Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday, and it’s easy to see why. Families and friends come together to stuff themselves with delicious food, express gratitude, and sometimes fall asleep on the couch while watching football on TV.

It’s widely believed that the first Thanksgiving meal was in 1621, shared between the Pilgrims who had settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts and the Wampanoag Indians. Much of the iconography of the vintage Thanksgiving postcards created between 1898 and 1918 comes from the myths surrounding that first Thanksgiving. Images feature Pilgrims in quaint old-fashioned white-and-black garb, pointed hats, white bonnets, and buckled shoes. In contrast, the Indians are often shown as caricatures, barely dressed with brightly colored face paint, feathers, headdresses, and beads. Modern-day historians say none of this is remotely true to the real event.

Turkeys, too, show up in many a vintage Thanksgiving postcards, even though the Pilgrims and Wampanoags didn’t dine on turkey that day, either. Still, it’s hard not to be grateful when you’re present with a turkey feast including pumpkin pie, corn, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a cornucopia of other delights, regardless whether it was on the first Thanksgiving menu.

More than 200 years passed after that first Thanksgiving before a U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln, decided this holiday would be commemorated on the last Thursday of November. Even later still, in 1941, Congress made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday, after a campaign by magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale, who penned the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Even though Victorian Thanksgiving postcards were made by top postcard publishers (Raphael Tuck) and postcard artists (Ellen Clapsaddle), they are possibly the least collected of holiday postcards. This is possibly because the colors and images tend to be more subdued, like a tryptophan-induced coma.

However, Samuel Schumucker, known for his Halloween cards, did some of his very best work for this holiday in cards published by John Winsch. Some of the best Winsch cards have die-cut pop-up parts called projections. The mysterious postcard artist that generally signed his or her illustrations as “H.B.G.” proudly signed two Thanksgiving cards as “H.B. Griggs.”

Some of the most collectible Thanksgiving cards are what’s known as Hold-to-Light cards. These may have an outline of an image covered by thin layers of paper so that a part of the picture only reveals itself when held up to a light. Others simply have die cut stained-glass-window effects using thin pieces of colored paper. Some of the most coveted Thanksgiving cards depict Uncle Sam or Lady Liberty with a turkey.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



Andreas Praefcke's postcard collection of theatres and concert halls worldwide. Showcases 3700 images of over 1810 … [read review or visit site]

