• You'd Better Watch Out: Krampus Is Coming to Town You've heard the rumor that Santa Claus will leave a lump of coal, possibly some switches, for children who rank on his "naughty" list. But did you know that before the 20th century, old Saint Nick—that is, the European St. Nikolaus—had a devil sidekick do his dirty work? Krampus, a furry, horned, cloven-hooved creature with a disturbingly long tongue, was in charge of filling boots with spanking …
  • Dreaming of a Posh Christmas, in Postcards As a fan of vintage clothing and all things vintage related to Christmas, I naturally seek out vintage Christmas cards that have a fashionable edge. The clothing shown in these vintage card illustrations is often stylized and a bit romanticized, but looking at them, you can still get a good idea of the fashion trends of the day. All of the cards shown here are from the Great Depression of t…
  • Walker Evans, Preeminent Photographer and Passionate Postcard Collector In 1994, I had the great pleasure of acquiring the complete archive of Walker Evans for the Metropolitan Museum. The archive is quite vast, including 30,000 black-and-white negatives and about 10,000 color transparencies. It includes collections of his business and personal correspondence, both letters he sent as well as those he received. It also includes his library and his collections. He had w…
  • Vintage Christmas Ornaments, From Cardboard Dresdens to Silvered Kugels About 42 years ago, my wife, Darla, went to a very large white elephant sale and found a box of antique Christmas ornaments. She thought they were wonderful, so she bought them, and that’s been her passion ever since. Eventually, ornaments became my passion, too. We’ve been collecting for 42 years now. Our collection’s not the biggest or the best, but it’s very nice. We put up 23 antique feathered…
  • The Charms of Christmas Ephemera and the Changing Face of Santa Claus I grew up in a home without any antiques. As a small kid, I started decorating my parents’ home for Christmas. I don’t know what influenced me, perhaps being alone and living in a rural environment might have had something to do with it because I engaged in a lot of fantasy play. I made a lot of ornaments out of stuff that I had lying around, and I decorated using things that I found in the garden…
  • When Postcards Were the Social Network I worked for 35 years as a reference librarian with the Madison Public Library and I just got interested in Madison’s history through my reference work. My husband and I collect antiques of various sorts, and as we would go to antique stores or antique shows in malls, I began looking through boxes of old postcards. I just started buying Madison postcards to learn about Madison history. I’m …
  • A History of Dimestore Christmas Village Houses The following is a history of these wondrous little artifacts called cardboard Christmas village houses - a history devoted to establishing some way of categorizing them and putting them into chronological perspective. It's a tall chore, because these were small-change notions, not expensive nor considered serious enough to impart model numbers, cataloging, and so forth by those who made them. …
  • Attending the Theatre, Via Postcards Andreas Praefcke (Ravensburg, Germany) collects postcards of old and new theatre buildings worldwide. His complete collection can be seen on his website Carthalia. I spoke to him recently about how he got interested in this unique and interesting postcard collecting theme, how he finds cards, and what some of his favorites are. : How did you become interested in collecting postcards featuring T…
  • A Guide to Christmas Antiques and Vintage Christmas Decorations Ever wonder about that box of vintage Christmas decorations in the attic? From wooden nutcrackers to glass Christrmas tree ornaments to 1930’s Lionel model trains, this article can help you identify what vintage or antique Christmas items might be in that box. Your cherished decorations might be valuable, and even if not, you can sure have a whole lot of fun decorating with them! Christmas Trees:…