One of the things you might not expect, living in the era of fairly calm, sedate postcards, is the postcard which would come up and confront you, face to face. You need to keep in mind that the postcard to some degree took the place of texting in that bygone golden age of postcards around 1908, and emojis had not been invented yet. You had to rely on an artist to do your In The face work.
It was not necessarily hostile, of course. It could be a challenge like the one at the top of this column. I have found that the reaction of people to this young man is about fifty percent hostile, but that’s in the reaction of the beholder. All the artist really intended was to dare you not to smile, and left it up to you to score the game.
I think this Bamforth postcard, featuring a good natured old toper seen in many postcards, was designed along the same lines: just a shot to try to get you to smile. (In fact, you could look at the Old Boy and the young boy above: the difference in dates between the two MIGHT be too brief to allow them to be the same person, just playing the same game, but let’s not rule out the possibility.)
A challenge could be of any nature. This one makes other demands on you than just a smile. I wonder who would have sent this kind of card to challenge whom. (By the way, the lady is wearing a style of blouse which was very popular in the 1915 era, and almost always comes off as vaguely unattractive—at least to our eyes–in the hands of a cartoonist. There was just a lot of extra material in the shirtwaists of the period, and it wasn’t really that all fashionable women were built like…let’s move along before someone comes along and confronts me with my gutter brain.
I THINK this is intended to be the same sort of challenge, but less self-pitying. And a bit more in the “get up and go” style of the 1910s. You decided what you wanted and you went out and got it, letting your drive and concentration break down all obstacles along your way. This postcard was meant to let you know who was the object of affection.
And this attitude was freely available to men AND women. Ambition and drive were the modern way, and the modern woman was not shy about her requirements.
In fact, some were not shy at all. HERE is a confrontational postcard, if you like. When someone sent you this postcard, your only choice would have been to buy a ring, or a ticket out of town. Depends on what you thought of her maiden aim.