Tuesday, January 1, 2019

1906 Dutch "Gelukkig Nieuwjaar" postcard & odd folk figure

Happy New Year! This old postcard from the Netherlands has "Gelukkig Nieuwjaar" — that's Happy New Year in Dutch — printed on the front. In addition, someone wrote the date January 1906 in the bottom corner, along with a signature that looks like Bartha P. Smit. Could it be this Bartha Smit, who was born in 1877 in Alkmaar, Netherlands, and died at age 41 in 1918. She was married to Hendrik Bruin. But that's just one possible Bartha Smit from the Netherlands. There are surely others who also fit into the correct timeframe for writing on this postcard.

Another question is the illustration on the postcard itself. What is that thing?? Someone wrote "Belsnickle" on the back of the postcard at some point, perhaps guessing at the identity of the folk figure. I guess that possibility can't be ruled out. That German/Pennsylvania Dutch figure was associated with Christmas and sometimes carried around a switch or bundle of sticks to punish naughty children. Belsnickel/Belsnickel/Belschnickel/Belznickle/Belznickel/Pelznikel/Pelznickel also gives gifts to the good children, but I don't see a gift bag in this illustration.

I reckon this is our first mini mystery of 2019. May our year be filled with fun mysteries!

1 comment:

  1. Here is the American equivalent postcard, with filigreed embellishments: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vintagehalloweencollector/3148034544/

    On the American card, the Belsnickle character is referred to as Krampus [q.v.], though as the character lacks horns, the moniker does not seem apropos.

    -- M.F.