Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vintage Halloween postcard:
The Witch (Julius Bien)

This colorful vintage postcard is titled simply "The Witch."

It's a fairly elaborate witch costume that involves a carved pumpkin, a pointy hat, a broom, a stick, a white sheet and oversized shoes. I'm thinking this witch has a 50-50 chance of tipping over at some point. Maybe the kid can just be a ghost if he loses his "head."

The real witch sitting on the crescent moon is a nice touch on this undated card, which is labeled "'HALLOWEEN' SERIES NUMBER 980" on the back.

The publisher was Julius Bien & Company, which was in operation from about 1850 to 1915. Some fun trivia: According to "By the 1880s the firm expanded into printing a wide range of chromolithographic material including advertising, posters, and trade cards. This would latter further expand into sets of comic, holiday, patriotic, religious, and sentimental postcards, typified by a highly graphic style."

This postcard was postmarked in the tiny village of Kempton, Illinois, but the year is illegible. According to Wikipedia, "A post office was established at the site of Kempton in 1869 and called Sugar Loaf. The name of the post office was changed to Kempton in 1878, when the village was founded and named after its founder, Wright Kemp." (I wonder how many Sugar Loaf postmarks are floating around out there?)

The card was mailed to the small city of Fairbury, Illinois, which is about 28 miles southwest of Kempton. (By roads, not crows.)

The note, written in tough-to-decipher cursive, states:
"Dear Kid: Am sending the papers, so you can see what is going on here. Dance in Cabery Wed. night. Halloween social here Sat. Night. Every body here all OK. When are you coming home? All of you come if you can. Would like to come out there but can't get away just yet. Love from all."

Cabery is about six miles north of Kempton, if you're keeping track of all this geography at home.

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