This is the beautiful album of vintage postcards that started it all.  Rex’s grandmother Nellie Howard was an artist and a school teacher, and she received many lovely cards from her students over the years.  Nellie saved each one and organized them in this album that became a family heirloom.

We are so fortunate to have received it as a gift from Rex’s late mother. She knew we loved antiques and would appreciate the art adorning the beautiful cards.  In many ways the album was a life-changing gift.  It was the beginning of a collecting obsession that has brought us so much joy!


We soon found ourselves immersed in learning about the art of vintage postcards-particularly those published during what is known as “The Golden Age of Postcards” from 1898 to 1918.   Postcards were the social media of the day-people sent the inexpensive greetings frequently-especially during the holidays!

The more we learned about the art on the postcards and the artists, the more we loved and appreciated our album!

And it didn’t take long for us to start collecting vintage postcards featuring everything from birds, butterflies, fruit and flowers to holidays, sports and travel.  Our collecting obsession resulted in planning vacations around antique and postcard events where dealers from across the country featured cards in every category imaginable!  And they were happy to educate us about all types of vintage ephemera.

The printing processes used during that time were much different than the digital printing we see today.  The chromolithographic printing used on early postcards relied on hand stippled dots of colors that resembled the look of pointillist painters.  The enlarged detail below shows the beautiful results!


In the beginning our collection served as a source of creative inspiration, but we soon realized the postcard art scanned and reproduced beautifully and could be used in combination with our original illustrations and designs.

Many of the vintage images are over 100 years old but are still timeless and wonderful.  The painter’s palette used on the Art Design Joy logo is from a 1910 postcard-altered in photoshop and combined with digital art.  Something borrowed, something new!

Our collecting obsession quickly expanded to include vintage books, die-cuts, calling cards, magazines, trade cards and prints.  And our postcard collection soon outgrew our albums!

A visit to a local antique store presented us with the perfect solution-a beautiful file cabinet that had been used to hold Santa Fe Railroad employee time cards.  As a message that it was meant to be ours-Rex’s late father was a Santa Fe conductor and his time card would have been stored in the file.  It is our favorite piece of furniture and now holds thousands of cards that we’ve collected!


The original hardware pulls are perfect for categorizing topics and holidays.  Among my favorite categories are the charming Halloween cards, which have become popular with collectors.  Fewer Halloween designs were printed, so they’re more expensive and harder to find as a result.  The cards tucked in the drawer above were Nellie’s cards.

It’s difficult to single out other favorites, because each drawer is filled with treasures.  But my love of butterflies and flowers has resulted in a large selection of those topics, and the vintage illustrations are so beautiful!   I’ve included some of my favorites in the freebie categories for downloading.


I also have a large collection of jolly Saint Nick cards and die-cuts and featured them in The Book of Santa Claus for Andrews McMeel.  If you share my love of vintage Christmas images, I’ve included several in the Christmas and Santa Claus freebie categories.  And I plan to add more each season!


Nellie’s cherished postcard album is truly a gift that keeps on giving.  It has inspired us to collect and create and has brought us so much joy!  I plan on adding more downloads of vintage art to each of our freebie categories, because a joy that’s shared is a joy made double!

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