Vintage Christmas Cards – NO L Tree

Recently I came across some family Christmas cards I had designed with the help of my father who owned a letterpress printing press and had cuts (think metal stamps on wooden blocks similar to rubber stamps on wood blocks) made of my drawings. The printing press held an 8×10-inch galley or frame which held the cuts and metal type (letters). Paper was hand-fed into the press which had an electric motor connected with a leather belt which turned the press wheel. From about age 8 and on I earned pocket money running the press to add people’s names to their store-bought Christmas cards, “From the Desk of” notepads and other small print jobs from family and friends.

The five cards that I am sharing this week were created before the computer drawing program Auto-CAD was widely available to individuals. (I know we didn’t have access to digital type fonts that Apple computers offered around that time.) I used rulers, India ink pens and protractors to draw the pop-ups.

The NO L Tree card was a mash-up of another Christmas card my parents had done in the 1950s spelling out the alphabet but leaving a space where the “L” would have been, and a 3D triangle tree that I had made as a child which was made of two triangles cut with slits that allowed them to slide together. My father suggested having the sentiment in red ink be on two quadrants while the green alphabet be on the remaining two quadrants. We decided on different type fonts for the two sides.

Hand setting the type was a little challenging, but after several test runs, we found the proper placement. I think we created a cardboard template to trace the tree lines inside the card with a black pen.

Instructions on how to assemble the tree as well as the card title/subtitle and card credits were all made with hand-set type. To print one card, it took two runs of green ink, two runs of red ink and one run of black ink for a total of five runs and one hand tracing of the triangle lines. We would print 200+ cards each year and start printing in October.

My siblings and I think this card was made around 1980-1981.

Here are other vintage Christmas cards:

  • NO L Tree

4 thoughts on “Vintage Christmas Cards – NO L Tree

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