Santa Blogs XXXV

Dear Santa Blogs:

     I have a niece who is interested in collectibles, but I have had hints from her parents that something small and easy to store would be the best choice.  Naturally, I thought of your postcard blog.  Can you tell me, in words understandable to a layman, which postcards are the most collectible?  Thanks,

                                                                        LOVING UNCLE, HEADING FOR HOLIDAY


     I am encouraged to hear that the younger generation is still collecting the doodaddery left behind by their elders.  And you are wise to consider the possibility of postcards.  These come in so many types and traditions that some of them are bound to be collectible, no matter how the winds of fashion blow.  (Tried to get ahead of the trend when Ronald Reagan was elected President by buying up a lot of vintage paperback westerns that I was sure would…for what these have cost me in storage since that time, I could have bought stacks and stacks of postcards.)

     So you want to be sure the postcards you pick up are collectible, and you want the crash course.  I can handle that for you.  Something is really collectible if people collect it.  No, no, don’t applaud so loudly; if I blush any more, I shall have to lead the sleigh myself this year.

     Of course, the more people who collect something, the more collectible it becomes.  Let us consider, say, holiday postcards.  There will always be people who collect holiday postcards, until such time as we ban all holidays because they get in the way of people working full time to raise the Gross National product.  (No, honest: there are people who believe that.  I expect they’re all in Administration.)  People glory in the variety of images for their holiday: turkeys and pumpkins for Thanksgiving, black cats and pumpkins at Halloween, pumpkins and red leaves for Harvest Festival…it just occurred to me.  Is the whole postcard and greeting card industry just a front for the Pumpkin Board?  Must check that among online conspiracy theories.  (If no one else has done it yet, I have dibbies.)

     But, Lunc, there are levels of collecting.  Halloween is more popular to collectors than, say, Washington’s Birthday.  (There were LOTS of Washington’s Birthday postcards once.  Honest.)  More people collect Valentine postcards than collect Thanksgiving postcards.  As for Christmas postcards, well!

     See, within the holiday, some symbols are more collectible than others.  I have any number of postcards with arrangements of holly on them.  So has anybody else with Christmas cards.  Postcard companies knew our ancestors would buy just scads of postcards showing a good old sleighride through the snow, and they were correct.  But generations later, the number of people who recall an actual horse-drawn sleighride through the snow is mighty minor.  It’s NICE, but not as relevant to the modern Christmas as a tree, or a stocking, or (I’m blushing again) Santa himself.

     And even there, we have varying demand.  A Christmas tree is generally less interesting than a Christmas stocking (either is more popular if vintage toys are included in the picture.)  By far, the most popular image to collect is Santa Claus, simply because he is still well=known, and to this day is drawn by every artist in a particular way.  Once upon a time, Lunc, Santa Claus wore green, blue, and even yellow suits trimmed with fur (red was standardized, as the ads keep telling us, by Coca-Cola).  The beard varies, the suit is sometimes the jacket and pants of Santa or the red gown of Father Christmas, varies.  Even his waistline is a matter of study by your collectors.  (Look, it’s not my fault.  It’s all those cookies.)

     I guess the easiest rule of thumb for you is that if a postcard is largely unavailable, or costs a whole lot more than you want to spend on your niece, it’s probably collectible.  Of course, you could follow the advice of A. Edward Newton, and simply buy her something she likes.  Then she’ll always have something nice even if it never becomes a rarity with a seven-digit price.  Not only is that more in the spirit of the holiday; it’s cheaper. (And maybe that’s your spirit of Christmas.)

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