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Posted on December 15, 2017 at 2:42 PM by Melissa Dalton
As one can see as they drive down the road or enter any retail business, the holiday season is in full swing. Television and radio advertisements are telling shoppers to buy the latest toys, cars, jewelry, or just about any other item one can imagine. And, one cannot forget the holiday greeting cards being mailed and delivered! As one reflects on the holidays, it is fun to look back to another time and see just how much (or little) things have changed. We can look to the Xenia Evening Gazette and see a glimpse of typical advertising from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Here in the Archives, we have a copy of an 1862 Harper’s Weekly, which provides an interesting take on the holidays during a very tumultuous time in our nation’s history. This week we thought it might be fun to look at some old advertisements and greeting cards for the holidays and just enjoy a little journey back in time.
Figure 1: Post Card to Mrs. Jennie Simpson in Brooklyn, NY
This post card was sent to Mrs. Jennie Simpson of Brooklyn, N.Y. on Christmas Day, sometime after 1912. The year is not legible, but we know the post card was designed and copyrighted in 1911 and the stamp used on the post card was not issued until 1912, meaning it was probably sent sometime in the early 1910s.
Figure 2: Greeting card with two small children behind a door, spying the Christmas tree and presents with the words “May Christmas Joys be with You” on the bottom
This greeting card is from the personal collection of our Records Manager/Archivist, Robin Heise. The greeting card dates to circa 1910 and depicts two young children spying the gifts under the tree on Christmas Day. The words "May Christmas Joys be with You" is written on the door.
Figure 3: Victorian Era greeting card depicting a child holding a teddy bear and brush, while standing in front of the Christmas tree, with the words “Christmas Greetings” at the bottom
This greeting card is from the personal collection of our former Records Manager/Archivist, Gillian Hill. The greeting card dates to the Victorian Era and depicts a young child holding a teddy bear and brush, while standing in front of a Christmas tree. The words “Christmas Greetings” are written along the bottom of the card.
Figures 4 & 5: Harper’s Weekly, December 13, 1862
These advertisements are from the December 13, 1862 Harper’s Weekly. The first, the Patent Spring Rocking Horses, invented by Jesse C. Crandall, were advertised as a wonderful gift for children, as they would “expand the chest, and teach the rider to sit correctly.” The second, the Bird Work-Holder / Napkin-Holder, made by Allyn & Phelps in New York, sold for 25 cents and 50 cents for silver and gold, respectively.
Figure 6: Xenia Evening Gazette, December 24, 1925
This snippet from the 1925 Christmas Eve edition of the Xenia Evening Gazette has a few fun advertisements and articles. The Home Building & Savings Co. has an advertisement to start a Christmas savings fund for the following year (one can never begin saving too soon), the Jobe Bros. has an advertisement wishing subscribers a Merry Christmas, and there are two articles on retail businesses and the buying power of consumers.
Figure 7: Xenia Evening Gazette, December 24, 1935
This page from the 1935 Christmas Eve edition of the Xenia Evening Gazette mentions the Children of the Mozart Juvenile Music Club’s Christmas party, has a cute Santa cartoon titled “Christmas in Toyland”, several advertisements for various businesses wishing subscribers a Merry Christmas, and a recipe for fruit cake!
Figure 8: Xenia Evening Gazette, December 21, 1940
Last, but not least, is an article from the December 21, 1940 edition of the Xenia Evening Gazette, titled “Festive Christmas Tree Introduced by Germany,” written by Suphia Day. This article harps on the fact that “Americans are poor indeed, for we have lost the art of simple happiness and have forgotten what the true spirit of Christmas really signifies.” It surely is an interesting read, and is something that I know I’ve heard repeated today, almost 80 years later.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our little jaunt back in time to see the holiday season viewed with a different eye. Remember to take time to enjoy the merriment and sights of the season, and we here at the Greene County Archives wish everyone a happy holiday!
Until next time...
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