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”)

Carthalia

Carthalia

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    

Antique Thanksgiving Postcard Vintage Early 1900's Turkey Halloween Pumpkin CartEllen Clapsaddle Country Girl W/ Pumpkin & Mincemeat Thanksgiving Pie Wolf Co.Ellen Clapsaddle Cute Girl Ponders Thanksgiving Jol Pumpkin Colorful 1909 PcThanksgiving Postcard/ Black "mammy" W/baskets Of Food/dead Turkey24 Antique Vintage Thanksgiving Day Postcards - Turkeys, Clapsaddle, Scenes, +Antique Thanksgiving Postcard Vintage 1910 Children Rolling Halloween PumpkinPretty House And Flowers--antique Vintage Whitney Thanksgiving Postcard!Antique Thanksgiving Postcard Vintage 1910 Tom Turkey With Halloween PumpkinLot Of 6 Vintage Thanksgiving And Christmas Post Cards1910 Postcard Thanksgiving, Cows On Farm, WindmillDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsThanksgiving Greetings Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir PostalThanksgiving Greetings Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir PostalThanksgiving Greetings Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir PostalThanksgiving Mechanical~1913 German Made Turkey With Kaeidoscope Tail1911-'18 Lot Of 6 Embossed Thanksgiving Postcards Harvest Football Food ~l@@k~ Vintage Tuck's Post Card Holiday Thanksgiving Halloween Interest Black Cat Cauld1910 Lot Of 4 Embossed Gilded Thanksgiving Postcards Uncle Sam Flags Turkeys Ellen Clapsaddle Thanksgiving Girl W/ Pink Mums Not Mint Image Fine 1921 PcUnsigned Ellen Clapsaddle, 1910's Embossed Postcard, Thanksgiving, Girl, PumpkinCyanotype Paret Rppc~1911~sweetwater,texas~thanksgiving Turkey & Boy~smithsonianSale Airbrush Embossed Thanksgiving Turkey Platter PostcardAntique Thanksgiving Postcard Vintage1909 Putto With Banner & Turkey Axe/stumpAntique Thanksgiving Postcard Vintage 1913 Turkey On Golden Pathway~2~ Whitney Art Deco Thanksgiving Postcards Leaves Snow Covered Cottages & Moon Thanksgiving Greetings Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir Postal1909 Artist Signed Postcard Cordial Thanksgiving,turkeys And Pumpkins1911 Postcard May Your Thanksgiving Be A Happy One, TurkeyAmerican National Birds Eagle Thanksgiving Turkey Postcard Old Vintage Card ViewThanksgiving Greetings Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir PostalMassachusetts Ma Boston Faneuil Hall First Thanksgiving Postcard Old Vintage PcThanksgiving Greetings Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir PostalThanksgiving Greetings Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir PostalDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsLovely Pilgrim Lady On Uns. Schmucker Vintage Winsch 1912 Thanksgiving PostcardLovely Pilgrim Lady On Uns. Schmucker Vintage Winsch 1911 Thanksgiving PostcardVintage Black Americana Postcard Thanksgiving Morning In The South Tuck & SonsVintage Thanksgiving PostcardsVintage Thanksgiving Postcards, Divided Back (c.1907-1915)Pilgrim Wedding Bride Rides Cow Poem Antique Vintage 1911 Thanksgiving Postcard!Thanksgiving Greetings, 1915 Postcard, Giant Turkey, Children Waving Red FlagThanksgiving Greetings, 1911 Postcard, Turkey Biting Boy, 2 Others Watching, EtcAntique Thanksgiving Postcard Vintage Early 1900's Pilgrim Boy Hugging Turkey Antique Thanksgiving Postcard Vintage1912 The Turkey Parade & Homestead Scene5--vintage--thanksgiving--post Cards--early 1900's1910 Postcard Thanksgiving Greetings, Pilgrim Hiding Behind Pumpkin, TurkeyThanksgiving Greeting Postcard Card View Standard Souvenir Postal Post PcAmerican Eagle National Birds Thanksgiving Turkey Postcard Old Vintage Card ViewThanksgiving Embossed Postcard/ Moon/ Corn/ Wheat/ Leaves/ Path/ Poem/winschDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsDivided Back Postcard, Thanksgiving GreetingsDr Jim Stamps Us Thanksgiving Kansas City, Mo Postcard 1912