Vintage Christmas Cards – House Box

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 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 1982 “From Our House To Your House” house box postcard was an outgrowth of my fascination with creating house boxes. I had been introduced to box making in a high school commercial art class where I created a blue and white farmhouse box for perfume. At college I expanded on the farmhouse box design by creating a cardboard embossing plate to add raised clapboard siding and roof shingles that was run through an intaglio press. In 1981 I had completed an internship at a historic house museum which was a red brick Victorian house.

The challenge with creating a house box on a postcard was how much would fit on a 5 3/4-inch x 3 3/4-inch postcard. I drew the box on an 8 1/2-inch x 11-inch sheet of paper and used a photocopying machine to reduce it in size.

My father was experimenting with a new technique for him using rub-on sheets of dots to create the coloring of sections of the drawing. He had three cuts made – one for the black drawing, one for the green roof, door wreath and greenery and the last one for the red bricks.

For one postcard, it took four runs through the printing press. We printed 400+ of these cards starting in October.

A few of our friends said they had cut and assembled the wee house box adding the suggest string loop.

Here are other vintage Christmas cards:

  • House Box

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