Tall Tale Postcards

Tall Tale Postcards

Don't let this one get away from you. This 'unbelievable' collection, from the Wisconsin Historical Society, featur… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Super Thanksgiving Girl W/ Halloween Jol W/ Interior Candle Aglow ~ A True Gem!2 Card Lot, Thanksgiving Holiday, Turkey With Child's Face, Fantasy, J. Winsch!Sam Schmucker Winsch 1911 Thanksgiving Postcard Big Smiley Face Sun Pilgrim LadyLarge Turkey W/ Long Beard~a/s Ellen Clapsaddle~happy Thanksgiving~# 51670~1907+Postcards 90 Vintage Holidays Easter Valentines Red Santa Thanksgiving Halloween94 Vintage Postcards Holidays Greetings Christmas Thanksgiving ValentinesLot Of 66 Antique Embossed Thanksgiving Postcards Patriotic/airbrushed, Etc.Lot Of 4 Ellen Clapsaddle Thanksgiving PostcardsLot Of 4 Vintage Thanksgiving Postcards Huge Turkey Frightening Little Black Girl. Comic Themed. Thanksgiving Pc. Early 1900's Lot Of 15 Thanksgiving Day Postcards Fantastic Group Lot#bs4Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard Turkey Head With Corn 19091 Of 2 Embossed, "a Hearty Thanksgiving", Pilgrim Gent Returning From Hunting...Boy & Girl Feeding Large Tom Turkey~clapsaddle~happy Thanksgiving~1908Vintage Antique Postcard Lot Of 18 Thanksgiving Turkey Early 1900sLot Of 12 Thanksgiving Turkeys Children Boy Girl--antique Vintage Postcards!Lot Of 10 Thanksgiving Turkeys Pumpkins--antique Vintage Postcards!Lot Of 4 Vintage Thanksgiving Postcards Patriotic Thanksgiving Uncle Sam Sitting On Stump Feeding TurkeysVintage Tucks Postcard Thanksgiving "peace & Plenty" Beautiful Women Pumpkin1 Of 2 Embossed, "a Cordial Thanksgiving", Pilgrim Lady Feeding Tom Turkey...1 Card Lot, Thanksgiving, Artist Hbg, Girl Rolling Dough, Dolls Watch, Black!Textured, Gold Card, "thanksgiving Greetings", Young Uncle Sam Riding A Turkey..Embossed,"thanksgiving Greetings", Pretty Young Lady With Tom Turkey,by H Knopf1¢ Wonders ~ Postcard W/ "thanksgiving Greeting" Unused ~ Lot# Pc8451¢ Wonders ~ Thanksgiving Postcard W/ "pilgrim Child And Turkey" ~ Lot# Pc9981¢ Wonders ~ Thanksgiving Postcard W/ "child & Gun Looking At Turkey" ~ Lot# P11¢ Wonders ~ "thanksgiving" Postcard W/ Fall Scene ~ Lot# Pc8881¢ Wonders ~ Thanksgiving Postcard W/ "festive Turkey" ~ #p151Set Lot Of 12 Embossed Antique Vintage Thanksgiving Postcards--near Mint!Vintage Embossed John Winsch Thanksgiving Postcard Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard Raphael Tuck&sons Their Majesties King Queen 190911 Early Thanksgiving Day Post Cards 1910 - 1922Lot Of 4 Ellen Clapsaddle Vintage Thanksgiving Postcards Thanksgiving Pumpkin Turkey Children Around Jack-o-lantern C1910 EmbossedGibson Pumpkin Corn Apples--antique Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard!Lot Of 3 Signed Clapsaddle Thanksgiving--antique Vintage Emb Iapc Postcards!Beautiful 1910 Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard With Turkey Roses FruitTfrances Brundage Thanksgiving Pc Puritan Woman Fall/winterThanksgiving Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir Postal Post Pc1¢ Wonders ~ "thanksgiving" Postcard W/ "child Pulled By Turkey ~ Lot# Pc887Vintage "why I'm Thankful..." Thanksgiving Postcard #326a Nos ExcEmbossed, "thanksgiving Greetings", Big Tom Turkey Looking Gallant & Royal...Embossed, Raphael Tuck & Son, "thanksgiving Day", Tom Turkeys Followed By Hens..Thanksgiving Greetings Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir PostalDr Jim Stamps Us Exaggerated Turkey Thanksgiving Chef Tuck And Sons PostcardDr Jim Stamps Us Girl Feeding Turkeys Thanksgiving Postcard Chicago 1911Dr Jim Stamps Us First Thanksgiving Pilgrim Hall Painting Postcard1¢ Wonders ~ Thanksgiving Postcard W/ "turkey" ~ Lot# Pc9991¢ Wonders ~ Thanksgiving Postcard W/ "flying Turkey" Parcel Post Stamp ~ #p154Thanksgiving Postcard Early Tuck C. 1908 Printed In SaxonyLittle Boy & Big Turkey Us Flag Pull Toy Horse Thanksgiving Patriotic Postcard(25) Vintage Postcards Showing Thanksgiving.Ellen Clapsaddle ~ Sweet Baker Chef Boy ~ Thanksgiving Soup Fruit 1909 PostcardThanksgiving Day Postcard/patriotic/ Uncle Sam At Thanksgiving Dinner /emb Vintage Unused Postcard Thanksgiving Beautiful Indian Maiden Turkey EmbossedLot Of 4 Tuck Vintage Thanksgiving Postcards Lot Of 4 Vintage Thanksgiving Postcards Lot Of 4 Thanksgiving Postcards With Turkeys1907 Postcard / Black Americana / Boys Trying To Get Turkies / Thanksgiving