The Cards of Halloweens Past
Posted On: 10/26/2017 - 2:21pm, Posted By: Scott Gampfer, Associate Vice President for Collections & Preservation
Drawn from the Ephemera Collection, these three early Halloween post cards from 1908 and 1909, are typical of cards from the pre-WWI period. All three were printed in Germany, the two cards depicting a witch riding a broom were printed in the Kingdom of Saxony by Raphael Tuck & Sons, “Art Publishers to Their Majesties the King and Queen.” Raphael Tuck was born in Prussia, but eventually moved to England where he and his wife established a business as distributors of graphic art printing. Tuck & Sons was especially well known for their post cards. In the early 1900s, Tuck & Sons contracted for the majority of their color lithography work with firms in Saxony and Bavaria. All three of these Halloween cards were mailed locally to addresses in Cincinnati.
In 1982, George M. Henzel gave readers of the Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin a little glimpse of what Halloween was like in the early years of the 20th century in his article “Over-the-Rhine – U.S.A.” Henzel was born in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in 1910 and spent his early years there.
“…most people worked six days a week and went to church on Sunday. So, a good deal of the celebrating was in the evenings; Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, Election night, Halloween, and Fourth of July night. Halloween handouts were home-made doughnuts, cakes, and cookies, or maybe apples or other fruit. Very little candy was passed out, and if it was, it too, was home-made, such as taffy or peanut brittle. The smaller kids wore masks and only a few wore costumes, and they seldom wandered off of their home block to beg for treats. The bigger ones, past the begging age, went to masked parties, the skating rink, or out to do some tricks. These tricksters usually stayed to the alleys and did their "dirty work" quietly. If caught, they were clobbered by whoever caught them. No good to tell your parents, as this brought a second, more severe licking, and your Mom or Dad going over and apologizing for your bad manners.”
To read George Henzel’s article “Over-the-Rhine - USA” click here.