Vintage Christmas Cards – Fireplace

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.

For the 1983 stand alone fireplace, I know I was influenced by the cardboard fake fireplaces that were popular Christmas decorations in my childhood. The mantel design may have come from family homes or other 1920’s bungalow style homes with brick fireplaces. It is a more complex assembly with many smaller pieces. I remember printing the instructions and tab names with hand-set type and then cutting and pasting them onto the drawing, before sending it all off to be made into a metal cut.

My father had a little more experience with creating the colors using rub-on sheets of dots to create the coloring of sections of the drawing. Using a photocopying machine, he reduced the size of the dots to make them more intense and he did a reverse of the dots and space in between for the fire. Then he had three cuts made – one for the black drawing, one for the green stockings and mantel greenery and the last one for the red bricks and fire.

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 tiny fireplace adding the suggest string loop to make it a Christmas ornament.

Here are other vintage Christmas cards:

  • Fireplace

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