wonderland will always be my favorite.

Stop by my Etsy card store, KatyDids Cards or fabric shop KatyDids Fabrics to see more Rackham Alice in Wonderland items I have available.