Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Mary with Santa

 This past summer, I came across this vintage Real Photo Postcard of a young girl with Santa Claus.

The back was labeled "Mary with Santa".

Unfortunately, no last name nor a date is given.  Let's take a closer look and see if we can't place a time period on the photo.

The first clue is the stamp block on the back of the postcard.  The AZO Postcard stock produced by Kodak had particular designs for different years.  I referenced this site for dating the mark. This particular design spanned the greatest number of years for AZO postcards, 1924 (or 26 or 27 depending on where you read) to the 1940's.  So not a lot of help.

Let's focus in on different areas of the postcard for visual cues.  I do like the backdrop behind them.  I see a church, a small town and some trees, possibly mountains behind it.

The little girl has what I would have called a "Pageboy" haircut, but I learned they were actually just called "Bobs".  This definitely puts the time frame in the 1920's to early 30's.   Additionally, her hat and wide-collared coat are indicative of that time frame.

Santa, of course, is no help, as he is timeless.  Although this is clearly a thinner Santa than we are used to.  Haddon Sundblom began illustrating the Coca Cola Santa Claus in 1931, introducing the world to the modern interpretation of the jolly old elf.  Of course, Thomas Nast drew the original portly Santa Claus, but from what I've seen in illustrations from the 1900's through 20's, they show Santa as thin.  Sundblom's illustrations probably took a few years before gaining popularity as a model for Santa Claus.

Likewise, this doll isn't a lot of help as it's in a style that was used throughout this period.

Our first inkling of a date presents itself with this Mickey Mouse stuffed toy.

The first licensed Mickey Mouse stuffed toys were produced in 1930.  However, this one doesn't look like that one. The one above appears to be more button-eyed than pie-eyed.  He's also not wearing pants or gloves and his shoes appear to be dark colored rather than yellow.

Just above him, it would appear there is a Minnie Mouse as well.  It's possible these are unlicensed knockoffs.

The final clue is a bit of a guess.  I believe this is likely the "Toonerville Trolley" from the "Toonerville Folks" comic strip that began running in 1908. Mickey Rooney starred in a series of "Toonerville" films from 1927 through 1936.

Given this information, I'm fairly confident in placing this photo sometime in the first few years of the 1930's.  What do you think?


  1. I think it probably is from the late 30's or early 40's though I dont think thats the Toonerville Trolley . The Toonerville Trolley has a wavy roof with a second tier on it.

    1. I agree, Brothermidnight. I debated that as well. I guess it could just be a generic train car. There's writing on the very back of it, but too blurry to read. And now that I'm looking at that blowup closer, WHAT IS THAT DEMON FACE IN THE BACKGROUND?!!! :)

  2. i defer to your expertise. i think you have definitely narrowed the window down! i am leaning towards the early 1930s. aside from that sleuthing, i'm personally really liking the quality of Santa's beard and moustache. that's not a mass-produced plastic fiber product! i wish my Santa costume had a beard that good.

  3. That is some mighty impressive detective work Tom.


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