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    

Lot Of 21 Thanksgiving Greetings Vintage PostcardsB4431 Thanksgiving Postcard By International Art, Pears, Used 1911Vintage Postcards Thanksgiving 8 Lot Of Most Unused Early 1900s 6 From SeriesThanksgiving On The Border - Juarez Mexico - El Paso Texas - Rppc PostcardVintage Int'l Art #1817 Thanksgiving Signed 'ellen H. Clapsaddle'-children & PieLot Of ~50~ Vintage Early 1900's Whitney Christmas Postcard/s~thanksgiving/santaG4578 Thanksgiving Postcard, With The Spirit Of Thanksgiving, Rare, Inter. ArtX11 Thanksgiving Postcards Lot ! Stamps Henderson Ky Flag Cancels +elwood Ind +!Lot / 14 Antique Thanksgiving Pcs Clapsaddle Turkeys, Tuck, German Gold EmbossedG2546 Thanksgiving Postcard, International Art, Rare, Deco FeelVintage Original Embossed Thanksgiving Postcard, CollectibleOld Country Farm^pumpkins^haystacks^1922 Vintage Thanksgiving PostcardThanksgiving Vintage Postcard Turkey Chickens Farm Scene Antique,mint,embossed Thanksgiving Postcard Menu.Thanksgiving Vintage Postcard Children Squirrel Children At Thanksgiving Dinner Table^big Turkey^1933 Vintage Greeting PostcardAntique Embossed Thanksgiving Postcard Greeting Cards Well Wishes Md To WvThanksgiving Greetings Large Turkey Wishbone Ribbon A/s Ellen ClapsaddleThanksgiving Souvenir Turkeys Marching In Line Through Woods C1910 EmbossedPatriotic Thanksgiving Greetings Turkey Flag Pumpkin Fruit B. Hofmann C1910Black Americana Postcard Punkins Thanksgiving DayTuck & Son Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard - "best Wishes On Thanksgivings Day"Antique Postcards (4) - Thanksgiving - 2 (1909), 1 (1923)1911 Thanksgiving Postcard Very Colorful Turkey W/roses Fruit Vegetables SceneThanksgiving Day Turkeys Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir PostalFort William, Ontario, Int St. Luke's Anglican Church, 1920's Rppc Thanksgiving?G4583 Hb Griggs Postcard, Thanksgiving, Boy Dreaming Of Turkey & Creatures, 2263S0409 Hbg Griggs Postcard, Thanksgiving, Boy With Turkey, Embossed, L&e2273Lot Of 8 Thanksgiving Greetings 1909-1911 Embossed PostcardFantasy Pilgrim Lady On Uns. Schmucker Vintage Winsch 1913 Thanksgiving PostcardThanksgiving Greetings Children Feeding Large Tom Turkey A/s Ellen ClapsaddleLot Of 5 Vintage Thanksgiving Greetings Postcards Early 1900'sThanksgiving Vintage Postcard Turkey Pumkin Produce On BiplaneThanksgiving Vintage Postcard Patriotic Usa Flag Turkey Fruit BasketTexas A & M, College Game On Thanksgiving Day, College Station, TexasThanksgiving Joys Series Turkey Pumpkin Postcard R8Glossy Gel Surface ~ Thanksgiving Pilgrim Puritan Lady Cornucopia Flowers Pc4 Vintage Holiday Postcards Happy Thanksgiving Greetings Turkey Corn Embossed Pc~2~ Vintage Thanksgiving Postcards Turkeys Pumpkin & Corn Series 330a & 333f Thanksgiving Turkey Autumn Used Vintage Postcard C.19111910 Embossed Thanksgiving Postcard Addressed Collins, OhioUnposted Printed In Germany Serie 0757 Thanksgiving PostcardVtg Collectible Postcard Thanksgiving Happy Fat Turkey On PumpkinThanksgiving Turkey Autumn Used Vintage Postcard Gilded Old Thanksgiving Postcard Of Turkey, Pumpkin, Corn, Grapes, Pear, & ApplePfb Thanksgiving Greetings Children With White Turkeys C1910 EmbossedVintage Thanksgiving Postcard Farmer Man In Corn Field ~ F.a. Owen Co #322 C Nash 1913 Thanksgiving Postcard Pilgrim Lady Pumpkins Turkey Gold Gilt # T-39 Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard Turkey House "god Speed" Poem Series 1269a Thanksgiving Vintage Postcard Turkey Cow Pumpkin Fruit Corn Wheat Embossed5 Vintage Thanksgiving PostcardsVintage 1921 Embossed Thanksgiving Pilgrim Shooting Turkey T16Lot Of 10 Early 1900's Thanksgiving Postcards Thanksgiving Greetings Turkey Tree Of Many Fruits Homestead Scene Embossed2 Card Thanksgiving Lot, Artist Veenfliet Corn, Boy With Axe, Turkey In Tree!Embossed, Big Fat Turkey, "wishing You A Happy Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie...Child Feeding Big Turkey 1910 Vintage Thanksgiving Greeting Postcard EmbossedBig Turkey^flowers^thanksgiving Greeting^early 1900s Vintage Greeting PostcardThanksgiving Embossed Pc/ Boy Carrying Large Pumpkin/girl/basket Of Fruit/prettyVintage Thanksgiving Postcard Winsch Unsigned Schmucker Pilgrims Nuts Fall